And yet: in such a world as this; governed by a Being who has made sunshine, and flowers, and green grass, and the song of birds, and happy human smiles; and who would educate by them—if we would let Him—His human children from the cradle to the grave; in such a world as this, will you grudge any particle of that education, even any harmless substitute for it, to those spirits in prison, whose surroundings too often tempt them, from the cradle to the grave, to fancy that the world is composed of bricks and iron, and governed by inspectors and policemen? Preach to those spirits in prison, as you know far better than we parsons how to preach: but let them have besides some glimpses of the splendid fact, that outside their prison-house is a world which God, not man, has made; wherein grows everywhere that tree of knowledge which is likewise the tree of life; and that they have a right to some small share of its beauty, and its wonder, and its rest, for their own health of soul and body, and for the health of their children after them.
Fresh from the Marbles of the British Museum, I went my way through London streets. My brain was still full of fair and grand forms; the forms of men and women whose every limb and attitude betokened perfect health, and grace, and power, and a self-possession and self-restraint so habitual and complete that it had become unconscious, and undistinguishable from the native freedom of the savage. For I had been up and down the corridors of those Greek sculptures, which remain as a perpetual sermon to rich and poor, amid our artificial, unwholesome, and it may be decaying pseudo-civilisation; saying with looks more expressive than all words—Such men and women can be; for such they have been; and such you may be yet, if you will use that science of which you too often only boast. Above all, I had been pondering over the awful and yet tender beauty of the maiden figures from the Parthenon and its kindred temples. And these, or such as these, I thought to myself, were the sisters of the men who fought at Marathon and Salamis; the mothers of many a man among the ten thousand whom Xenophon led back from Babylon to the Black Sea shore; the ancestresses of many a man who conquered the East in Alexander’s host, and fought with Porus in the far Punjab. And were these women mere dolls? These men mere gladiators? Were they not the parents of philosophy, science, poetry, the plastic arts? We talk of education now. Are we more educated than were the ancient Greeks? Do we know anything about education, physical, intellectual, or aesthetic, and I may say moral likewise—religious education, of course, in our sense of the word, they had none—but do we know anything about education of which they have not taught us at least the rudiments? Are there not some branches of education which they perfected,