Practical Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 299 pages of information about Practical Essays.


Farther, the ideal graduate, who is to guide and not follow opinion, should be well versed in all the bearings of the Spiritual Philosophy of the time.  The subject branches out into wide regions, but not wider than you should be capable of following it.  This is not a professional study merely; it is the study of a well-instructed man.

Once more.  A share of attention should be bestowed early on the higher Literature of the Imagination.  As, in after life, poetry and elegant composition are to be counted on as a pleasure and solace, they should be taken up at first as a study.  The critical examination of styles, and of authors, which forms an admirable basis of a student’s society, should be a work of study and research.  The advantages will be many and lasting.  To conceive the exact scope and functions of the Imagination in art, in science, in religion, and everywhere, will repay the trouble.


Ever since I remember, I have been accustomed to hear of the superiority of the Arts’ graduate, in various crafts, more especially as a teacher.  Many of you in these days pass into another vocation—­Letters, or the Press.  Here too, almost everything you learn will pay you professionally.  Still, I am careful not to rest the case for general education on professional grounds alone.  I might show you that the highest work of all—­original enquiry—­needs a broad basis of liberal study; or at all events is vastly aided by that.  Genius will work on even a narrow basis, but imperfect preparatory study leaves marks of imperfection in the product.

The same considerations that determine your voluntary studies, determine also the University Ideal.  A University, in my view, stands or falls with its Arts’ Faculty.  Without debating the details, we may say that this Faculty should always be representative of the needs of our intelligence, both for the professional and for the extra-professional life; it should not be of the shop, shoppy.  The University exists because the professions would stagnate without it; and still more, because it may be a means of enlarging knowledge at all points.  Its watchword is Progress.  We have, at last, the division of labour in teaching; outside the University, teachers too much resemble the Regent of old—­having too many subjects, and too much time spent in grinding.  Our teachers are exactly the reverse.

Yet, there cannot be progress without a sincere and single eye to the truth.  The fatal sterility of the middle ages, and of our first and second University periods, had to do with the mistake of gagging men’s mouths, and dictating all their conclusions.  Things came to be so arranged that contradictory views ran side by side, like opposing electric currents; the thick wrappage of ingenious phraseology arresting the destructive discharge.  There was, indeed, an elaborate and pretentious Logic, supplied by Aristotle, and amended by Bacon; what was still wanted was a taste of the Logic of Freedom.

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Practical Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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