Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Drawing is a regular chair in the philosophical faculty, and stands between mineralogy and astronomy. The fencing-master and dancingmaster are not so highly honoured, but still they are public functionaries, and receive salaries from government. The confusion is increased by that peculiarity of the German universities which allows a professor to give lectures on any topic he pleases, however little it may be connected with the particular department to which he has been appointed. Every professor may interfere, if he chooses, with the provinces of his colleagues. The professor of natural history must lecture on natural history, but he may likewise teach Greek; the professor of Latin must teach Latin, but, if he chooses, he may lecture on mathematics. Thus it just becomes a practical question, who is held to be the more able instructor ; and if the mathematical prelections of a professor of Greek be reckoned better than those of the person regularly appointed to teach the science, the latter must be content to lose his scholars and his fees. It is the faculty not the science to which a man is appointed that bounds his flight. This is the theory of the thing, and on this are founded the frequent complaints that in the German universities, the principle of competition has been carried preposterously far. Fortunately, the most important sciences are of such an extent, that a man who makes himself able to teach any one of them well, can scarcely hope to teach any other tolerably; yet the interference of one teacher with another is by no means so unfrequent as we might imagine ; there are always certain “stars shooting wildly from their spheres It would not be easy to tell, for example, who is professor of Greek or Latin, or Oriental literature ; you will generally find two or three engaged in them all. A professor of divinity may be allowed to explain the Epistles of St. Paul, for his theological interpretations must be considered as something quite distinct from the labour of the philologist ; but in the philosophical faculty, where, in regard to languages, philology alone is the object, I found at Göttingen no fewer than four professors armed with Greek, two with Latin, and two with Oriental literature. One draws up the Gospel of John and the Acts of the Apostles ; a second opposes to him the first three Evangelists, the fourth being already enlisted by his adversary; the third takes them both in flank, with the works and days of Hesiod; while the fourth skirmishes round them in all directions, and cuts off various stragglers, by practical lucubrations in Greek syntax. Now, if people think that hey will learn Greek to better purpose from Professor Eichhorn's Acts of the Apostles, than from. Professor Tyschen's three Gospels, the latter must just dispense with his students and rix-dollars ;, when Greek meets Greek, then comes the tug of war.'

“ The former gentleman again leads on Oriental literature, under the banner of the Book of Job; the latter takes the field undismayed, and opposes to him the Prophecies of Isaiah. But Professor Eichhorn immediately unmasks a battery of Prelections in Arabian,' and Professor Tyschen, apparently exhausted of regular troops, throws forward a course of lectures on the “ Ars Diplomatica,' to cover his retreat.

“In Latin too, one professor starts the Satires of Persius against those of Horace named by another, and Tully's Offices against the Ars Poetica. The one endeavours to jostle the other by adding Greek ;

but they are both Yorkshire, and the other adds Greek too. The juridical faculty of Göttingen contains seven learned professors. Of these, no fewer than three were reading on Justinian's Institutes in the same session, two of them, moreover, using the same text-book. Two of them, likewise, lectured on the form of process in civil cases, both using the same text-book.” Russell, pp. 203-205.

What evil results from this competition? The incompetent professor is, in an emphatic manner, informed of his deficiency; the negligent is, in turn, neglected; and the students have the opportunity, upon almost all subjects, of collecting the knowledge, and listening to the theories and opinions of more than one man of talents and erudition.

It is, perhaps, too early to adopt the German system to its full extent in the United States. The number of eminent literary men is too small-competition, to any extent, cannot exist. It has been found necessary to secure talent by fixed and permanent rewards, and trust, in a great measure, to the character and integrity of each individual for the performance of his duty.

The labours of the German professors derive their highest value from the mode which has been introduced of teaching each branch of science. The exegetical method of instruction, while it requires far greater attainments in the teacher, is calculated to make the details of study much more interesting to the pupil, and to excite in him that ardent curiosity and love of research which leads him ultimately, when left to his own resources, to pursue, with almost 'undiminished zeal, his scholastic avocations :

“Exegeses, so far as I am acquainted with our literary institutions, and I have friends connected with many of them, has scarcely become a part of classical instruction. Here they learn the construction of the ancient languages much more minutely than with us ; so much so, that all the rules and exceptions of the syntax must be understood by the student. When he is familiar with these, he is supposed to have acquired such a knowledge of the language, as imperfectly to qualify him for commencing the study of its authors. Much more remains to be done before he can pursue an exegetical course to advantage. He must become thoroughly acquainted with the geography, the antiquities, the physical character of the country, whose literature he is perusing, before he enters upon this mode of studying. In pursuing it as an exeget, he must study, most intimately, the character of the people, as moral, intellectual, and physical beings; be able to trace every custom and every image to its source; become acquainted with their mythology and philosophy; ascertain whether their opinions on these subjects were introduced by their intercourse with surrounding nations, or bad their origin in their own peculiar character ; make himself intimately acquainted with their history, laws, state of society, social intercourse,

that so many

of these pro

mode of life, their peculiar rites and ceremonies; examine the circumstances under which the author wrote his work, and of the nation at the time it was written; in one word, discover every thing connected with them as moral, intellectual, political, religious, social, and physical beings ; so that he may, in the fullest manner, overcome all these difficulties which distance, time, and place, have thrown in the way of the reader. It is from the pursuit of this course, fessors appear, in their studies and lecture-rooms, to live inore in past ages than in the present century, and to be more familiar with the manners and customs of antiquity than with those of Germany. It is thus that they learn to feel the true spirit of David, of Isaiah, Æschylus, Euripides, Dante, or Calderon, with almost the same force as the contemporaries of those poets. Such a professor becomes, in fact, a lamp to guide the student in the darkness of antiquity." pp. 176, 177.

While so much care has been taken in each institution to secure the most eminent scholars as instructors, and every means employed to stimulate them to great and continued exertionsno expense, on the other hand, has been spared to encourage the pupils themselves to study, by placing, within their reach, all the sources of information which aspirants after knowledge can desire. Libraries, observatories, botanic gardens, museums anatomical, zootomical, zoological and mineralogical, collections of every nature appertaining to science, every thing, in short, that nature, art, or genius has produced, are heaped together in almost lavish profusion. But on their libraries the governments of Germany have bestowed their chief care and unremitted attention, well knowing that without this aid their Universities could acquire no reputation, their scholars no distinction—that profound learning could not exist-talents, however bright, must languish, and industry itself, patient, forbearing, unwearied industry be altogether unavailing. The following paragraph well exemplifies the enlightened liberality of monarchical Germany-we wish we bad room to insert some other observations of our author's, those in particular on the libraries of Göttingen and Berlin :

“ A traveller in Germany finds it difficult to proceed a day's journey in any direction north of the Mayne, withoạt discovering something to remind him, in the small cities through which he passes, that intellectual cultivation is an object of great importance to the respective governments. In entering Germany from Strasburg, and travelling a few miles north, he arrives at Carlsruhe, where a library of seventy thousand volumes unfolds its treasures. A few hours ride brings bim to Heidelberg, where he discovers another of fifty thousand. After proceeding about thirty miles, he enters Darmstadt, where he beholds a third, containing eighty-five thousand; at Mayence, another of ninety thousand;

and in the commercial city of Frankfort, still another of one hundred thousand volumes, evinces the noble spirit which has animated the enlightened merchants of that city. As he leaves the latter town for Göttingen, he stops at Giessen, not far from thirty miles, and in this small aniversity he is surprised to find a collection of orly twenty thousand volumes ; but he soon learns that at Marburg, twenty milcs farther, is another of fifty-five thousand; and at Cassel, sixty miles from Mar, burg, a third, of from ninety to one hundred thousand volumes, adorns the capital of Hesse. On arriving at Göttingen, the pext day in time to dine, he beholds with astonishment, three hundred thousand volumes, all collected within less than a century. Making this a central point, and proceeding north about forty miles, he enters Wolfenbuttel, a small town of less than seven thousand inhabitants, and learns with no little pleasure, that the government of Brunswick has enriched it with a library of two hundred thousand volumes. Advancing still north, to Hamburgh, he is delighted in visiting the commercial and city libraries, of twenty-five and eighty thousand volumes, to discover that this mercantile city has displayed the same love of literature as Frankfort, South-east of Göttingen, at the distance of eighty miles, he arrives at Weimar, where a library of one hundred and ten thousand, and at Jena, ten miles farther, another of thirty thousand volumes, proclaim the princely spirit of the Dukes of this little state. Leipzig is but a short ride from the last-mentioned city. Here, he observes, with equal pleasure, two libraries containing one hundred thousand; at Halle, in Prussia, only twenty-five miles distant, one of fifty thousand; and at Dresden, the capital of Saxony, a third, of two hundred and forty thousand volumes. Proceeding to Berlin, he enters the library of the University, containing one hundred and eighty thousand volumes. The Königsburg library of fifty thousand; the large collection at Breslau, as well as those of many of the other cities of Prussia, all display the patronage of the government, as well as the love of literature which characterizes the Prussians.

Proceeding from Strasburg through Southern Germany, a similar prospect presents itself to his view. At Freyburg, he finds a library of twenty thousand; at Tübingen, another; at Stuttgard, one of one hundred and sixteen thousand ; at Würzburg, a fourth of thirty thousand; at Erlangen, one of forty thousand ; at Landshut, one of one hundred thousand; and at Munich he discovers the largest in all Germany, and the third in the world, containing four hundred thousand volumes. On his arrival at Vienna, he finds that a similar spirit has influenced the Austrian government, if not of the present day, at least of a former time. There, in the four great libraries, the Imperial, the University, the Theresian, and the Medical Chirurgical, he discovers five hundred and pinety thousand volumes. Proceeding north, to complete the circuit of Germany, he is led to believe, on his arrival at Prague, that its library of one hundred thousand volumes will do something to dispel the ignorance which now covers Bohemia.” pp. 74–76.

Is it wonderful that with so many inducements, opportunities, and ultimately rewards for study, in a land where every scene

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. Inheriting 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 ignorance. 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.

[ocr errors]

* 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, having 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, physicians, 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 pe. culiar 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.”

« ZurückWeiter »