« ПретходнаНастави »
recals the labours and triumphs of its sages; where the governments appear to feel their glory identified with the literary reputation of their subjects, and the people consider the renown of their scholars as honouring and ennobling their country.-Is it wonderful that professor, and teacher, and student should labour with a common, burning and unremitted zeal,* and that the Germans should have rendered themselves as they are at this day, by far the best scholars and the most learned people in the civilized world!
It is greatly to be regretted that the language and literature of such a people should be so little known in the United States. Inberiting from the English a good fund of prejudice against all foreign nations, and honestly believing ourselves, in the true spirit of John Bullism, the most wise and the most enlightened of all mankind, we live ignorant of the improvements, at least of the literary improvements of other people, and then are quite offended if laughed at for our voluntary blindness, and in many cases for our real igyorance. If our commercial and political intercourse with Germany is not great, a literary intercourse ought to be sedulously cultivated, and our scholars should no longer continue ignorant of the language of a people pre-eminent in modern times for the originality of their conceptions, the extent and variety of their erudition, and the depth of their researches.
* It is rare, says Mr. Dwight, to find a Professor who cannot translate from six to seventeen languages, and speak three or four. It is not uncommon for students and professors also to devote fifteen or sixteen hours a day to study, and to continue this habit for years. Of the perseverance of the students, and the high value they place on the instructions and information they derive from the Profes. sors at the Universities, the following anecdote will give a singular illustration. Even the circulation of such a story, if the fact itself should be discredited, indicates a peculiar state of society. A young man from Hesse Cassel, who had passed three years at the University of Heidelberg, baving finished his education, started for home with nearly twenty volumes of notes which he had taken at the lectures. On the way, his trunk, containing his note books, was cut off from the carriage. He was so distressed in consequence of this robbery, for he regarded it as the loss of his education, that he returned to Heidelberg, and studied three years longer, to provide himself with a trunk full of learning. This anecdote, it is true, exhibits the eagerness of the students to collect the opinions and remarks of the professors, in rather a ludicrous light. A short residence at a German university, however, will convince any one, that this habit results not so much from a belief that the professors are oracular, as from the peculiar circumstances in which the students are placed. Most of them are in such indigent circumstances, not only at the university, but even for several years after they have become lawyers, phy. sicians, clergymen, and instructors in the gymnasia, that they are unable to purchase many books. The notes which they take, contain not only extracts of the lectures, but a list of all the authorities referred to by the professor, with the chapters and sections. When investigating similar subjects afterwards, instead of being com. pelled to search a long time for the works in which they are discussed, they are able to refer to them immediately. Many of the professors have likewise their own peculiar theories, which are not to be found in any published work; for they often do not publish the substance of their lectures until late in life.”
We have noticed in the early part of this article, the contrast which Mr. Dwight so often makes between the state of education in Catholic and Protestant countries. At pages 244–5, he has stated his views clearly and forcibly. We are no partizans on this question-we only wish to present a fair exposition, as far as our means permit, of the subject. We know not that the Catholics have uniformly paid as much attention to the education of the poor and the labouring classes of society, as the Protestants. In political instruction, we believe, they are far behind hand. We think, however, that Spain, Ireland and Spanish America, referred to by Mr. Dwight, are not fair examples. Other causes besides religion have influenced their condition—there was as much political as religious bigotry manifested in the government of the Spanish colonies. The following table will shew that in many parts of Europe the Catholics have exerted themselves with laudable energy and success in diffusing education through all ranks and conditions of the people. It is taken, excepting the two items which are marked by asterisks, from Balbi,* one of the most distinguished statistical writers of the present day. These we have found among the articles of literary intelligence contained in the “Revue Encyclopedique" for the last year.
Religion. In the "Pays de Vaud, Protestant, there is 1 child at school for every 6.6 inbabitants. Prussia, Protestant
7. * Bavaria, Catholic
8. Low Countries, Catholic
9.7. United States, Protestant 1 do
11. Austria, Catholic
17.6. If we were to advert to the means of diffusing political information in the same countries, the result would be widely different. In the United States, there is 1 Journal for every 11,600 inhabitants.t Low Countries, 1
* La Monarchie Française comparée aux Principaux Etats du Globe. Par Adrien Balbi. Paris, 1828.
+ While we publish the tables of M. Balbi, we are aware that for the United States, where the changes are so rapid that no statist not residing on the spot can keep pace with them, many allowances must be made. In England, also, it is probable that the number of copies printed of each leading journal more than compensates for their comparatively small numbers. VOL. IV.NO. 7.
We have presented the bright and strong lights of the German Universities; let us now consider the shadows that are mingled with them. Two circumstances have exposed them to the severe strictures of foreigners. The one certainly a great blemish, but capable of an easy and effectual cure; the other arising, to use the language of some ancient philosophers, from the "nature of things," and only to be judged after a careful comparison of good and evil.
The turbulence, quarrels, duels, and carousals of the students, form the first and great cause of complaint against these institutions. Mr. Russell devotes many pages to this source of scandal and reproach. These habits have arisen in a great degree from one or two unfortunate customs that have prevailed for some time in these Universities, have been promoted by the great degree of personal independence which the students, “Burschen," as they term themselves, have gloried in cultivating, and have been encouraged in later times by the military spirit of the age, and by the example set by these very students in the last great struggles of Europe-in the “liberation war,” as it is popularly termed in Germany-when raising from every University the cry of national independence, the Burschen placed themselves in the front of battle, and in many a hard-fought field shared in the danger and the triumph of their country. Such patriotism and so much courage seemed to sanction, in public opinion, some of those errors which it would have been so easy to eradicate. For when it was supposed by the Congress of Vienna, that these young men had returned from the army infected with principles that were alarming if not dangerous, filled with exaggerated notions of the future grandeur and prosperity of their country if they could unite the German race and its broken tribes into one family under one government, and were actually forming under these impressions secret societies for the reformation of the political state of Germany; the members of the Holy Alliance quickly interfered and suppressed every suspicious association. But the quarrels of the students, as affecting only their individual interests, were left to their own discretion.
The young men in each University form themselves into clans. Those from each kingdom or principality associate together into what they term “Landmannschaften,” literally, countrymanship, and it immediately becomes the object of each of these clans to control the rest and the University, and to annoy and bully the Philistines, as they courteously call the townsmen. In the prosecution of these very praiseworthy designs, perpetual broils take place, and in some of the Universi
ties scarcely a morning passes over without a duel. These duels in themselves are supremely ridiculous. Swords are the instruments of combat, and the parties, according to Mr. Dwight, go out so completely encased in a leathern jacket, stuffed and padded, and descending below the waist, that their bodies are invulnerable. The arms and face are, therefore, the only parts exposed, for it is considered unworthy of a Burschen to strike at the legs, and were it not that they sometimes lose an eye or a nose, their quarrels would be altogether comic. The scars they gain on the face are looked upon only as marks of honourable distinction. The parties are attended by surgeons, witnesses, seconds and an umpire, who all gravely smoke and see that the combat is fair, and continued until one party re, ceives a wound sufficient to atone for such serious offences as generally lead to these interviews.
It is amusing, however, to notice that even in their quarrels, something like a literary feeling predominates. They quarrel by book, by the card, as Touchstone says. The terms of reproach are arranged and graduated, and the reproach (blows are not permitted in Germany, and would lead to mortal combat) which closes the verbal controversy, and allows no reply but by the sword, the last term of insult and defiance, the inexpiable offence is to call your adversary, not liar or scoundrel, but a “ dummer junge," or blockhead.
That the governments of Germany could check at once all this unruly conduct of the students no one can doubt. In that country, the Universities are the avenues to all professions, all civil offices, and in most instances, even to military appointments. Expulsion from a University would close a young man's prospects for life, and drive him for subsistence among the labouring classes, at an age and with habits that unfit him for joining them advantageously. With such powerful means of control in their hands, it seems preposterous to suppose that these disorders could not be suppressed. But the governments leave the regulation of these points to the heads of the Universities. Now the professors, as we have already seen, depend in a great measure for their incomes and support on the students who attend their lectures, and if any steps were taken in one University to restrain what the Burschen consider as their indefeasible privileges and long sanctioned rights, they would almost universally leave the offending institution, and repair to some other seminary. A joint and sincere effort of all the Universities could effect a reform, but no one, whatever may be its standing or reputation, can attempt it alone.
Hence has arisen the second charge against the Universities, of the want of order and discipline, and the reproach that the professors and teachers become so dependent on the students that they neither attempt to repress their riots, nor enforce their attendance on the lectures. Even supposing this to be in some measure true, we must still weigh the comparative merits of two systems and examine whether the results of the German discipline, with all its acknowledged defects, have not in value far exceeded the contrary system as practised in Great Britain, where the professors, rendered independent of the students, have too often been found reckless of their duty. Mr. Russel bimself is obliged to acknowledge the difference in the performance of their engagements between the professors acting under these two principles.
Besides, in Germany the Universities are not considered as the resort of children or of boys. From the qualifications that are required, no one repairs to them until he has attained the age of eighteen or twenty years, and may in some measure be intrusted to his own guidance. The students attend only such lectures as bear upon their future views in life, and from the poverty and industry of the greater portion of them, it will readily be believed that they carefully attend on all for which they pay. In the United States, the only establishments which resem! the German Universities, are the medical schools. In these the pupils have generally been distinguished for their assiduous attention, and prove that where the professors are men of character and talents, we may confidently trust to this system of instruction. In this country, we should have nothing to apprehend from the riots of students, for at a certain point the civil authority of the country would interfere. The faculty of our colleges have not, and will not have as in Germany, an exclusive jurisdiction. The carousals of the Burschen have been greatly exaggerated. That they occasionally indulge in revelry and song is undoubtedly true. When young men have been studying for fifteen hours a day, was the reply of one who had passed several years at Heidelburg, they may well be permitted to make merry sometimes for an hour or two—but excepting in the use of tobacco, they are not intemperate.
The example of Germany is worthy of our most attentive consideration. The United States are now in that stage of society when improvements can be incorporated most easily into their systems—when the fresh and pliant spirit can receive any impression from the plastic power of experience and wisdom. They are placed too in circumstances which have always been found favourable to energy and mental excellence. The mem