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To apply to such authorship as this the prevailing æsthetic method and call it the only admissible one, or the most desirable one, evinces an utter misconception of literature itself, as, also, a lamentable indifference to the best results it is designed to reach. A sentimental, drawing-room coquetting with literature is one thing ; its rational and philosophic pursuit, as the embodiment of the world's best thought to aid us in our thinking, is another, and it is to this latter only that we refer in pressing the claims of such a study upon the attention of the modern student. Pleasure and knowledge and culture and discipline—these, when rightly related and expressed, establish a claim so valid and potent that he who ignores it must justify his attitude and be prepared to tell us just in what particulars and provinces mental discipline is found. Literature is thought in written form. The world's best thinkers are behind it as its explanation, and the world's best interests before it as a motive. Long since, it has entered so vitally and variedly into the mental life of men that no amount of prejudice or neous teaching can separate the one from the other, and who of us can tell what he owes of personal power, mentally considered, to those distinctively literary influences that have rounded him throughout life, and which even now are about us all, as an inspiration and a help!
From this brief discussion, we note two or three suggestions of practical moment, and remark
1. That such studies should hold a higher place in the esteem of scholars. It is a fact patent to all that such esteem has not been heretofore accorded them, nor is such a view at present prevalent. If the course of our reasoning has been correct, and there is a valid benefit in such pursuits, especially in their disciplinary function, then it becomes all men of intelligence to readjust their opinions regarding them. They are to insist that men of letters, if worthy of their calling, belong to the great fraternity of men of learning; that comprehensive scholarship rightly implies an intimate acquaintance with the world's best literature and that the Baconian idea of the rank of authors should be reaffirmed in these modern days.
2. Literary Studies, moreover, should have a larger place in our Liberal Institutions. Accepting it as conceded, that all other leading departments have been accorded their rightful place in our collegiate curricula, it is a fitting time to press anew the claims of the studies now in question. What their position, at present, is, no thoughtful observer of modern education can contemplate without amazement and regret. Despite the fact, that language is taught so prominently in our secondary schools and our colleges, it is lamentable to note how generally it is taught as language only, quite apart from its inner literary quality. It is thus that it comes to pass that students who may have spent the best part of their early life in linguistic study are conspicuously deficient in that phase of training which is specifically literary. So devoid are they, often, of literary discernment that they may be grammarians, verbal critics, translators, commentators, and accepted authorities in matters of text and structure, and yet be in no true sense, cultured on literary lines—in no true sense, men of letters. We maintain, that language itself cannot be properly taught apart from its innermost literary life ; that whatever place may be assigned to science, philosophy or philology in any course of undergraduate study, a place of equal prominence is to be assigned to studies that are literary. Our institutions of learning should be what they purport to be-literary institutions. Every college should be, as such, an acknowledged literary centre, a home of taste and culture ; an attractive resort for authors, and a school of training from which shall issue, in each successive year, a body of men imbued with literary impulses and determined to advance, in every possible way, the literary interests of the nation. Every college graduate should be a man of letters as of learning, and the influence of all liberal institutions be a controlling one in guiding the literary developments of the people among whom they are established.
3. We emphasize, therefore, the special claims of English Style and English Literary Studies. There is, in every institution of learning, a general literary influence begotten of contact with books and scholars. There is, more specifically still, an influence of a literary character resulting from classical as distinct from philosophic and scientific studies. We speak, however, of an order of literary pursuit that is purely English-the study of our vernacular authorship and such collateral branches as are necessary to its true interpretation. Such knowledge and culture and training are often lacking where the other forms exist, and serve to show, thereby, the special need of the study of the home literature. Todhunter, Staunton and Thwing have called attention to the subordinate status of such studies in English and American institutions and assert that they form a department second to none in value and interest. There is no conflict here encouraged with any other line of learning ; no conflict, certainly, with the study of language, but simply a protest against the scanty space hitherto assigned to English studies in our courses of instruction, and a plea that something like adequate area be given them. If our secondary schools are to do worthier work in this direction, the colleges must invite it and demand it. If teachers of English of high endowment and accurate scholarship are to be at call, when needed, our colleges must train them. If the public literary taste of England and America is to be stronger and purer, or even preserved in its present character, the result is to be reached mainly through the influence of our academic centres. If college and university men are to know, as they ought to know, the literary history, product, spirit and tendencies of the country, the facilities of such knowledge are to be accorded them, so as not to present the anomalous picture of being adepts in every literature save their own. Our vernacular authorship should mainly depend on our colleges for its tone and drift: its scholarly and stable qualities; its purity and moral power over the people. Literary studies of every order must have their rightful place in general esteem and scholarly circles. Not only are we to know the nature of mind and mental, action; the laws of the physical world and the principles of philology ; but must further know, and know as fully, how the world's greatest philosophers and scientists and linguists have embodied their thoughts in the best external form ; must know the great principles and laws of literary expression ; must be able to call the world's great masters in prose and verse our personal friends and helpers, and be able ourselves to utilize all our other knowledge by the ability to embody and express it.
Literature, as an essential part of human development and branch of liberal learning, is yet to have its place. The Humanities are, once again, to be reinstated in their old position of prominence. The gross, material tendencies of the day, so dominant and exacting, must speedily yield to better influences. The book and the pen are, yet again, to shape events. The library is yet to rule the world.