David Starr Jordan.

The care and culture of men: a series of addresses on the higher education by David Starr Jordan online

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President of Leland Stanford Junior University
AND OF THB California Academv of Sciences

•* The best Political Economy is the care and culture of men!''





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Copyright, 1896


David Starr Jordan



This volume is made up of addresses relating to higher
education, delivered at different times before assemblies of
teachers and students. The writer is under obligation to the
publishers of the Popular Science Monthly, the Forum, and
the Occidental Medical Times for the permission to reprint
articles which have appeared in these periodicals. The arti-
cle on "The Evolution of the College Curriculum," first
pubhshed in ** Science Sketches," is here reprinted by con-
sent of A. C. McClurg & Co., and that on "The Higher
Education of Women" is reprinted by consent of the Irving
Syndicate. Most of the articles have been freely retouched
since their original publication.

Palo Alto, Cal., May 14, 1896.



I. The Value of Higher Education i

II. The Evolution of the College Curriculum 24

III. The Nation's Need of Men 57

IV. The Care and Culture of Men 67

V. The Scholar in the Community 76

VI. The School and the State • . 95,,

VII. The Higher Education of Women 123

VIII. The Training of the Physician 133

IX. Law Schools and Lawyers 150

X. The Practical Education 163

XI. Science in the High School . . * 173

XII. Science and the Colleges 183

XIII. The Procession of Life 203

XIV. The Growth of Man 208

XV. The Social Order 2:18

XVI. The Saving of Time 236

XVII. The New University 259

XVIII. A Castle in Spain 268



WHAT I have to say here is addressed to young
men and young women. It is a plea, as strong
as I know how to make it, for higher education, for more
thorough preparation for the duties of life. I know those
well to whom I wish to speak. And to such as these,
with the life and duties in the busy world before you,
the best advice I or any one can give is this: *' Go to

And you may say : *' These four years are among the
best of my life. The good the college does must be
great, if I should spend this time and money in securing
it. What will the college do for me ? "

It may do many things for you, — if you are made of
the right stuff; for you cannot fasten a two-thousand-
dollar education to a fifty-cent boy. The fool, the dude,
and the shirk come out of college pretty much as they
went in. They dive deep in the Pierian springs, as the
duck dives in the pond, — and they come up as dry as
the duck does. The college will not do everything for

*Address before the California State Teachers' Association at Fresno, 1892.


you. It is simply one of the helps by which you can
win your way to a noble manhood or womanhood.
Whatever you are, you must make of yourself; but a
well-spent college life is one of the greatest helps to all
good things.

So, if you learn to use it rightly, this the college can
do for you: It will bring you in contact with the great
minds of the past, the long roll of those who, through
the ages, have borne a mission to young men and young
women, from Plato to Emerson, from Homer and Eu-
ripides to Schiller and Browning. Your thought will be
limited not by the narrow gossip of to-day, but the great
men of all ages and all climes will become your brothers.
You will learn to feel what the Greek called the * * conso-
lations of philosophy." To turn from the petty troubles
of the day to the thoughts of the masters, is to go from
the noise of the street through the door of a cathedral.
If you learn to unlock these portals, no power on earth
can take from you the key. The whole of your life must
be spent in your own company, and only the educated
man is good company for himself. The uneducated
man looks out on life through narrow windows, and thinks
the world is small.

The college can bring you face to face with the great
problems of nature. You will learn from your study of
nature's laws more than the books can tell you of the
grandeur, the power, the omnipotence of God. You
will learn to face great problems seriously. You will
learn to work patiently at their solution, though you
know that many generations must each add its mite to
your work before any answer can be reached.

Your college course will bring you in contact with


men whose influence will strengthen and inspire. The
ideal college professor should be the best man in the
community. He should have about him nothing mean,
or paltry, or cheap. He should be to the student as
David Copperfield's Agnes, ''always pointing the way
upward,' '

That we are all this, I shall not pretend. Most col-
lege professors whom I know are extremely human.
We have been soured, and starved, and dwarfed in many
ways, and many of us are not the men we might have
been if we had had your chances for early education.
But unpractical, pedantic, fossilized though the college
professor may be, his heart is in the right place ; he is
not mercenary, and his ideals are those of culture and
progress. We are keeping the torch burning which you,
young men of the twentieth century, may carry to the
top of the mountain.

But here and there among us is the ideal teacher,
the teacher of the future, the teacher to have known
whom is of itself a liberal education. I have met some
such in my day — Louis Agassiz, Charles Frederick
Hartt, Asa Gray, George William Curtis, James Rus-
sell Lowell, Andrew Dickson White, among others, and
there are many more such in our land. It is worth ten
years of your life to know well one such man as these.
Garfield once said that a log with Mark Hopkins at one
end of it and himself at the other, would be a university.
In whatever college you go, poor and feeble though
the institution may be, you will find some man who, in
some degree, will be to you what Mark Hopkins was
to Garfield. To know him will repay you for all your
sacrifices. It was said of Dr. Nott, of Union College,


that he "took the sweepings of other colleges, and
sent them back into society pure gold." Such was his
influence on young men.

Moreover, the training which comes from association
with one's fellow-students cannot be overestimated. Here
and there, it is true, some young invertebrate, overbur-
dened with money or spoiled by home-coddling, falls
into bad company, and leaves college in worse condition
than when he entered it. These are the windfalls of
education. However much we may regret them, we
cannot prevent their existence. But they are few among
the great majority. Most of our apples are not worm-
eaten at the core. The average student enters college
for a purpose ; and you will lose nothing, but may gain
much, from association with him. Among our college
students are the best young men of the times. They
mold each other's character, and shape each other's
work. Many a college man will tell you that, above all
else which the college gave, he values the friendships
which he formed in school. In the German universities,
the ' ' fellow-feeling among free spirits ' ' is held to be one
of the most important elements in their grand system
of higher education.

Many a great genius has risen and developed in soli-
tude, as the trailing arbutus grows in the woods and
scorns cultivation. Poets sing because their souls are
full of music, not because they have learned the gamut
of passions in schools. But all great work, in science,
in philosophy, in the humanities, has come from enter-
ing into the work of others.

There was once a Chinese emperor who decreed that
he was to be the first; that all history was to begin


with him, and that nothing should be before him. But
we cannot enforce such decree. We are not emperors
of China. The world's work, the world's experience
does not begin with us. We must know what has been
done before. We must know the paths our predeces-
sors have trodden, if we would tread them farther. We
must stand upon their shoulders — dwarfs upon the shoul-
ders of the giants — if we would look farther into the
future than they. Science, philosophy, statesmanship
cannot for a moment let go of the past.

The college intensifies the individuality of a man. It
takes his best abilities and raises him to the second, or
third, or tenth power, as we say in algebra. It is true
enough that colleges have tried, and some of them still
try, to enforce uniformity in study — to cast all students
in the same mold. Colleges have been conservative,
old-fogyish, if you please. Musty old men in the dust
of Hbraries have tried to make young men dry and
dreary like themselves. Colleges have placed readi-
ness above thoroughness, memory above mastery, glib-
ness above sincerity, uniformity above originality, and
the dialectics of the dead past above the work of the
Hving present The scepter of the Roman emperor has
crumbled into dust, but the * ' rod of the Roman school-
master is over us still. ' '

But say what you will of old methods, they often at-
tained great ends. Colleges have aimed at uniformity.
They did not secure it. The individuality of the stu-
dent bursts through the cast-iron curriculum. '*The
man's the man for a' that," and the man is so much
more the man nature meant him to be, because his mind
is trained.


The educated man has the courage of his convictions,
because only he has any real convictions. He knows
how convictions should be formed. What he believes
he takes on his own evidence — not because it is the
creed of his church or the platform of his party. So he
counts as a unit in his community — not as part of a
dozen or a hundred whose opinions are formed by their
town's place on the map, or who train under the party
flag because their grandfathers did the same. * * To see
things as they really are, ' ' is one of the crowning priv-
ileges of the educated man, and to help others to see
them so, is one of the greatest services he can render to
the community.

But you may say: "All this may be fine and true,
but it does not apply in my case. I am no genius; I
shall never be a scholar. I want simply to get along.
Give me education enough to teach a district school, or
to run an engine, or to keep account-books, and I am
satisfied. Any kind of a school will be good enough for

* ' The youth gets together his materials, ' ' says Tho-
reau, * ' to build a bridge to the moon, or perchance a
palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-
aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them. ' '

Now, why not plan for a woodshed at first, and save
this waste of time and materials ?

But this is the very good of it. The gathering of
these materials will strengthen the youth. It may be
the means of saving him from idleness, from vice. So
long as you are at work on your bridge to the moon,
you will shun the saloon, and we shall not see you on
the dry-goods box in front of the corner-grocery. I


know many a man who in early life planned only to build
a woodshed, but who found later that he had the strength
to build a temple, if he only had the materials. Many
a man the world calls successful would give all life has
brought him could he make up for the disadvantages
of his lack of early training. It does not hurt a young
man to be ambitious in some honorable direction. In
the pure-minded youth, ambition is the sum of all the
virtues. Lack of ambition means failure from the
start. The young man who is aiming at nothing, and
cares not to rise, is already dead. There is no hope for
him. Only the sexton and the undertaker can serve his

The old traveler, Rafinesque, tells us that, when he
was a boy, he read the voyages of Captain Cook, and
Pallas, and Le Vaillant, and his soul was fired with the
desire to be a great traveler like them. ** And so I be-
came such," he adds shortly.

If you say to yourself, ' ' I will be a naturalist, a
traveler, an historian, a statesman, a scholar"; if you
never unsay it; if you bend all your powers in that
direction, and take advantage of all those aids that help
toward your ends, and reject all that do not, you will
some time reach your goal. The world turyis aside to
let any vian pass who knows whither he is going.

*'Why should we call ourselves men," said Mira-
beau," unless it be to succeed in everything, every-
where? Say of nothing, *This is beneath me,' nor feel
that anything is beyond your powers. Nothing is im-
possible to the man who can will. ' '

"But a college education costs money," you may say.
** I have no money; therefore, I cannot go to college."


But this is nonsense. If you have health and strength,
and no one dependent on you, you cannot be poor.
There is, in this country, no greater good luck that a
young man can have than to be thrown on his own re-
sources. The cards are stocked against the rich man's
son. Of the many college men who have risen to prom-
inence in my day, very few did not lack for money
in college. I remember a little boarding-club of the
students at Cornell, truthfully called the " Struggle for
Existence," and named for short, ''The Strug," which
has graduated more bright minds than any other single
organization in my Alma Mater.

The young men who have fought their way, have
earned their own money, and know what a dollar costs,
have the advantage of the rich. They enter the world
outside with no luxurious habits, with no taste for idle-
ness. It is not worth while to be born with a silver
spoon in your mouth, when a litde effort will secure you
a gold one. The time, the money that the unambitious
young man wastes in trilling pursuits or in absolute idle-
ness will suilice to give the ambitious man his education.
The rich man's son may enter college with better prep-
aration than you. He may wear better clothes. He may
graduate younger. But the poor man's son can make
up for lost time by greater energy and by the greater
clearness of his grit. He steps from the commencement
stage into no unknown world. He has already measured
swords with the great antagonist, and the first victory is
his. It is the first struggle that counts.

But it is not poverty that helps a man. There is no
virtue in poor food or shabby clothing. It is the effort
by which he throws off the yoke of poverty that en-


larges the powers. It is not hard work, but work to a
purpose, that frees the soul. If the poor man lie down
in the furrow and say: " I won't try. I shall never
amount to anything. I am too poor; and if I wait to
earn money, I shall be too old to go to school." If you
do this, I say, you won' t amount to anything, and later
in life you will be glad to spade the rich man's garden
and to shovel his coal at a dollar a day.

I have heard of a poor man in Wisconsin who earns a
half-dollar every day by driving a cow to pasture. He
watches her all day as she eats, and then drives her
home at night. This is all he does. Put here your
half-dollar and there your man. The one balances the
other, and the one enriches the world as much as the
other. If it were not for the cow, the world would not
need that man at all!

A young man can have no nobler ancestry than one
made up of men and women who have worked for a liv-
ing and who have given honest work. The instinct of
industry runs in the blood. Naturalists tell us that the
habits of one generation may be inherited by the next,
reappearing as instincts. Whether this be literally true
or not, this we know: it is easy to inherit laziness. No
money or luck will place the lazy man on the level of his
industrious neighbor. The industry engendered by the
pioneer life of the last generation is still in your veins.
Sons and daughters of the Western pioneers, yours is
the best blood in the realm. You must make the most
of yourselves. If you cannot get an education in four
years, take ten years. It is worth your while. Your
place in the world will wait for you till you are ready to
fill it Do not say that I am expecting too much of the


effects of a firm resolution; that I give you advice which
will lead you to failure. For the man who will fail will
never make a resolution. Those among you whom fate
has cut out for nobodies are the ones who will never try !

I said just now that you cannot put a two-thousand-
dollar education on a fifty-cent boy. This has been tried
again and again. It is tried in every college. It fails
almost every time. What of that ? It does not hurt to
try. A few hundred dollars is not much to spend on an
experiment like that; — the attempt to make a man out
of a boy whose life might otherwise be a waste of so
much good oxygen.

But what shall we say of a man who puts a fifty-cent
education on a ten-thousand-dollar, a million-dollar boy,
and narrows and cramps him throughout his after life ?
And just this is what ten thousand parents to-day in Cali-
fornia are doing for their sons and daughters. Twenty
years hence, ten thousand men and women of California
will blame them for their shortness of sight and narrow-
ness of judgment, in weighing a few paltry dollars, soon
earned, soon lost, against the power which comes from
mental training.

" For a man to have died who might have been wise
and was not — this," says Carlyle, " I call a tragedy."

Another thing which should never be forgotten is this :
A college education is not a scheme to enable a man to
live without work. Its purpose is to help him to work
to advantage — to make every stroke count. I have
heard a father say sometimes : "I have worked hard
all my life. I will give my boy an education, so that he
will not have to drudge as I have had to do." And the
boy going out in the world does not work as his father


did. The result every time is disappointment ; for the
manhood which the son attains depends directly on his
own hard work. But if the father says : " My son shall
be a worker, too; but I will give him an education, so
that his work may count for more to himself and to the
world than my work has done for me." Then, if the
son be as persistent as his father, the results of his work
may be far beyond the expectations of either. The boys
who are sent to college often do not amount to much.
From the boys who go to college come the leaders of
the future.

Frederic Denison Maurice tells us that * * All experi-
ence is against the notion that the means to produce a
supply of good, ordinary men is to attempt nothing
higher. I know that nine-tenths of those the university
sends out must be hewers of wood and drawers of water;
but if I train the ten-tenths to be such, then the wood
will be badly cut, and the water will be spilt. Aim at
something noble. Make your system of education such
that a great man may be formed by it, and there will be
a manhood in your little men of which you did not
dream ! ' '

"You will hear every day around you," says Emer-
son, "the maxims of a low prudence. You will hear that
your first duty is to get land and money, place and name.
'What is this truth you seek? What is this beauty ? '
men will ask in derision. If, nevertheless, God has
called any of you to explore truth and beauty, be bold,
be firm, be true! When you shall say, 'As others do,
so will I. I renounce, I am sorry for it, my early visions.
I must eat the good of the land and let learning and
romantic expectations go until a more convenient season. '


Then dies the man in you. Then once more perish the
buds of art, and poetry, and science, as they have died
already in a hundred thousand men. The hour of that
choice is the crisis of your destiny."

But you may ask me this question : * ' Will a college
education pay, considered solely as a financial invest-

Again I must answer, ' ' Yes. ' ' But the scholar is sel-
dom disposed to look upon his power as a financial
investment. He can do better than to get rich. The
scholar will say, as Agassiz said to the Boston publisher,
' ' I have no time, sir, to make money. ' '

But in the rank and file it is true that the educated
men get the best salaries. In every field, from football
to statesmanship, it is always science that wins the game.
Brain-work is higher than hand-work, and it is worth
more in any market. The man with the mind is the
boss, and the boss receives a larger salary than the hands
whose work he directs.

George William Curtis has said: "I have heard it
said that liberal education does not promote success in
life. A chimney-sweep might say so. Without educa-
tion he could gain the chimney-top — poor little blacka-
moor! — brandish his brush and sing his song of escape
from soot to sunshine. But the ideal of success meas-
ures the worth of the remark that it may be attained
without liberal education. If the accumulation of money
be the standard, we must admit that a man might make
a fortune in a hundred ways without education. But
he could make a fortune, also, without purity of life, or
noble character, or lofty faith. A man can pay much too
high a price for money, and not every man who buys


it knows its relative value with other possessions. Un-
doubtedly, Ezra Cornell and Matthew Vassar did not go
to college, and they succeeded in life. But their success
— what was it? Where do you see it now? Surely not
in their riches, but in the respect that tenderly cherishes
their memory, because, knowing its inestimable value,
they gave to others the opportunity of education which
had been denied to them."

Some time ago. Chancellor Lippincott, of the State
University of Kansas, wrote to each of the graduates
of that institution, asking them to state briefly the ad-
vantages which their experience showed that they have
derived from their college life and work.

Among these answers, I may quote a few:

One says : * ' My love for the State grew with every
lesson I received through her care. I saved five years
of my life by her training, and I am a more loyal and
a better citizen."

Another says this: *'I have a better standing in
the community than I could have gained in any other
way. ' *

Another says : "I would not exchange the advantages
gained for a hundred times their cost, either to Kansas
or to myself."

Another declares: **It is financially the best invest-
ment I ever made. ' '

To another it had given ''strong friendship with the
most intelligent young men of the State, those who are
certain to largely influence its destiny.' '

One said: *' It has given me a place and an influence
among a class of men whom I could not otherwise reach
at all."


Another said: ** I am better company for myself, and
a better citizen, with far more practical interest in the

Thus it is in Kansas, and thus it is everywhere. To
the young man or young woman of character, the col-
lege education does pay, from whatever standpoint you
may choose to regard it.

When I was a boy on a farm in Western New York,
some one urged my parents to send me to college.
" But what will he find to do when he gets through col-
lege?" they asked. *' Never mind that," a friend said;
' ' he will always find plenty to do. There is always room
at the top." There is always room at the top! All our
professions are crowded in America, but the crowd is
around the bottom of the ladder!

We are proud, and justly proud, of our common-
school system. The free school stands on every North-
ern cross-road, and it is rapidly finding its way into the
great New South. Every effort is made for the educa-
tion of the masses. There is no upper caste to reap the
benefits of an education, for which the poor man has to
pay. There is no class educated and ruling by right of
birth — no hereditary House of Lords. Our scholars
and our leaders are of the people, from the people. The
American plan is making us an intelligent people, as

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Online LibraryDavid Starr JordanThe care and culture of men: a series of addresses on the higher education by David Starr Jordan → online text (page 1 of 19)