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rally exercised in order to its perfect state ; and this
is its cultivation.

Again, as health ought to precede labour of the body,
and as a man in health can do what an unhealthy man
cannot do, and as of this health the properties are
strength, energy, agility, graceful carriage and action,
manual dexterity, and endurance of fatigue, so in like
manner general culture of mind is the best aid to
professional and scientific study, and educated men
can do what illiterate cannot ; and the man who has
learned to think and to reason and to compare and
to discriminate and to analyse, who has refined his
taste, and formed his judgment, and sharpened his
mental vision, will not indeed at once be a lawyer, or
a pleader, or an orator, or a statesman, or a physician,
or a good landlord, or a man of business, or a soldier,
or an engineer, or a chemist, or a geologist, or an
antiquarian, but he will be placed in that state of
intellect in which he can take up any one of the sciences
or callings I have referred to, or any other for which
he has a taste or special talent, with an ease, a grace,
a versatility, and a success, to which another is a
stranger. In this sense then, and as yet I have said
but a very few words on a large subject, mental culture
is emphatically useful.

If then I am arguing, and shall argue, against Pro-
fessional or Scientific knowledge as the sufficient end
of a University Education, let me not be supposed,
gentlemen, to be disrespectful towards particular
studies, or arts, or vocations, and those who are
engaged in them. In saying that Law or Medicine
is not the end of a University course, I do not mean
to imply that the University does not teach Law or
Medicine. What indeed can it teach at all, if it does


.not teach something particular ? It teaches all know-
ledge by teaching all branches of knowledge, and in no
/other way. I do but say that there will be this
distinction as regards a Professor of Law, or of
/Medicine, or of Geology, or of Political Economy,
I in a University and out of it, that out of a University
/ he is in danger of being absorbed and narrowed by his
; pursuit, and of giving Lectures which are the Lectures
j of nothing more than a lawyer, physician, geologist,
or political economist ; whereas in a University he will
just know where he and his science stand, he has come
to it, as it were, from a height, he has taken a survey
x>f all knowledge, he is kept from extravagance by the
very rivalry of other studies, he has gained from them
a special illumination and largeness of mind and
freedom and self-possession, and he treats his own
in consequence with a philosophy and a resource,
which belongs not to the study itself, but to his liberal

This then is how I should solve the fallacy, for so
I must call it, by which Locke and his disciples would
frighten us from cultivating the intellect, under the
notion that no education is useful which does not teach
us some temporal calling, or some mechanical art, or
some physical secret. I say that a cultivated intellect,
because it is a good in itself, brings with it a power
and a grace to every work and occupation which it
undertakes, and enables us to be more useful, and to
a greater number. There is a duty we owe to human
society as such, to the state to which we belong, to
the sphere in which we move, to the individuals to-
wards whom we are variously related, and whom we
successively encounter in life ; and that philosophical
or liberal education, as I have called it, which is the
1 60


proper function of a University, if it refuses the fore-
most place to professional interests, does but postpone
them to the formation of the citizen, and while it
subserves the larger interests of philanthropy, prepares
also for the successful prosecution of those merely
personal objects which at first sight it seems to

And now, gentlemen, I wish to be allowed to enforce
in detail what I have been saying by some extracts
from the writings to which I have already alluded, and
to which I am so greatly indebted.

" It is an undisputed maxim in Political Economy,"
says Dr. Copleston, " that the separation of professions
and the division of labour tend to the perfection of
every art, to the wealth of nations, to the general
comfort and well-being of the community. This prin-
ciple of division is in some instances pursued so far as
to excite the wonder of people to whose notice it is
for the first time pointed out. There is no saying to
what extent it may not be carried ; and the more the
powers of each individual are concentrated in one
employment, the greater skill and quickness will he
naturally display in performing it. But, while he thus
contributes more effectually to the accumulation of
national wealth, he becomes himself more and more
degraded as a rational being. In proportion as his
sphere of action is narrowed his mental powers and
habits become contracted; and he resembles a sub-
ordinate part of some powerful machinery, useful in
its place, but insignificant and worthless out of it. If
it be necessary, as it is beyond all question necessary,
that society should be split into divisions and sub-
divisions, in order that its several duties may be well
performed, yet we must be careful not to yield up
161 L


ourselves wholly and exclusively to the guidance of
this system ; we must observe what its evils are, and we
should modify and restrain it, by bringing into action
other principles, which may serve as a check and
counterpoise to the main force.

" There can be no doubt that every art is improved
by confining the professor of it to that single study.
But, although the art itself is advanced by this concentra-
tion of mind in its service, the individual who is confined
to it goes back. The advantage of the community is
nearly in an inverse ratio with his own.

" Society itself requires some other contribution from
each individual, besides the particular duties of his
profession. And, if no such liberal intercourse be
established, it is the common failing of human nature,
to be engrossed with petty views and interests, to
underrate the importance of all in which we are not
concerned, and to carry our partial notions into cases
where they are inapplicable, to act, in short, as so
many unconnected units, displacing and repelling one

" In the cultivation of literature is found that common
link, which, among the higher and middling depart-
ments of life, unites the jarring sects and subdivisions
into one interest, which supplies common topics, and
..kindles common feelings, unmixed with those narrow
prejudices with which all professions are more or less
infected. The knowledge, too, which is thus acquired,
expands and enlarges the mind, excites its faculties,
and calls those limbs and muscles into freer exercise
which, by too constant use in one direction, not only
acquire an illiberal air, but are apt also to lose some-
what of their native play and energy. And thus,
without directly qualifying a man for any of the


employments of life, it enriches and ennobles all.
Without teaching him the peculiar business of any
one office or calling, it enables him to act his part in
each of them with better grace and more elevated
carriage ; and, if happily planned and conducted, is a
main ingredient in that complete and generous educa-
tion which fits a man 'to perform justly, skilfully,
and magnanimously, all the offices, both private and
public, of peace and war.' " l

The view of Liberal Education, advocated in these
extracts, is expanded by Mr. Davison in the Essay to
which I have already referred. He lays more stress
on the " usefulness " of Liberal Education in the larger
sense of the word than his predecessor in the con-
troversy. Instead of arguing that the Utility of
knowledge to the individual varies inversely with its
Utility to the public, he chiefly employs himself on
the suggestions contained in Dr. Copleston's last
sentences. He shows, first, that a Liberal Education
is something far higher, even in the scale of Utility,
than what is commonly called a Useful Education,
and next, that it is necessary or useful for the purposes
even of that Professional Education which commonly
engrosses the title of Useful. The former of these
two theses he recommends to us in an argument from
which the following passages are selected :

" It is to take a very contracted view of life/' he
says, " to think with great anxiety how persons may
be educated to superior skill in their department, com-
paratively neglecting or excluding the more liberal and
enlarged cultivation. In his (Mr. Edge worth's)
system, the value of every attainment is to be measured

1 Vid. Milton on Education.


by its subserviency to a calling. The specific duties
of that calling are exalted at the cost of those free and
independent tastes and virtues which come in to sustain
the common relations of society, and raise the indi-
vidual in them. In short, a man is to be usurped by
his profession. He is to be clothed in its garb from
head to foot. His virtues, his science, and his ideas
are all to be put into a gown or uniform, and the whole
man to be shaped, pressed, and stiffened, in the exact
mould of his technical character. Any interloping
accomplishments, or a faculty which cannot be taken
into public pay, if they are to be indulged in him at
all, must creep along under the cloak of his more
serviceable privileged merits. Such is the state of
perfection to which the spirit and general tendency
of this system would lead us.

" But the professional character is not the only one
which a person engaged in a profession has to support.
He is not always upon duty. There are services he
owes, which are neither parochial, nor forensic, nor
military, nor to be described by any such epithet of
civil regulation, and yet are in nowise inferior to
those that bear these authoritative titles ; inferior
neither in their intrinsic value, nor their moral import,
nor their impression upon society. As a friend, as a
companion, as a citizen at large ; in the connections of
domestic life ; in the improvement and embellishment
of his leisure, he has a sphere of action, revolving, if
you please, within the sphere of his profession, but not
clashing with it ; in which if he can show none of the
advantages of an improved understanding, whatever
may be his skill or proficiency in the other, he is no
more than an ill-educated man.

" There is a certain faculty in which all nations of


any refinement are great practitioners. It is not taught
at school or college as a distinct science ; though it
deserves that what is taught there should be made to
have some reference to it ; nor is it endowed at all by
the public ; everybody being obliged to exercise it for
himself in person, which he does to the best of his
skill. But in nothing is there a greater difference
than in the manner of doing it. The advocates of
professional learning will smile when we tell them that
this same faculty which we would have encouraged, is
simply that of speaking good sense in English, without
fee or reward, in common conversation. They will
smile when we lay some stress upon it ; but in reality
it is no such trifle as they imagine. Look into the
huts of savages, and see, for there is nothing to listen
to, the dismal blank of their stupid hours of silence ;
their professional avocations of war and hunting are
over ; and, having nothing to do, they have nothing
to say. Turn to improved life, and you find conver-
sation in all its forms the medium of something more
than an idle pleasure ; indeed, a very active agent in
circulating and forming the opinions, tastes, and feel-
ings of a whole people. It makes of itself a con-
siderable affair. Its topics are the most promiscuous
all those which do not belong to any particular pro-
vince. As for its power and influence, we may fairly
say that it is of just the same consequence to a man's
immediate society, how he talks, as how he acts.
Now of all those who furnish their share to rational
conversation, a mere adept in his own art is universally
admitted to be the worst. The sterility and unin-
structiveness of such a person's social hours are quite
proverbial. Or if he escape being dull, it is only by
launching into ill-timed, learned loquacity. We do


not desire of him lectures or speeches ; and he has no-
thing else to give. Among benches he may be powerful ;
but seated on a chair he is quite another person. On
the other hand, we may affirm, that one of the best
companions is a man who, to the accuracy and research
of a profession, has joined a free excursive acquaint-
ance with various learning, and caught from it the
spirit of general observation."

Having thus shown that a liberal education is a real
benefit to the subjects of it, as members of society, in
(J.the various duties and circumstances and accidents of
life, he goes on, in the next place, to show that, over
and above those direct services which might fairly be
expected of it, it actually subserves the discharge of
those particular functions, and the pursuit of those
particular advantages, which are connected with pro-
fessional exertion, and to which Professional Educa-
tion is directed.

"We admit/' he observes, "that when a person
makes a business of one pursuit, he is in the right way
to eminence in it ; and that divided attention will
rarely give excellence in many. But our assent will
go no further. For, to think that the way to prepare
a person for excelling in any one pursuit (and that is
the only point in hand), is to fetter his early studies,
and cramp the first development of his mind, by a
reference to the exigencies of that pursuit barely, is a
very different, notion, and one which, we apprehend,
deserves to be exploded rather than received. Possibly
a few of the abstract, insulated kinds of learning might
be approached in that way. The exceptions to be
made are very few, and need not be recited. But for
the acquisition of professional and practical ability such
maxims are death to it. The main ingredients of that
1 66


ability are requisite knowledge and cultivated faculties ;
but, of the two, the latter is by far the chief. A man
of well-improved faculties has the command of another's
knowledge. A man without them, has not the com-
mand of his own.

" Of the intellectual powers, the judgment is that
which takes the foremost lead in life. How to form
it to the two habits it ought to possess, of exactness
and vigour, is the problem. It would be ignorant
presumption so much as to hint at any routine of
method by which these qualities may with certainty
be imparted to every or any understanding. Still,
however, we may safely lay it down that they are not
to be got by a gatherer of simples,' but are the com-
bined essence and extracts of many different things,
drawn from much varied reading and discipline, first,
and observation afterwards. For if there be a single
intelligible point on this head, it is that a man who
has been trained to think upon one subject or for one
subject only, will never be a good judge even in that
one : whereas the enlargement of his circle gives him
increased knowledge and power in a rapidly increasing
ratio. So much do ideas act, not as solitary units, but
by grouping and combination ; and so clearly do all
the things that fall within the proper province of the
same faculty of the mind, intertwine with and support
each other. Judgment lives as it were by comparison
and discrimination. Can it be doubted, then, whether
the range and extent of that assemblage of things upon
which it is practised in its first essays are of use to its
power ?

" To open our way a little further on this matter,
we will define what we mean by the power of judg-
ment ; and then try to ascertain among what kind


of studies the improvement of it may be expected
at all.

"Judgment does not stand here for a certain
homely, useful quality of intellect, that guards a per-
son from committing mistakes to the injury of his
fortunes or common reputation ; but for that master-
principle of business, literature, and talent, which
gives him strength in any subject he chooses to
grapple with, and enables him to seize the strong point
in it. Whether this definition be metaphysically
correct or not, it comes home to the substance of our
inquiry. It describes the power that every one desires
to possess when he comes to act in a profession, or
elsewhere; and corresponds with our best idea of a
cultivated mind.

" Next, it will not be denied, that in order to do
any good to the judgment, the mind must be employed
upon such subjects as come within the cognisance of
that faculty, and give some real exercise to its percep-
tions. Here we have a rule of selection by which the
different parts of learning may be classed for our pur-
pose. Those which belong to the province of the
judgment are religion (in its evidences and interpreta-
tion), ethics, history, eloquence, poetry, theories of
general speculation, the fine arts, and works of wit.
Great as the variety of these large divisions of learn-
ing may appear, they are all held in union by two
capital principles of connection. First, they are all
quarried out of one and the same great subject of
man's moral, social, and feeling nature. And secondly,
they are all under the control (more or less strict) of
the same power of moral reason."

If these studies, he continues, "be such as give
a direct play and exercise to the faculty of the judg-


ment, then they are the true basis of education for the
active and inventive powers, whether destined for a
profession or any other use. Miscellaneous as the
assemblage may appear, of history, eloquence, poetry,
ethics, &c., blended together, they will all conspire in
an union of effect. They are necessary mutually to
explain and interpret each other. The knowledge
derived from them all will amalgamate, and the habits
of a mind versed and practised in them by turns will
join to produce a richer vein of thought and of more
general and practical application than could be obtained
of any single one, as the fusion of the metals into
Corinthian brass gave the artist his most ductile and
perfect material. Might we venture to imitate an
author (whom indeed it is much safer to take as an
authority than to attempt to copy), Lord Bacon, in
some of his concise illustrations of the comparative
utility of the different studies, we should say that
history would give fulness, moral philosophy strength,
and poetry elevation to the understanding. Such in
reality is the natural force and tendency of the studies ;
but there are few minds susceptible enough to derive
from them any sort of virtue adequate to those high
expressions. We must be contented therefore to
lower our panegyric to this, that a person cannot avoid
receiving some infusion and tincture, at least, of those
several qualities, from that course of diversified read-
ing. One thing is unquestionable, that the elements of
general reason are not to be found fully and truly
expressed in any one kind of study ; and that he
who would wish to know her idiom, must read it
in many books.

" If different studies are useful for aiding, they are
still more useful for correcting each other ; for as they


have their particular merits severally, so they have
their defects, and the most extensive acquaintance with
one can produce only an intellect either too flashy or
too jejune, or infected with some other fault of con-
fined reading. History, for example, shows things
as they are, that is, the morals and interests of men
disfigured and perverted by all their imperfections of
passion, folly, and ambition ; philosophy strips the
picture too much ; poetry adorns it too much ; the
concentrated lights of the three correct the false
peculiar colouring of each, and show us the truth.
The right mode of thinking upon it is to be had from
them taken all together, as every one must know who
has seen their united contributions of thought and
feeling expressed in the masculine sentiment of our
immortal statesman, Mr. Burke, whose eloquence is
inferior only to his more admirable wisdom. If any
mind improved like his, is to be our instructor, we
must go to the fountain head of things as ne .did, and
study not his works but his method ; by the one we
may become feeble imitators, by the other arrive at
some ability of our own. But, as all biography assures
us, he, and every other able thinker, has been formed,
not by a parsimonious admeasurement of studies to
some definite future object (which is Mr. Edge worth's
maxim), but by taking a wide and liberal compass,
and thinking a great deal on many subjects with no
better end in view than because the exercise was
one which made them more rational and intelligent

But I must bring these extracts to an end. To-day

I have confined myself to saying that that training of

the intellect, which is best for the individual himself,

best enables him to discharge his duties to society.



The Philosopher, indeed, and the man of the world
differ in their very notion, but the methods by which
they are respectively formed are pretty much the
same. The Philosopher has the same command of
matters of thought, which the true citizen and gentle-
man has of matters of business and conduct. If then
a practical end must be assigned to a University course,
I say it is that of training good members of society-
Its art is the art of social life, and its end is fitness for
the world. It neither confines its views to particular
professions on the one hand, nor creates heroes or in-
spires genius on the other. Works indeed of genius
fall under no art ; heroic minds come under no rule ;
a University is not a birthplace of poets or of immortal
authors, of founders of schools, leaders of colonies, or
conquerors of nations. It does not promise a genera-
tion of Aristotles or Newtons, of Napoleons or Wash-
ingtons, of Raphaels or Shakespeares, though such
miracles of nature it has before now contained within
its precincts. Nor is it content on the other hand with
forming the critic or the experimentalist, the economist
or the o^ineer, though such too it includes within its
scope. fVBut a University training is the great ordinary
means to a great but ordinary end ; it aims at raising
the intellectual tone of society, at cultivating the public
mind, at purifying the national taste, at supplying true
principles to popular enthusiasm and fixed aims to
popular aspiration, at giving enlargement and sobriety
to the ideas of the age, at facilitating the exercise of
po'itical power, and refining the intercourse of private
Jife. It is the education which gives a man a clear
conscious view of his own opinions and judgments, a
truth in developing them, an eloquence in expressing
them, and a force in urging them. It teaches him to


see things as they are, to go right to the point, to
disentangle a skein of thought, to detect what is
sophistical, and to discard what is irrelevant. It
prepares him to fill any post with credit, and to
master any subject with facility. It shows him how
to accommodate himself to others, how to throw him-
self into their state of mind, how to bring before them
his own, how to influence them, how to come to an
understanding with them, how to bear with them. He
is at home in any society, he has common ground with
every class ; he knows when to speak and when to be
silent ; he is able to converse, he is able to listen ;
he can ask a question pertinently, and gain a lesson
seasonably, when he has nothing to impart himself ; he
is ever ready, yet never in the way ; he is a pleasant
companion, and a comrade you can depend upon ; he
knows when to be serious and when to trifle, and he
has a sure tact which enables him to trifle with grace-
fulness and to be serioudMfcrith effect. He has the
repose of a mind which lives in itself, while it lives in
the world, and which has resources for its happiness at
home when it cannot go abroad. He has a gift which
serves him in public, and supports him in retirement,
without which good fortune is but vulgar, and with

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Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanOn the scope & nature of university education → online text (page 15 of 22)