Practical Essays eBook

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

If the properly literary part of the present examinations were much of a reality, there would be a nice discussion as to the amount of literary tact that could be imparted in connection with a foreign language, as translated or translatable.  But I have made an ample concession, when I propose that the trial should be made of examining in literature in this fashion; and I do not see any difficulty beyond the initial repugnance of the professors of languages to be employed in this task, and the fear, on the part of candidates, that, undue stress might be placed on points that need a knowledge of originals.

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I will conclude with a remark on the apparent tendency of the wide options in the Commissioners’ scheme.  No one subject is obligatory; and the choice is so wide that by a very narrow range of acquirements a man may sometimes succeed.  No doubt, as a rule, it requires a considerable mixture of subjects:  both sciences and literature have to be included.  But I find the case of a man entering the Indian Service by force of Languages alone, which I cannot but think a miscarriage.  Then the very high marks assigned to Mathematics allow a man to win with no other science, and no other culture, but a middling examination in English.  To those that think so highly of foreign languages, this must seem a much greater anomaly than it does to me.  I would prefer, however, that such a candidate had traversed a wider field of science, instead of excelling in high mathematics alone.

There are, I should say, three great regions of study that should be fairly represented by every successful candidate.  The first is the Sciences as a whole, in the form and order that I have suggested.  The second is English Composition, in which successful men in the Indian competition sometimes show a cipher.  The third is what I may call loosely the Humanities, meaning the department of institutions and history, with perhaps literature:  to be computed in any or all of the regions of ancient and modern history.  In every one of these three departments, I would fix a minimum, below which the candidate must not fall.


[Footnote 6:  The Civil Service Examination Scheme, considered with reference (1) to Sciences, and (2) to Languages.  A paper read before the Educational Section of the Social Science Association, at the meeting in Aberdeen. 1877:  with additions relevant to Lord Salisbury’s Scheme.]

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