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` banish him from their schools, the penalty and disgrace would be their own. The language of Homer, as a picturesque, melodious, and enchanting instrument of thought, has never been surpassed.
Now these great ancients have been, time out of mind, the teachers of the civilized world. They form a common bond, which unites the cultivated minds of all nations and ages together. He who cuts himself off from the classics, excludes himself from a world of delightful associations with the best minds. He fails to become a member of the great society of scholars; he is an alien from the great community of letters. He may be a learned man; he may have all the treasures of science at his command; he may speak the modern languages with facility; but if he have not imbued his mind with at least a tincture of classical taste, he will inevitably feel that a great defect exists in his intellectual culture.*
We have said, that the neglect of classical studies among liberally educated men is less general now than formerly." And yet these pursuits are too often thrown aside. Why should they be so? Why is classical study abandoned at all, at the close of the college course? Are there good reasons for laying it aside when one leaves the walls of the university? The apology is substantially this. It has no immediate connection with practical life. Imperative duty is not to be neglected for an elegant pastime. The lawyer and the physician must direct their energies to the business on which their living depends. The client does not inquire, whether an advocate is conversant with Greek metres, or
* The preceding paragraphs of this Essay were written by Professor Felton, of Harvard College; the remainder by Professor Edwards.
can write beautiful Latin. A religious society seek for a good theologian and pastor. They care little for the classical phrase of his discourses. In other words, the members of the learned professions must not diverge to the right hand or to the left. Even if classical learning should be, in some respects, connected with the practical business of life, it is not so regarded by the mass of the people. The lawyer who is known to possess a fine classical taste, is less popular, other things being equal, than his neighbor who is a lawyer and nothing else. If he would be much sought after by clients, he must not read Homer, unless by stealth.
This method of reasoning, however, does not seem to accord with facts. Some of the most successful men in all the professions have been accomplished classical scholars, pursuing the study of the ancient languages in the midst of exhausting labors. A few instances may be cited. Edmund Burke said, that Virgil was a book which he always had within his reach. William Pitt was deeply versed in the niceties of construction and peculiarities of idiom, both in the Greek and Latin languages. It is mentioned of Curran, that, amid the distractions of business and ambition, he was all his life returning with fresh delight to the perusal of the classics. In the last journey which he ever took, Horace and Virgil were his travelling companions. The late Chief Justice Parsons, of Massachusetts, filling, perhaps, the most laborious office in the State, always found time to gratify his classical taste. John Luzac, an eminent professor of Greek at Leyden, spoke of him as "a giant in Greek criticism." Robert Hall, in the most active period of his ministry, devoted several hours in a day, for a number of years, to a thorough study of the classics. He often referred to Plato in terms of fervid eulogy, expressing his astonish
ment at the neglect into which he apprehended the writings of that philosopher were sinking. In our own neighborhood, an eminent lawyer, constantly employed in the duties of his profession, stands confessedly at the head of American philologists. A judge, also, in one of our metropolitan courts, whose practical duties are of a very laborious nature, is a profound and accurate Greek scholar.
Reliance, however, in a question of this kind, need not be placed exclusively on special cases. It may be supported by satisfactory arguments, at least in relation to the clerical profession. A book written in Hebrew and Greek is their Magna Charta, their authoritative commission. Resort to translations is as obviously improper, as it would be for a constitutional lawyer to gain his knowledge of the political institutions of the State at second hand. A mastery of the original languages of the Bible was, probably, never attained by any one, who was not familiar with classical Greek. The main element of the New Testament is the later Attic dialect, as modified by the intermingling of words from other languages. Even authors of the highest name, in regard to style, like Xenophon and Pindar, throw much valuable light on the Scriptures. Homer and Herodotus remind the reader, in a thousand places, of the sweet simplicity and childlike artlessness which delight us in the narratives of the Pentateuch. Philo and Josephus are among the best helps for the interpretation of parts of the Bible. A large portion of the standard commentaries on the Scriptures, from the time of Jerome down, have been written in Latin.
The direct benefits of classical study to the medical and legal student may not be so obvious. The arguments which the lawyer employs, and the observations which direct the
physician's practice, are more or less of recent origin. Still, medical science first struck its roots into Grecian soil. The fathers of the healing art wrote in the Greek language. The distinguished physician, Boerhaave, who was well acquainted with Latin and Greek before he was eleven years old, was forcibly struck, in the course of his subsequent reading, with the correct method and sterling sense of Hippocrates. An eminent American physician has said, that the best descriptions of the symptoms of disease are found in the Greek language. Roman law is the parent and germ of every code which has been formed since. No sovereign, not even Napoleon himself, has done so much for the science of law, as the Greek Emperor Justinian. No language contains so many of the sources of scientific legislation as the Latin. It is a treasury of facts and principles down to our day.
It may be urged, indeed, that there is no necessity for repairing to the original fountain. All that is valuable in the treatises of Hippocrates, or in the rescripts of Justinian, are readily accessible in the modern languages. Why compel the student to ascend to the little spring hidden under the moss of an old language, when he can drink of a river that flows fast by his own door, and which has been increased by a thousand fresh fountains? A sufficient answer is, that we cannot understand a subject with certainty, if we do not trace it to its source. By the radical study of any topic, we come to feel an assurance of belief, which is one of the best elements of success, because it imparts to the mind a firm confidence in its own powers. It is said, that there are, in the writings of Hippocrates, some of the finest descriptions of the natural course of disease, disturbed neither by medicine nor violent interference. Now these
characteristic touches, which are the marks of genius, as well as of an accurate understanding, cannot be enjoyed through a translation. The more picturesque they are, the more need of seeing the very shape and coloring by which they are delineated. So of law and political science. Who has laid the best foundation for statesmanship, - the man that has patiently studied Demosthenes, Thucydides, and Po. lybius, in the original; or he whose knowledge of ancient Greece is made up from Langhorne's Plutarch, and Mitford's jaundiced History? Mere information is not the only thing which is needed. There are now American senators, whose heads are crammed with encyclopædias, but whose great, ponderous speeches have no other effect than to thin the senate-chamber. A statesman needs that close, vivid apprehension of a principle or theory, which he can get from Thucydides, but not from Rollin. In the sciences of law and medicine, much is depending on nice discrimination in language, or exact definition. Who is so well prepared to make accurate distinctions as he who is versed in the literature of those languages, where the greater number of medical and political terms have their origin?
Still more important are the indirect benefits of classical study. Among these are its effects in securing complete. ness of character, both intellectual and moral. The powers of the soul are various in their structure, and are developed only by various nourishment. Being a bright image of the perfect Mind that formed it, the soul has susceptibilities for all things beautiful and sublime in nature and in art. The law graven on it is violated whenever its affections are hemmed in upon one dusty track. A man may be so absorbed with the cure of the maladies of the body, or of legislation, that a single faculty of his mind attains an enor