Electronic edition compiled by Beatrix Färber
Proof editing by Beatrix Färber, Helena Klimka
Funded by School of History, University College, Cork
1. First draft
Extent of text: 17415 words
Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: E880000-002
Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.
CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts
The electronic text represents the edited version.
Text has been checked and proof-read twice.
The electronic text represents the edited text.
Direct speech is rendered q. Citations are tagged cit. This element contains bibl and qt elements.
Soft hyphens are silently removed. When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page-break or line-break, the page-break and line-break are marked after the completion of the hyphenated word.
div0= the essay; div1= the section; div2= the sub-section.
There are no dates.
Some personal names and place-names are tagged. Authors and titles of written works are tagged. Quotes have been identified where references have not been supplied by the author.
Created: By Patrick Augustine Sheehan (18521913) (1886)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Helena Klimka (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (Text capture)
Mary Lombard (Text capture)
The question of higher or University Education, which is generally regarded as one of vital issue from its bearings upon the moral and intellectual life of a nation, is in the near future to be submitted to us again. And this fact alone, apart from the transcendent importance of the subject, is the only apology we offer for presenting this paper to the readers of the Record.
University Education in this modern world is supposed to have reached its most perfect form in Germany; and to Germany we must go to understand fully what appears to be the highest conception of University life, its spheres of thought limited only by the boundary lines of human knowledge, and its work, free and flexible, within rigid principles of religion on the one hand, and patriotism on the other. As a guide we shall take one of the most interesting books produced in our generation, written, strangely enough, by a French priest, Père Didon, who made the largest sacrifice a Frenchman can make, that of national vanity, for the purpose of teaching a wholesome lesson to his nation. The book appears to have been wrung from him by a kind of torture, to which, indeed, he voluntarily subjected himself; and his broad philosophical habit of generalisation is very often broken abruptly by an exclamation of pain, when he sees some striking instance of German superiority, or some special manifestations of the patriotic instinct, which is so universal in its extent, and so well directed in its energies. From the day when, midst a crowd of students, German and foreign, he signed his name, Gulielmus Didon, in the album of the University of Berlin, and touched the Rector's hand
p.497as a kind of honourable oath to be true to the traditions of the place, down to the time when his book came forth from the press, and was received with a scream of agony from his vain countrymen, Père Didon went through purgatorial pains, with one sentence of solace in his heart: You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. The two best books on Germany have been written by French littérateurs. Madame de Staël was the first in Europe to understand and manifest the riches and power of German literature. Père Didon, nearly half a century later, has written the latest and best book on the springs and sources of the political and literary pre-eminence of the same nation.1 But de Staël at least commenced to write in a tone of superiority as one, who, brought up in more than Attic or Augustan refinement, had suddenly discovered pearls amongst barbarians. Père Didon wrote in a more humble, and perhaps truthful spirit, when German power and intellect were acknowledged through the world, and his own country was writhing in the shame of a defeat, which resulted from forces generated in the German Universities, and directed through the channels of military organisation. To trace to its springs the power that had proved so disastrous to his own country,the power that came down like the rock cut from the mountain, which shivered the statue of brass with the feet of clay, to study the secrets of the energies, which transformed a race barbarous up to yesterday, into kings of intellect to-day, clothing themselves with the richest spoils of Greek and Oriental culture, and evolving and creating with superabundant plenteousness ideas and institutions, that will minister to the intellectual wants of generations yet unborn,this was a task of observation and analysis, repulsive and uncongenial enough, yet all the more fruitful, let us hope, for his own country and for the world.
There are twenty-two Universities in Germany,2 as uniform
p.498in teaching, and as easy in discipline, as the most rigid dogmatist on the one hand, or the broadest Epicurean on the other, could desire. They are scattered through the empire and its provinces as if by accident, sometimes buried in mighty cities, like Berlin, sometimes, like Göttingen, creating quiet towns by sleepy rivers. In the more modern Universities like Munich and Berlin, the patrons of science amongst the regal and ducal families have built palaces as the homes of the learned. In the more ancient, the University building is an old convent, as at Leipsic, or a dismantled fortress, forming the centre of a splendid architectural pile, as at Tübingen.
The teaching of the smallest, as well as of the largest University, embraces the four great faculties of Theology, Jurisprudence, Medicine, and Philosophy. The Theological faculty is sometimes exclusively Protestant, as at Berlin, Göttingen and Halle, which latter place one of the strongest assaults ever made on Christianity was led by the rationalist, Wolff; sometimes Catholic exclusively, as at Breslau, Münster and Würzburg; sometimes Catholic and Protestant, each of course, with its own professors, as at Tübingen, where there are 374 Protestant, and 179 Catholic students of Theology. And a student is at perfect liberty to pass from University to University, from one famous professor to another, according to the bent of his own inclinations, and the attractions of the great intellects, which direct thought in these schools of the highest science. There with the humming of the busy world around him, if his University happens to be located in a city; or if in a country town, in a silence and calm as deep as that which falls upon Chartreuse, when the evening antiphon has been sung, and the echoes of the last footsteps have died along the twilight corridors, the student, with his mind already stored with the facts of science and history, and the principles of art, is enabled to collate, combine, and generalise in that high faculty of Philosophy, which is the term of all education. And how easy and elastic is the discipline of those German Universities, and how charmingly Bohemian is the life the students lead! A slice of ham and a glass of beer for breakfastan adjournment to the hall where the students leap over desks and benches to their places with the
p.499inevitable note-book in their hands, the solitary black-board and piece of chalk for the professor, who enters with the students, places his cap with theirs, and commences his hour's lecture without comment or preface, and without the slightest attempt at style, telling the hardest facts, and explaining the highest problems in the plainest manner that the German tongue will allow, then an adjournment to the restaurant, where professor and students sit around the same table, and the thread of the lecture is taken up, and in a perfectly informal manner the difficulties of Arabic, or cuneiform inscriptions, or absolute idealism are explained; or a quiet stroll by the banks of the river, and confidential revelations of the arcana of Science and Philosophy, when the professor has gathered around him some of his favourite pupils, who may yet perhaps, he thinks, stand on the high table-lands of science with the masters at whose feet he himself sate and studied!
I suppose no two races were ever more dissimilar in habits, tastes, and temperament than the ancient Greeks and the modern Germans. The capricious, artistic, wayward sons of Athens were the exact antitheses of the dreamy, yet plodding and practical Germans. Yet the genius of both lands has struck out a University system, which in its scope and object, and even in the details of working are very much alike. The Athenian ephebi were the prototypes of the modern German students. Living either in private residences or together in colleges, they attended at will the lectures of the philosophers, who attracted admiring crowds at the Lyceum, or in the Academy, or in the Porch; and these halls of learning, as well as the hospitality of Athens, were thrown open not only to the children of the city but to dusky strangers from Egypt, the cradle of all philosophy; to students from the distant shores of the Ægean, and above all, to those of the great Semitic race, which even then, with its Sacred Books, held a foremost place in the world of culture, for its professors were inspired and its Philosophy divine.3 And in Athens, as in the Germany of to-day, the professorial
p.500system obtained. Zeno in his porch, Plato in his little garden near the sacred Eleusinian way, Aristotle in the Lyceum or in his residence by the banks of Ilyssus, seem to us the faroff images of Kant and Hegel and Fichte, or the more modern professors, as they move freely amongst the students, who look to them for guidance, and teach the highest synthesis of all Science by the banks of rivers as famed as Ilyssus, or under the shadows of mountains, peopled with the phantoms of poetic dreamers, and as sacred to German genius as Olympus or Parnassus to the Greeks. It is to men and not to books that these two great nations, separated by fifteen centuries of time, commit the intellectual training of their youth. Schools are founded bearing the names of great professors or the philosophical systems they established, and each student attaches himself at will to that school or that professor, to whom he feels himself particularly attracted. The professor dictates, the students listen and write, for the note-book is the armoury of the modern German student, as it was of the Athenian, who, however, more aristocratic and luxurious in disposition, took his slave to the lecture as amanuensis. No pedagogic system of question and answer! A thirst for knowledge, the student hangs on the lips of his professor, and it is only after the lecture is finished that he can approach his master, and lay his difficulties before him. Hence, too, there is no programme in our sense of the word. Twice a year the Senate of the University appoints the subjects to be treated, and the hours for lecture. In the Maxima Aula, or corridor of the University, the professors put up their notices, written and signed by themselves. The students must select the lectures they wish to attend. They give their names to the quaestor, and pay the master's fees. They call on him once more to get their books signed, and are then free to be studious or idle, careless or assiduous, as they please. The University course terminates with the examination for a Doctor's degree. The title is indispensable for those who are about to practise medicine, or who aspire to a professorship. Otherwise it is purely a title of honour; but such honour as to make men during the eight half-years of the University course study and toil in a manner which
p.501makes the students of other countries the merest amateurs by comparison. He who possesses that title in Germany stands enrolled in the only aristocracy which that democratic nation acknowledgesthe aristocracy of talent. Learned men form an estate by themselves. They represent the intelligence of the Empire, and as such are returned to Parliament. There are no less than 80 Doctors in the German Reichstag.
So far we have followed Père Didon. But here we must notice some points on which he differs from perhaps the two greatest specialists, if we may use the word, in this matter of University EducationCardinal Newman and Dr. Pusey. He differs from the former in his idea of the scope or object of University Education; he differs from the latter in his idea of the system of education that ought to be pursued. The difference with the former, however, is infinitesimal; with the latter, in his statement of principles and results, the difference is wide and deep. In the meaning of the word University as a term embracing all science, human and divine, in the absolute logical necessity of including theology amongst the sciences, and the grave detriment to society and religion which is done by excluding it from University teaching, and confining it to a special faculty in a high school, the French Dominican and the great Oratorian are one. The ideas of Cardinal Newman on this subject are so well known, through his admirable lectures delivered before the students of the Catholic University, Dublin, that we forbear quoting them here. But as Père Didon's book is not quite so well known, we would ask our readers to look up Discourses I., II., III., IV., in Newman's Idea of a University, and compare them with the following extracts which are rather long, but perhaps will be read with interest.
Nothing shows better the progress of the culture of the mind than a simple comparative glance at higher education amongst ancient and modern nations. They both consider it as universal; but what a difference in the universality of each! With the ancients, education may be likened to a lake,
p.502the banks of which being limited are easily explored; with us it is like a shoreless oceanthe farther you explore it, the vaster it appears. Genius is no longer a beacon on the shore; it is a star, shining above the reefs, in the immensity of the skies; it no longer shows the portthe port no longer exists. It only shows the way through the rolling and stormy waves. Knowledge is infinite; man, who pursues it, dies in the midst of the immensity. What he explored is nothing, being easily measured. What remains to be discovered is unlimited; in fathoming it, imagination and reason draw back confounded. Nevertheless, mankind goes on without rest. Some irresistible attraction carries it towards truth. It lives only in order to learn, and learns only to rule over this world, the prey given by God to its devouring and sublime curiosity. There are now among enlightened nations two kinds of public institutions for the diffusion, the culture, and the progress of higher Educationthe high schools and the Universities. High Schools present everywhere a double characterthey are special, that is, exclusively limited to certain branches of general knowledge; utilitarian, that is, having in view some more or less immediate practical object. Their tendency is to obtain increasing influence in modern civilisation. From year to year their number increases as the province of knowledge extends its limits, as men become more energetically intent upon learning, as the utility of science becomes more obvious through the increase of wealth, security and comfort. Special schools are everywhere founded for training men capable of directing and managing the forces at work in the field open to their activity. Universities differ from High Schools precisely in these two respects,instead of one branch of knowledge only, their aim is to reach all its branches, to constitute a synthesis thereof; instead of giving to studies a professional direction, they aspire to pure science, and in cultivating the latter in view of some practical application, they cultivate it for itself. Knowledge and ability: these two words explain the aim of human life. The one might be engraved on the frontispiece of the Alma Mater, the other be written over the doors of all High Schools. In Universities are trained great speculative minds; in High Schools
p.503great workers. In the former discoveries are made; in the latter they are usefully applied. The first is the realm of enlightenment; the second that of activity.
If Germany was wrong in not completing the old University organisation,4 other modern nations committed a much more serious faultthey reduced it.
In Russia, as in America, in France, as in Italy, almost everywhere the faculties of Theology have been eliminated from the encyclopedic organisation of knowledge. I am wrong; Theology has not been suppressed; it has been made, like the military art, a professional faculty; it has not been destroyed; it has been shut up and isolated in schoolsclosed to the life of the general public. Wherever the régime of the union of both powers existswherever the Church and the State, as subject or as mistress, remain united, in Austria, in Germany, in England,religious science continues to be an integral part of higher knowledge, and Theology occupies the first place in universal organisation. With nations, where the struggle has been more hardly fought, it tends to disappear. In Italy, Theology has been excluded from the twenty-one new Universities of the young kingdom, and has been obliged to seek refuge in large seminaries, or in half-ruined cloisters. In France, official and public opinion have but little regard for supernatural science, but men of talent there often reawaken the honour of faith by their eloquence and their culture. We still possess five faculties of Theology; but these faculties, frequented only by amateurs, have no influence on the training of the Clergy; they are but the ghost of a great name, the last threatened débris of an old régime that is fast falling to pieces. In Germany, however, the State does not pretend to teach its own theology, its own philosophy, its own science, its own politics. It authorises the teachings required by public opinion or by the wants of the population, with the welfare of which it is entrusted. Are the Catholics in a majority? they possess, as at Breslau,
p.504their own faculty of Theology. Are the Protestants in a majority? they, in turn, have their Protestant faculty. Are the numbers equal? then as at Tübingen, Protestants and Catholics alike have their own faculty. As regards scientific and philosophical liberty, it is seen at work in the faculty of Philosophy. All practical interests are thus taken into account. Doctrines may, at will, battle against one another. Are we to deplore this? By no means, if men respect themselves. The discussion of philosophical or religious truths has become, with us, a necessity; and Universities are the fit arenas for such debates. The best, the sure means, to withdraw religion, and religious questions from the discussion of the streets, is to give them the shelter of Universities. Must we therefore do away with seminaries in our own country? I do not think so; but, no doubt, valuable advantage would accrue from their being completed by regular faculties of Theology, wherein the future priests, sent there by their bishops, would come to study. Divine Science would once more find itself in vivifying contact with all human science. Like them, it must live; and to do this it must commingle with the progressive life of human things. Isolated, it remains unmoved in its rigid formulaeit crystallisescast into the ground, the formula becomes a living germ; it shoots, grows, transforms itself, assimilates.In passing through the ideas of Greek Philosophy, what did not these simple words, Son of God, theologically commented upon, produce; and what wealth did not Christian Philosophy heap up, solely by the contact with Oriental Metaphysics, and by the sole development of a cultivated reason, which knew how to draw logical conclusions from revealed principles? This necessity the Germans have duly recognised. In it is to be seen one of the most active causes of the superiority with respect to erudition and science of the German clergy over the clergy of other nations!
From the comparison thus instituted it will easily be seen how these two distinguished minds agree. The one point on which they differ is, that Père Didon insists that in Universities, science must be studied for itself, and its professional
p.505application left to the High Schools; that therefore its province is to train great speculative minds, and to give the largest field and the best possible appliances for the experiments and research which are usefully applied in the Higher Schools; that therefore Universities are places where knowledge must be pursued for its own sake, and the pursuit of it disinterested, whereas in the High Schools the pursuit of knowledge is decidedly utilitarian. Now, whilst agreeing with most of those principles, Cardinal Newman in his preface to the work already alluded to, is of opinion that philosophical inquiries belong rather to Academies, which sometimes are connected with Universities, sometimes subordinate to their rules, sometimes quite independent of them, such are the Royal Society which originated in Oxfordthe Ashmolean and Architectural Societiesthe British Associationthe Antiquarian Societythe Royal Academy, &c., and his Eminence quotes Cardinal Gerdil: Ce n'est pas qu'il y ait aucune veritable opposition entre l'esprit des Académies et celui des Universités; ce sont seulement des vues différentes. Les Universités sont établies pour enseigner5 les sciences aux élèves qui veulent s'y former; les Académies se proposent de nouvelles recherches a faire dans la carrière des Sciences. Les Universités d'Italie ont fourni des sujets qui ont fait honneur aux Académies; et celles-ci ont donné aux Universités des Professeurs, qui ont rempli les chaires avec la plus grande
And the greatest thinkers of the world, his Eminence says, have shunned the lecture-room and the professor's chair; and in silence and retirement originated the ideas which have shaped the courses of men's thoughts. As a proof, the names of Pythagoras, Thales, Plato, Aristotle, Friar Bacon and Newton are quoted; and Socrates and Lord Bacon admitted as exceptions.
There cannot be a doubt that the marvellous progress which science has made since these lectures were delivered (1852), more than justify Dr. Newman's conclusions. During these thirty years the men of light and leading, almost in every department of human science, have been specialists, who having once taken their degrees, and sometimes without having passed through an academical course, devoted themselves, without being hampered by professional duties, to the development of that particular art or science to which a special attraction was felt. We need only mention Edison in Mechanical Science; Tyndall and Huxley in Natural Philosophy and Biology; Ruskin and Carlyle in Literature; Pasteur and Koch in Anatomy and Physiology; Secchi in Astronomy. We must also admit that the Germans have not had much success in scientific generalisations; and have mastered and improved upon the theories and discoveries of other nations rather than originated any bold conception themselves. They cannot show scientists who for success in original research can be compared to Linnaeus, Lyell, Darwin, Lavoisier, Lamark and Carnot. But for earnest unflagging energy in pursuing studies, such as Philology, where a talent for discovery rather than for speculation is required, for the indefatigable industry with which the physical sciences are pursued, in the multitude of students and professors, who in every department of human and divine knowledge are working with passionate earnestness, in the interminable series of excellent books which are produced on every possible subject, and above all, in the pursuit of Philosophythe correlation of all arts and sciences towards each other, the Germans have no equals. Darwin, in his English laboratory, puts forth timidly an idea. It is taken up in Germany, developed, and made a prolific science, before he has assured himself even of
p.507its probability. Pasteur or Dumas gives to the world the latest secret Nature has told him. Whilst he is yet wondering at the revelation, scientific treatises on that discovery, with all its bearings on human knowledge or happiness, are in the hands of his pupils. Every day translations of German scientific works are issued in France. The inspiration of science falls in England or France, but the germs are borne to their Teutonic neighbours, and there they fructify. But there are two departmentsand these the highest, where the observations of Cardinals Newman and Gerdil will hardly apply; and to these particularly Père Didon refers. The great masters in Theology were its professors; and the same is true of its kindred sciencemetaphysics. And we speak with all possible hesitation and reserve, when we say that we always thought that the masterminds of antiquity, particularly Plato and Aristotle, whose influence on human thought is, and must be permanent, professed to admiring pupils, the systems of Philosophy which they elaborated with slow, and perhaps painful effort, in the silence of their chambers. That Socrates, the founder of all Greek Philosophy, spent very little time in retirement and solitude, and the larger portion of his waking hours in the portico, in the gymnasium, conversing with artists, men of science, rhetoricians, and practising what he called mental obstetrics, is an historical fact. But was not Aristotle a pupil of Plato's; and in turn did he not instruct pupils at the Lyceum, and form the mind of Alexander? Speaking of the four great Athenian schools, Professor Capes, of Oxford, says: One of the first needs in each case, was a sort of authorised version of their philosophic creed; but the written word was not enough; the writings of their founder, canonical as they might be, could not content them; they must have a living voice to expand and illustrate the truth, to stimulate by the contagious influence of strong conviction, and meet objections from all quarters.6 And although Epicurus was the least popular teacher in Athens, so that he was completely ignored by the heads of the Colleges when they recommended their pupils to attend the lectures of the other professors
p.508indiscriminately, yet that he taught a considerable number is evidenced by his will in which he says: I beg all who take their principles from me to do their best as a solemn trust to help Amynomachus and Timocrates (his executors) to maintain the school buildings in my garden, and their heirs after them, as also those who may be appointed to replace my own successors.
And perhaps it bears out the analogy which we instituted between Greece and Germany, when we find that the founders of the great German systemsthe masters of thought, whose principles succeeding generations have been solely occupied in developing, spent half their lives in thinking, and the other half in communicating their thoughts to their pupils and to each other. But there is another and very important reason why the German Universities might usurp the functions of Academies and Universities in other lands. It is that secondary education in Germany appears to be totally different from what we call Intermediate Education in these countriesand still more different from the corresponding grade of education in France. There are two kinds of High Schools in Germanythe practical schools (Realschulen) and the gymnasia (gymnasien); and the curriculum in these embraces professional and scientific studies and literature to an extent that is unheard of in these countries, except in Universities. For though there appears to be a distinction between practical schools and gymnasia in Germany to this extent, that in the former, scientific pursuits are more encouraged, and in the latter, literary, it is a distinction that gradually shades off, until the only remaining difference is that the pupils of the gymnasia, after completing their course generally move on to the University, and the pupils of the practical schools enter on that career in life for which they find themselves best adapted. But under the head of literary and scientific studies what usually is the extent of the knowledge that may be acquired? The ancient languages, Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The study of the two latter is compulsory; the study of Hebrew is optional; but lectures are given in that language, and every student intending to embrace Holy Orders makes it his special study. The
p.509leading modern languages are taught, French, English, Italian, Spanish, French being compulsory. Equally liberal is the course of studies in the exact sciences; yet it is understood and impressed upon the pupils that, no matter how high their proficiency may be in the dead or living languages, or what mastery they may have obtained over the sciences, their Intermediate course of studies is merely preparatoryto what? To the University course, which is a severe training in abstract reasoning, in the critical analysis of the studies through which they have already passed, and lastly in that synthesis of all the sciences which is called their philosophy. It is only, therefore, when the German student enters his University that he is free to criticise, analyse, compare the facts or principles he has already learned. Up to that time he has been acquiring in a submissive manner, whilst his mind is broadening and deepening, a knowledge of the languages, beneath whose intricacies are enclosed all the treasures left to the world of the ancient civilisations which grew and throve amongst the Semitic race, and by the Ægean Sea, and on the banks of Tibera knowledge of the sciences, which reveal the harmony under which all creation is moving in obedience to laws that are inexorable, and Titanic energies, which never break their bounds, but by attraction and repulsion, and sometimes with the swiftness of lightning, and sometimes with the slowness of centuries maintain that balance of power which is the beauty and order of the universea knowledge of the arts which contribute to man's comfort and enlightenment and which minister to his innate sense of the Beautiful, which is but a reflex of his faith in the Divine. At last he is allowed to use his knowledge. The studious or acquisitive powers are set aside, and the creative, or rather formative powers of the intellect are thrown forward. Henceforth, no fact in Science or History, no principle in Metaphysics or Theology stands alone. The affinity of languages which, however changed by time, can be traced to a common stock, the correlation of the sciences, by which it is seen that the highest laws of celestial mechanics in that noblest of all the sciences, Astronomy, are the same as those which rule the angles and
p.510lines of the black board in the primary schoolthe still more close and intimate union of the arts, which have all but one great principle underlying themstill more, the links by which languages, arts, and sciences, are bound together, and form, as it were, the highly ornate vestibules, through which the mind of man hushed and reverent, enters the vast, temple where in silence the Godhead is enshrinedhere is the grand object of study and veneration that lies before the German student, as with distinctive cap and scarf, and with his absolutorium from the Realschule, he signs his name, and selects his studies and professor. Assuredly with such a course before him, there is ample room for investigation, the only limit being the examination which comes at its end. And still more for the professors of whom especially the cardinals speak. For their work is no longer the dreary drudgery of teaching the meaning of accents and particles, and abstract signs, or mnemonic formulas, and even the more complex mechanism of enthymemes and soritesbut the more congenial and less laborious task of initiating vigorous and thirsty minds into the high philosophies of history and of art, and the close affinities of the sciences. Now, either the professor in the first year of his academical duties writes out his lectures for his class, and delivers those identical lectures year after year to the different bodies of pupils who pass beneath him, or what is far more likely, he strives year by year, to keep up with the progress of science, to master every new principle which has been established, every new fact which has been ascertained, and to develop as far as his own abilities and opportunities will allow that science and art, in which he is interested, by personal conjectures, speculations or experiments. In the former case there is plenty of leisure, if the will is there, for those studies, which are supposed to belong to Academies in these countries. In the latter he is stimulated to original research by the rivalry which exists between Universities and professors in Germany; for assuming, as we may, that all have reached the high levels of knowledge, and have been initiated into the sacred schools of philosophy, he alone will stand above his fellows, who wrests some secret from Nature, or throws fresh light on her mysterious work, or discovers
p.511some new connection between man's mind, and the marvels it is ever in pain to interpret, or finally makes the unerring revelations of the Creator less enigmatical to reverent minds by proving that the handwriting in the Sacred Books is the same as that which is abroad on the face of Nature, and that the spirit is brooding over the waters, where we behold as yet but darkness and chaos.
P. A. SHEEHAN.
(To be continued.)
In the last number of the Record we pointed out, in examination of Père Didon's work, the one solitary instance, in which his opinions on University training differ from those of Cardinal Newman, and the majority of English educational experts. In this paper it is our purpose to show some broader lines of divergence between our author and Cardinal Newman's contemporarythe well-known Professor of Hebrew in Oxford University. We single out his evidence from a pile of literature on this important subject, because he appears to be by far the ablest exponent of popular and generally-received ideas about the condition of German religious thought; and singularly enough, the Anglican professor writes of it in tones of despair, and the French Dominican sees in it nothing alarming or disquieting, but everything yielding bright hopes and promises for the future of religion in that country.
Within thirty years two distinct Commissions for the Universities both of England and Scotland have been held; and according to the Reports submitted by these Commissions to Parliament, enactments have been made for the better ordering and governing of these State institutions. The first of these Commissions for England was held about the year 1852; and a vast mass of evidence was accumulated from various and important sources. A Report was duly drawn up and presented to Government, containing a great deal of thought, and an immense variety of suggestions from
p.618those whom public and University opinion marked as leading men in their own departments, and best qualified by experience and intelligence to notice defects in University organisation, and suggest the remedies to be applied.
Amongst these experts Dr. Pusey was probably the one to whose opinions most deference was paid, partly owing to his personal eminence, but principally from his wide acquaintance with the history of Universities, both in his own country, and on the Continent of Europe. His evidence, however, brought him into a sharp controversy with Professor Vaughan, the main issue beingthe advisability of substituting, as far as possible, tutorial or catechetical teaching for the professorial, which partly obtained at Oxford, and was almost universal in Scotland and Germany. By the professorial system Dr. Pusey meant, that in which the professor is himself in fact the living book, and imparts knowledge, original and instructive, but still wholly from without, to the mind of his pupil. By the tutorial system is meant, that by which the mind of the young man is brought into direct contact with the mind of his instructor, intellectually by the catechetical form of imparting knowledge, wherein the mind of the young man having been previously employed upon some solid textbook has its thoughts corrected, expanded, developed, enlarged by one of maturer mind and thought, who also brings to bear on the subject knowledge and reflection which the pupil cannot be supposed to have. In other words, the professorial is the system of lectures orally delivered, whilst the students take notes, and the tutorial is the system of question and answer. The whole thesis of Dr. Pusey, as formulated by Professor Vaughan, and admitted with some very important, modifications, by his opponent, is summed up in five propositions,as follows:
With one of these only have we to deal, because in the attempt to maintain it, Dr. Pusey largely relies on his knowledge and experience of the German Universities, and his evidence is almost in direct opposition to that of Père Didon. It is the fourth proposition, that Theological Professors are the causes of heresy and scepticism. In support of this, Dr. Pusey offers many examples to show that in Germany the Professors of Divinity have taught and produced Rationalistic theology. There cannot be a doubt that Dr. Pusey was very well qualified to write upon such a subject. He had given to the study of it a great part of the best years of his life. In 1827, nearly half a century before the Commission was held which elicited the evidence to which we have referred, he had published a work entitled, An Enquiry into the causes of German Rationalism, a fair liberal inquisition into the state of religion in Germany, made by a pious and patient mind, which went beneath the surface into the depths of those mystic philosophies from which he thought Rationalism had taken its rise, and which was able to distinguish what was good and hopeful from what was evil and pernicious in those transcendental theories which had taken such hold of the German mind. And whatever other value attaches to his evidence, it has at least the merit of consistency. His ideas in 1827 do not materially differ from those of 1853, and they are the ideas that have gone abroad and filled the public mind for half a century, until religiously minded people, when speaking of Germany, are always tempted to apply the Scriptural question: Can any good come out of Nazareth?
Dr. Pusey takes it as proved then that Rationalism has taken a firm hold of the mind of Germany; and although in 1827 he concluded his inquiry with a hope, that the nation would return to a belief in Revelation, and its central doctrine of the Incarnation, he is forced to admit in 1854
p.620that his hopes have not been realised. It is true, he says, that I have been disappointed. I watched with many a heart ache over the struggles of the faith in Germany, and came to see how hard a thing it is for the intellectual mind of a country, which has once broken away from the faith, to be again won to it in its integrity. But if his hopes are disappointed, his opinions are unchanged as to the causes which have led up to such a sad condition of things. They are three: The traditional orthodoxy (1) which, transferred as to its objects from the ancient Church to the doctrines of Luther, maintained a rigid conservatism, without history, philology, or biblical criticism to sustain it. This gradually led to a system of Pietism, (2) which furnished a well-prepared soil for the seeds of unbelief, under whatever immediate circumstances it might be planted. The sowers came, not, let it be remembered, from Germany, but from England. Rationalism was not the product of German soil. Nay, at the very time that the German Universities were seats of orthodoxy, so far as the great mysteries of the Christian faith were concerned, and the German households were pietistic and puritanical to a degree never reached in England, this latter country was the home of a school of Deistic philosophers, (3) whose influence on the cultured minds of Germany was pernicious in the extreme. It was an age of metaphysical theories. From the highest summits of Catholic thought down to the dismalest abysses of materialism, every shade of religious or psychological thought was represented. But by far the most potent, dissolving factor was that English Deism, of which Blount, Chubb, Collins, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, Hobbes, Morgan, Tindal, Toland, were, if not the originators,8 at least, the abettors, which was afterwards so successfully developed by the Encyclopedists of France, and cloaked in light sarcasm, or panoplied in weighty argument, was introduced into the Universities of Germany, and fostered there into that natural religion which ushered in the bald atheism of our century. Yet Deism, though it took its rise in England, never got a firm foothold there. Why?
Nowhere was scepticism so audacious. Compared with the timidity of the Scottish and German schools, the English was as positive and aggressive as the French. The disciples of Locke, who, like those of Descartes, pushed his theories to extremes from which he would have shrunk, either flatly denied that anything was immortal or immaterial, thus shadowing forth the ideas with which we are now so familiar, or preached a false spiritualism, which directed in safer and narrower channels, became the basis of the moral theories of the Scottish school. But Deism never took root in England, Dr. Pusey says, because of the independence of the English intellect, particularly in the Universities, where schools of philosophy formed on the teachings of individuals never existed. He might, perhaps, have added, that there never has been much taste for such subjects in Englandthat the practical English mind is absolutely opposed to metaphysical speculations of any kindthat not only has there never been a school of philosophy in England, but even very few thinkers who could be ranked as great philosophers; and with regard to the Universities, their faith, such as it is, has been preserved not by its absolute firmness, established by deep, protracted and enlightened study, but by the very indifference to metaphysical speculations, which if sometimes sublime in reach, and sweep, and magnitude, are not always safe in their subtleties. Deism, then, took no root in England, because the vast masses of the population neither knew nor cared for such things; and the lordlings of the two Universities thought more of the conflicts between town and gown, than of the disputes between the Nominalists and the Realists. And if Deism, taking its rise in England, had its reign in Germany, we must not forget that religious and metaphysical ideas were always subjects of supreme interest for the German people, and that there were twenty Universities in Germany, thronged with students, poor, like those of Scotland, and cultivating science tenui avena, but restless, speculative, inquiring, piling Pelion upon Ossa to enter the homes of the immortals. But we are anticipating. Deism, sprung from Orthodoxism and Pietism, and introduced from England, had its reign in Germany, because of the professorial system in the Universities.
Now, long before the times of Rationalism, the professorial system in Germany had exercised a power, enslaving the intellect. We are accustomed to think of the Germans as powerful, original thinkers. I myself respect and love the Germans. Yet intellectual writers of their own, Lessing and Herder, upbraided them with their imitativeness. It often showed itself in a strange submission to lawlessness of mind. We are of the same stock. Yet the English mind has been independent; the German has been imitative. We have had no schools; among the Germans from the Reformation downwards, there have been successive schools. These schools existed in Philosophy, as well as Theology. Englishmen have been proud of Locke, but Locke left no school. Wolf, Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, exercised by turns an almost undisputed sway. Everything for a time became Wolfian, Kantian, Hegelian. Theology, as well as Philosophy, became Wolfian. Sermons or catechisms bore the stamp of Wolfian Philosophy. I spoke, not of the value of that philosophy, but of its transient autocracy. Why had it so extensive and absolute a sway, when yet, after a while, it was to resign its sceptre to another monarch over the German intellect, as absolute and as transient? Systems of philosophy were like fashions of dress; first, absolute, then obsolete. Like Jonah's gourd, the son of a night, perished in a night.
Is it not the irony of history after all we have been listening to during all these years of Papal autocracy centring in itself not only supreme authority that must be obeyed, but supreme intelligence, which demands the fullest submission of the intellect, that an English Protestant should be found to complain that in Germany, the home of Protestantism, there has been such slavish subjection to individualssuch indiscriminate adhesion to fashions of thought that existed, but to pass away? But if these bold Scriptural criticisms and consequent weakening of faith belonged only to the Universities, and never spread amongst the people, whose pastors clung tenaciously to ancient orthodoxies, it cannot be true that Rationalism obtained a firm foothold in Germany. And if it be true that the Universities showed such slavish submission to the professors
p.623whose theories were dominant in the schools, a simple remedy might have been found, the appointment of orthodox professors, whose righteous interpretations of Scripture, and such dogmas as Protestantism maintains would be as blindly followed as the teachings of those, who tried bolder flights in those speculations of which the Protestant faith does not wholly disapprove. In truth, Protestantism was put upon its trial in Germany and found wanting; and the professors were not entirely to blame. The substitution of Luther for the Vicar of Christ, of the Bible for a living authority, of successive philosophers and their tenets for those who went before them, reduced Christian dogma to such a minimum in Germany, that the educated classes were forced to be sceptical, and it is to the honour of that country that it has not completely drifted away from supernatural faith of every kind, when we consider how relentlessly the German mind pursues a course of reasoning, and does not shrink from its conclusions, at least speculatively, when it finds them. Rigid Lutheran orthodoxy, which commenced with the subversion of the cardinal principles of Christianity, was itself put on trial; and the Scriptures, to which the Protestant mind has always attached a kind of talismanic effect upon the soul, were brought under the severe tests of Science, without an external authority to safeguard them by wholesome interpretations of their meanings and mysteries. What can be thought of a religion that, as Dr. Pusey says, fell to pieces before criticism? Wolf made certain speculations about Homer. This introduced two wrong principlesthe disregard of traditional evidence, and the theory that a minute verbal criticism could suffice to dissect works, which had descended to us as wholes, into various compound parts. The criticism on Homer introduced criticism on the Old Testament, and Protestantism collapsed.
Whilst, however, strongly maintaining the position he had assumed, Dr. Pusey makes a singular admission, which reflects a kind of qualified praise on the professors and philosophers of Germany, and at least attributes to them the singular merit of having preserved to their country some broad beliefs and general reverence for religion at a time
p.624when the other countries of Europe were rapidly passing from timid scepticism into aggressive infidelity. Professor Vaughan says of my former work: The transcendental Professors, by demolishing the low popular philosophy to which England had given birth in earnest error, and which France soon cultivated in a spirit of satire and corrupt mockery, were then thought to have at least shown, on its promulgation, the necessity of faith, and to have assisted directly to restore the sway of those fundamental truths of conscience, which the mere understanding could never demonstrate. I think the same now. Of Kant's philosophy I have lately said, it was on its positive side a gain, in that it awoke the conscience and exposed the shallowness of a system, more hopelessly irreligious and self-satisfied. But, on its negative side, it strengthened Rationalism, and gave it its definite form. The Kantian autonomía of reason, says Twisten, left room for the Deity, but not for a Revelation, in the sense of the Christian believer.9
Looking back, now, through the perspective of history, at these systems of philosophical thought, which, considering their ephemeral effect on contemporary religious beliefs, and the rapid pace at which modern ideas are travelling, seem to belong to a far remote period, we think there are very few leaders of Christian thought, in our own age, who will not acquit Germany of the sad reproach of having been mother and mistress of all modern infidelity. We have Dr. Pusey's admission that that country was saved from blank atheism by the action of its philosophers. We admit that it lapsed into temporary Rationalism through the action of its
p.625Scriptural professors. There has been a singular confusion of thought about the teachings and doctrinal consequences of the Transcendental philosophers on the one hand, and the Biblical expositors on the other, in Germany. It has been generally supposed that their teachings about Christianity were identical, or that their systems so dovetailed into each other, that the rejection of Revelation, which was openly professed by Biblical scholars, was the inevitable outcome of the metaphysical theories of the Transcendentalists. But their systems of thought, the objects they proposed to themselves, and the deductions at which they arrived, are as distinct as the philosophical teachings of Mill or Hamilton, and the Scriptural exegesis that is taught in a Protestant seminary. The work of the former was positive; of the latter, consciously or unconsciously, negative, and, if you will, destructive. The philosophers aimed at constructing a philosophy of Christianity. Utterly dissatisfied with Christian doctrine, as it was taught in their churches, and unwilling to believe that the crude and uncouth form, in which its sublimest doctrines were submitted to their congregations by the pastors and theologians of the Lutheran Church, was the only presentation that could be made of a religion which, in the sublimity of its origin, and the perfect adaptation of its moral code to the wants of men, was manifestly divine; and not being able to realise the idea of a living Church, with a voice that interpreted unerringly the Revelation of God to the world, they attempted to create a system of philosophy, founded on pure reason, which eventually would embrace the fundamental doctrines of Christianity.
A similar attempt was made by Coleridge in England. In a work, on which he intended his fame should rest, but which he did not live to perfect, he tried to prove that Christianity was not only not opposed to reason, but was its highest embodiment from a doctrinal and ethical point of view. His work, like that of the German philosophers, has come to naughthas failed as utterly as that of the Gnostics in the early days of Christianity. One after another, the greatest German thinkers developed their ideas as to the meaning of the universe, and the destiny of the human soul, only to find that
p.626they were moving in a circle in the end. But let it be said that each commenced with a perfect faith in the existence of God and of the soul, and the absolute necessity of religion. And if, by the exercise of pure reason, they did not reach these high truths which Eternal Wisdom alone could reveal, at least it must be said that the spirit in which they approached the consideration of such sacred problems, was in no wise a spirit of hostility to Christianity, and that the conclusions at which they arrived may have fallen far short of our perfect Revelation, but did not absolutely reject or deny it. We might safely put into their mouths the plaints of the ancient philosophers in the first circle of the Inferno:
The commentators, on the other hand, whilst coquetting with philosophy, and professing themselves disciples of one or other master or system, directed all their attention to the critical examination of the Sacred Books. Philology was the science they brought to the study of Revelation, and, finally, into conflict with it, just as geology, in later times, and later still, biology, have been considered its antagonists. Nothing narrows the human mind so much as exclusive devotion to one science. Germany became hypercritical; and, as usual, German savans, compressing their ideas within the limits of one faculty, grew cramped and illiberal in the pursuit of knowledge, That sublime and devouring curiosity, man's first passionthe weakness on which the fatal temptation felleven still leads men beyond their depth. And so, by the morbid development of the critical faculty, the Germans fell into this fatal, but, we are sure, transient error. They somehow lost faith in the Bible as a supernatural product; and it had become to them more a great and transcendent classic, than a living Revelation.
And there is one fact of pregnant meaning which Dr. Pusey has not noticed, and which has had a most important bearing on the attitude of reverence which Germany has always held towards religion. In Biblical criticisms, in controversies on religious dogmas, in all the heat and passion of polemical strife, there has ever been, with a few latter-day notorious exceptions, a total absence of that contempt and savage satire which the French and English philosophers and scientists have levelled against religion. Of the exalted tone which the German philosophers assumed, in dealing with religious mysteries, we have already spoken. It must be also admitted that the German expositors set about the work of studying and interpreting the Sacred Books, not with an a priori belief in their inherent inconsistencies, but with a fully-formed and acknowledged faith that their critical and conscientious searchings into the meaning of Holy Writ would result in decided advantages to the cause of religion and truth. It was not with them, as with the French and English scepticsa crusade against religion and against God. That contemptuous tone, with which modern materialists put completely out of the domain of logic and common sense metaphysical questions of any kind, as only fit for fetish worshippers, is conspicuously absent in philosophical or exegetical works produced by Germans. These works were, for the most part, written as a kind of unconscious protest against the Protestant doctrine that the Bible was the sole rule of faith; and the analyses of texts and their meanings are what logicians would expect from too acute and too learned reasoning, unassisted by authoritative interpretation, and losing the spirit of the Divine Word in too critical an examination of the letter. But the handling of the Inspired Text was never irreverent. When Lessing published the famous Wolfenbüttel Fragments, which had passed into his hands from the daughter of Reimarus, their author, a storm of indignation against him arose throughout Germany.
What has the Christian to do with the hypotheses, explanations, and evidences of the theologian? To him the Christianity he feels to be so true, and wherein he feels himself so happy, is there once for
p.628all. If the palsied individual experiences the beneficent shock of the electric spark, what matters to him whether Nollet or Franklin, or neither, be right? In short, the letter is not the spirit, and the Bible is not religion. Consequently, charges against the letter and the Bible, do not also imply charges against the spirit and religion.
Lessing, Gegensätze des Herausgebers (1777)
A very inconsequential conclusion, and, from a Catholic standpoint, a heretical and condemnable opinion, inasmuch as it altogether denies the dogmatic factor in religion; but who shall say it is a breach of Protestant orthodoxy? Such opinions are held to-day, without ban of Church or clamour of clergy, amongst the most highly-favoured Protestant divines, who do not always express their opinions with the reverence of Lessing. And Bahrdt, one of the first of the representatives of Popular Rationalism in Germany, whilst unhappily rejecting the whole doctrine of man's redemption, can yet write of Our Divine Saviour:
O, Thou great Godlike Soul! no mortal can name Thy name without bending the knee; and in reverence and admiration, feeling Thy unapproachable greatness! Where is the people amongst whom a man of this stamp has ever been born? How I envy you, ye descendants of Israel! Alas! that you do not feel the pride which we, who call ourselves Christians, feel, on account of One so incomparable being sprung from your race! That soul is most depraved that knows Jesus, and does not love Him!
Bahrdt, Moralische Religion. , vol.i., p. 71.
And what a contrast between that progenies viperarum, the French Encyclopedists, and the German Transcendental philosophers! Voltaire's sneering admission, Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer, and the more savage candour of Ecrasez l'infâme; Rousseau, advocating a return to primitive barbarism; Diderot's profane apologue to the Deity, Of Thee, Supreme Being, I demand nothing; the sensual d'Alembert, excusing the ambiguity of the Encyclopedic, Time will make people distinguish what we have in our minds from what we have said; and, on the other hand, Leibnitz, straining his mighty knowledge of mathematics, and declaring that, behind the rules of geometry and physics, he discerned the very nature and attributes of God, and that the source of all philosophy lay for him, not in his knowledge of things, but in the Divine attributes; Hegel,
p.629developing his mysterious philosophy of the spirit, until he finds that the apogee of all moral sentiment is Christianity or absolute religion; Kant, called by his admirers the Christian philosopher of his century, drawing a most reverent picture of Our Blessed Saviour, and declaring, even in his earliest works, that the Bible is, in a certain and very high sense, a Revelation; Richter, in his divine fancies, as of the soul that went wandering through the spheres, and that terrible Dream, which, it is said, did more to preserve men's faith in God in Germany, than the arguments of its countless theologiansall these Transcendentalists have been, in the end, decided, if unconscious, allies of Christian faith in Germany, whose example and influence were all the more powerful, because they had lost themselves in the mazes of free thought, and reached such light and truth as were vouchsafed them, not by the quick flight of faith, but by the laborious and circuitous route of patient investigation, and the steady advance from principle to principle, guided by the slender thread of inductive reasoning, and buoyed by the consciousness that, somehow or other, the God of Truth would not fail them in the end. They set out on their toilsome journey, declining the guidance of religion, only to find her majestic figure before them at the end. We might reverse the saying of Cicero about the Roman augurs, and say of them: Verbis (inscii) tollunt, re ponunt Deos.
On what other theory can we explain the fact that to-day Positivist and Materialistic opinions have no followers in Germany? That, although philosophy holds as high a place in public esteem, and is considered quite as essential a branch of education, as it was in the days of Kant or Hegel, infidelity is making no headway amongst any class in Germany? That reverence for the illustrious dead, and even philosophic faith in the stupendous systems that were founded, is not considered at all incompatible with the fullest adhesion to what Protestants call the fundamental truths of Christianity? That, with the exception of four or five,10 not a single German professor has signed the broad schedules of scientific unbelief? And that the most trusted leaders of German scientific
p.630thought, have neither abandoned metaphysical and religious science for the more concrete studies of the museum and laboratory, nor believed that the mighty questions of the soul and its destinies can be resolved into problems which the chemist can solve, nor even sought to reconcile the established teachings of religion with the conjectural hypotheses of physical science; but, with decided predilections for the former, have steadily aimed to keep the latter in its place as the younger childbabbling, hesitating, wilful, dreamy, and erratic, if not controlled by the calm wisdom, and discipline, and experience of her sister, who, with the halo of sixty centuries around her, has yet the freshness of youth, because of her promise of immortality. And if for a time Rationalism did take a hold of the German mind, its reign was transient and temporary. The very school which originated it, that of Tübingen, was the very first to destroy it.
But all this time we are forgetting Père Didon, whose testimony, on these very disputed questions, is eminently interesting.
He first then declares that although the professorial system still obtains in Germany its influence in determining religious opinion by creating schools of thought has passed away.
The era of masters is over. None can now be said to have opened a new school; none, as in the days of Kant, of Wolf, of Hegel, of Fichte, or of Schelling, exercise sway over a whole generation.
The professorial system, therefore, for full fifty years (Schelling died in 1831) has not had that dominant and pernicious influence which has been ascribed to it.
But is there still philosophical thought in Germany? Yes:
And it is still dominated, and its bearings directed by three great geniusesSpinoza, Leibnitz, and Kant. Pantheistic tendencies which seek results at all costs, and delight in erecting a system, belong to Spinoza. The prevalence of vast erudition, and a conciliating eclecticism is inspired by Leibnitz As for psychological, and critical problems, they originated with Kant, whose mighty works ponderously weigh upon the intellects which they divide into two contrary schoolsthe idealists, who, scorning experience, consider, like Hegel, their superb theories as the absolute measure of things the realists, who, subordinating the subjective to the objective,
p.631borrow from reality the rule of their speculations. I fancy that to-day the University youth, which to-morrow will form the ruling opinion of this country, inclines to realism, to a certain unconscious pantheism, from which German minds scarcely ever liberate themselves; and above all to a certain eclecticism, based upon serious erudition.
One unacquainted with the strange paradoxes which are to be met at every step in the history of this powerful nation would now rush confidently to the conclusion that with such determined proclivities to realism, the whole bent of modern German thought would be directed in our age to the positivism of Comte, or the blank materialism of Büchner and Haeckel. Not at all.
These misguided intellects (Büchner, Vogt, Moleschott, Fischer) have succeeded less in leading German youth than in providing learned French materialists11 with weapons at a time when it was fashionable with us to believe in the infallibility of German science. In high University chairs, materialist or positive doctrines are left unrepresented. The rash speculations of thought are not nowadays viewed with high favour: philosophical tradition is, however, faithfully preserved.
But at least this philosophical tradition must be unfavourable to religious science? No.
Religious science holds a distinguished place in most Universities, not only because it occupies the leading place in programmes, but also, and above all, because under the influence of esteemed, and often famous teachers, it rallies a youth numerous and ardent. There are 4,000 theological students in Germany, scattered among the twenty-two Universities of the Empire, who in the mass of students form the most serious and diligent group.
This statement, thus made by the most recent authority on the subject, is the direct negative, both as to causes and effects, of the ideas generally entertained on this subject.
P. A. SHEEHAN.
(To be continued.)
We closed the last paper on this subject in the Record12 by the statement, that the German people had maintained the main principles of Christian tradition and belief against all adverse influences. It must have occurred to anyone, particularly to a French priest, who had seen very serious and terrible consequences in his own land arising from much simpler and less potent causes, that there must be something in the genius of this nation that thus preserved faith and a passion for theological science amongst them. Our author, from a careful study of the German people, soon discovered a curious trait in their character, which we have not seen attributed to any other race. He considers the Germans what he calls a bicephalic nationthinking, dreaming,
p.686speculating with one mind, but always acting with another. It is the combination of pure reason and practical reason on which Kant built up his mighty philosophy; and the principles which he applied to religion, as deduced from the operations of pure reason on the one hand, and practical reason on the other, are the same principles with which educated German thinkers theorize and speculate, and then abandon in real life those creations of fancy, for the more positive wisdom of practical good sense. For just as Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason, taught nothing of absolute reality, but a purely ideal speculative world, and in his later treatises laid down laws subordinating man's mind and conscience to God and the Divine and natural laws, so the ordinary German loves wander in the broad fields of metaphysical thought, creating, conjecturing, and poetising; but in every-day life he is as shrewd and practical a thinker as the ancient Greek or the modern American. This dualism of the mind enters into every department of thought and life. It is the prevailing national idiosyncrasy in education, religion, and political science; and the contrast between ancient and well-preserved tradition, and the fullest acknowledgment and acceptance of new and cverchanging ideas and systems is very striking. Up here in the cloudland is some mediaeval city, gray and battle method, the ivy wreathed around its fortifications long since disused, and stretching its tendrils across the mouths of cannon long since antiquated and useless; and strolling through its streets in undress cap and jacket are dreamy, metaphysical Teutons, pondering weighty mysteries of time and space, and in the contemplation of the infinitude around and above them, seemingly oblivious of the petty concerns that agitate the multitude beneath them in the white villages and towns that dot the landscape from the Weser to the Rhine. Below in the valley is a row of buildings, granite-hewn, square-cut, uniform, and stern, and the quadrangles are bristling with black guns, the latest invention of German military science; and through the barrack squares march grim bands of warriors, as gray and stiff as the granite of the walls, and many of them a few months ago were, and many a few months hence will be, gay, rollicking students, talking
p.687high science over pipe and glass away up in the cloudland. It is a type of the educationmilitary and academical through which the Fatherland insists all its children shall pass, and of the liberty and discipline which prevail side by side in all State institutions. Absolute freedom in speculation obedience as absolute as that of a Carthusian in practical life; toleration of the wildest vagaries in academical hallsunceasing vigilance over act or word that might be inimical to the Fatherland; freedom as glorious as that of Rousseau's barbarian in the University, discipline as unbending as that of Sparta's soldiers in the barracksuch is life in Germany to the young. Hence there is no restriction on books, or programmes, or studies. Every field of thought is opened up to the student, and he is encouraged to explore it. Every invention of modern science is put before him to stimulate his ambition to improve it, and make it obsolete. Whatever the genius of other lands has effected he is at perfect liberty to study, and turn to practical uses. But never is his cold sluggish blood stirred into enthusiasm by victories of science achieved by other nations; nor will his home and college prejudices yield for a moment to admiration of talents which, with sublime pride and exclusiveness, he believes to have been specially created for the benefit of his race. If French scientific class-books are carefully noted and studied in Germany no one is very much the wiser. The French with the interest and curiosity peculiar to their race, study the habits of the English and Germans, and candidly acknowledge their virtues and excellences whilst politely laughing at their eccentricities. But no German is ever troubled about his neighbours, except to draw maps of their fortresses and sketches of their ironclads. No de Stäel or Didon will ever come from the German land. Wrapt in sublime security, which in any other nation would be sublime conceit, they believe that the world was made for the Fatherland. Never a whisper of admiration passes German lips for Milton, or Dante, or Racinefor Locke, or Descartes, or Mill. Goethe and Schiller are the greatest poets that have yet appeared on this planet; and Kant and Spinoza are the intellectual giants of the
p.688modern world, as Plato and Aristotle were in times of old. The same national peculiarity is observable in the religions beliefs of the people. Protesting strongly and repeatedly against authoritative teaching, they are the slaves of synods and consistories. In theory, the free-thinkers of the world, they are really as dogmatic and exclusive as Puritans. Forever soaring in the high empyrean of abstract thought, they never lose touch of the solid earth. And, on the other hand, however logical in thought and accurate in scholarship they may be, they cannot descend into the abysses of that realism where less dreamy and imaginative races fall and abide. The strong tendency to idealism, which is such a peculiar characteristic of the people, saves them from lapsing into abject error. It was a noticeable feature in their philosophers; and even the masses of the people are so imbued with it, that it seems a kind of impossibility that they should ever adopt that crude, hard materialism which comes so easy to the genius of other nations. The Frenchman concentrates all thought and feeling within one facultythe reason, and the senses as its ministers; and whatever refuses to come within its domain is instantly rejected. Strangely enthusiastic and impulsive, he has not a particle of imagination. His poetry is little more than rhymed prosehis fiction is never successful until it becomes realistic and morbid. Two and two make four; therefore, he argues, there is no God. Here is the surgeon's scalpelfind the soul if it exists. But the faculties of the German mind are so well balanced, that there is a perpetual protest between the two extremes of thoughtexcessive fancy and excessive logicidealism, and materialism, and the mind is kept in that happy mean where each faculty has its full sweep of exercise without the peril of losing itself in the abysses above, or the darker abysses of vulgar materialism beneath. Hence, the free thought of Germany is ridiculed by the more robust atheism of other countries as yielding and puerile. Quand un Allemand, says E. Renan, se vante d'être impie, il ne faut jamais le croire sur parole. L'Allemand n'est pas capable d'être irr[acute ]ligieux. La religion, c'est à dire, l'aspiration du monde id[acute ]al, est le fond même da sa nature. Quand il
p.689veut être ath[acute ]e, il l'est d[acute ]votement, et avec une sorte d'onction.13 This taste for metaphysical studies is the safety valve of free-thought in Germany. No nation can long remain either rationalistic or infidel so long as this fancy for abstract thought is a national characteristic. And whatever value may be set by this too prosaic age on the works of positivists, the lasting verdict of the world will be given in favour of the authors to whom great ideas were more important than the greatest facts or deeds accomplished in the history of our little race. Nay, even those who spurned metaphysics as a delusion have been forced either by the want of material machinery, or by the free working of the intellect, into realms of thought, to which they wished to remain for ever strangers. Goethe, a sensualist and realist in a moral and literary sense, could say of Jacobi, that God afflicted him with metaphysics as with a thorn in the flesh. Yet, what is the second part of Faust and the greater part of the first, but an admission that without supernatural elements even that strange jumble of thought could not, with all the efforts of his own unquestionable genius, cohere in legitimate dramatic unity? Whatever philosophic system, therefore, prevails in the halls of German Universities, the religious creed of the students is as definite and dogmatic as Protestantism can permit. It could not be otherwise if we consider the programmes that are issued by the Minister of Public Instruction in Germany, and which are obligatory on teachers and pupils alike. Here is the programme for High Schools, issued March 17th, 1882:
Religious instruction shall comprise1st, The History of the Bible, but chiefly of the New Testament. 2nd, The Catechism, with the Scriptural passages and traditions which explain it. 3rd, The Ecclesiastical Year-Book, and complete knowledge of the principal hymns. 4th, Knowledge of the main facts contained in the Scriptures, chiefly in the New Testament (reading of various passages selected from the originaltext.) 5th, Fundamental points of dogma and morality. 6th, Knowledge of the most important dates of the history
p.690of the Church, of eminent personages, and of the lives of the principal saints.
And in the diploma which each student in the Gymnasia receives, when he has passed his final examination, are found the words:
We hereby testify that the pupil of the Catholicor Evangelic faithis efficient in religious knowledge.
But it is in the Universities that chief prominence is given to religious science, and that it occupies the foremost place in the activity of trained and matured intellects.
The activity of theological science cannot be denied. Every professor treats at least two different subjects. And as the smallest faculty of theology does not possess fewer than six professors, there are thus at least twelve lectures. At Leipzig, where the faculty of theology numbered fourteen professors, twenty-five subjects were being treated in the same half-year. These are the titles of the various subjects studied during the Summer vacation of 1882:
Add to this the practical labours accomplished in the various associations of theological students, and some idea may be formed of the prodigious intellectual movement of which in Germany every faculty of theology is a centre. The encyclopedia of religious science is thus approached from on all sides; and the students who are excited by an ardent wish for study, live under the cross fire of the thousand rays of the same science.
Lastly, in political science in Germany, similar effects of the dualism of the national character are observable. The most strenuous liberal and democrat in France or America, whose life is one passionate dream of a universal brotherhood of nations, in the parliament of manthe federation of the world, is not so enthusiastic as the German student, who is prepared to clasp hands in cosmopolitan friendship with every other nationality. So say their poetstheir philosophers. Yet we know that they love their mountains and rivers and forests with a partiality that seems narrow and illiberal, that the glory of the Fatherland is the everpresent dream of every German, no matter what his religion may be, and that Germany is a huge barrack where every adult must pass through the ordeal of a severe and rigid discipline to form part eventually of a colossal and irresistible force that may crush the French on the one hand, and the Slav on the other. This is all the more wonderful, because there is no nation in the world composed of such heterogeneous elements in origin, race and religion.
Though for the most part descended from the Gothic tribes that swept Europe at the dismemberment of the Roman Empire, the Germans occupy such a central position that a large Latin element from the south has entered into the composition of their nationhood, and the Slavs from the east and the Tartars from the north have added their distinctive characteristics to the race. It is cut up also into principalities and kingdoms as different in size and configuration as if the poles were between them. And though the Catholic and Lutheran religions predominate, there is a large variety of small sects differing from one another on some point of religion which is only made important by controversy. Yet, notwithstanding these elements of disruption, the fact remains that the German Empire is to-day consolidated into a whole more concrete and unified than empires whose people kneel at the same altar, and whose flag floats over one race claiming the same origin and birthright. Still more strange is it that politics in the sense of differences of opinion in reference to the common welfare,
p.692is an unknown science in Germany. The great central idea of German unity pervades all classes; and to that idea everything must be sacrificed. And the German Universities are undoubtedly the places where that dominant idea is engendered and developed. In closely studying German youth I soon came to the conclusion that the love of the mother-country, the consciousness of its doctrines, and the ambition of its future glories have been chiefly developed in its Universities. This national feeling is promoted by the patriotic clubs of the Universities and, let us add, by the spirit of the professors themselves. This lecture, said Fichte during the Napoleonic invasion, will be deferred until the issue of the campaign. We shall resume it when our country has recovered its liberty orwe shall have fallen dead for the defence of her freedom.
So far, then, as we can see in two great departments of human thought, academical education and political science, the German Universities exercise the most wholesome influences; and even in religious science the spirit of these valuable institutions is a main support of Christianity. What conclusions, therefore, shall we draw, or how shall we apply the practical lessons of this book of Père Didon's to our own country? We may, perhaps, state that the peculiarities of the Teutonic and Celtic races are so utterly dissimilar that it would be impossible to create or maintain a University system in Ireland after the model which we have studied. We have neither the traditions that consecrate to the minds of German youth the ancient seats of learning in their land, nor great names to whose memory is attached that national reverence which is so freely given to those who have marked some intellectual epoch in the history of their country, nor governmental patronage such as that bestowed on Berlin, nor even the universal homage to learning, which is the sweetest guerdon of the protracted vigil, and the laborious task of unearthing dead centuries for their treasures. Neither have we as yet that peculiar virtue of pursuing knowledge for its own sake, which is the soul and inspiration of a University. It is in this matter that the book we have studied is specially valuable. With a firm hand our
p.693Dominican draws a decidedly unfavourable contrast between his own country and Germany, points out distinctly the faults of the French educational system, and suggests a total reconstruction of that system on German principles, adapted of course to French ideas and temperament. And there is such an affinity between the French and Irish nations that we may safely apply all his strictures and suggestions to ourselves. To understand them we must take his standpoint, for it is not too much to say that his own nation and Germany are half a century ahead of us in this matter of education, and with them the whole system is not feebly tentative as with us, but has been tried by the fullest tests of time and experience.
The great central idea of the book is that Universities are the brains of a nation, that whatever excellence has to be obtained must be obtained through them, and that any kind of prosperity, intellectual or other, that does not proceed from them, is hollow and unstable, and must eventually collapse. A favourite idea in the Church is, that men of prayer are more powerful agents for good than men of action; that the cowled Carthusian whose earthly vision is bounded by the white wall of his cell on the one hand, and the white wall of his garden on the other, has more influence on the Church's destinies than the girded apostle who goes forth in fines orbis terrae. Now, it is the creed of our author that it is by great ideas a nation is created and strengthened, and that Universities are the homes of such ideas. He thinks, therefore, the increase in the number and efficiency of Universities a healthy proof of the vitality and energy of a people; the decline of Universities, and the increase of High Schools for special subjects a certain sign of a nation's degeneracy. Yet, he says, this is the universal tendency of the world at the present time: The fashion to-day is professional and high schools. All nations, Germany excepted, seem to obey that fashion. Everywhere in England, in America, in Italy, in France, in Russia, high schools are founded and multiplied. What is the result? If we observe this intellectual impulse of contemporary society, we shall soon come to the conclusion that it will eventually and fatally result in the breaking up
p.694of the vast unity of general knowledge; and that in fostering too energetically the practical application of science, it will gradually dry up the inspiration of genius, to which theoretical science alone can give wings and flight. What he condemns, therefore, is the undue and forced exaltation of high schools at the expense of Universities. In Germany the former are never suffered to lose their preparatory character; in France they are permitted to encroach too much on the domain of Universities, with the result that University teaching in France is only the shadow of a great name, and the high schools are hotbeds of irreligion, positivism, and eighteen year old philosophers. These latter are formed by the undue development of the critical faculty. The natural powers of the mind require the following sequence in the course of education:gradual strengthening of the memory by filling but not over-burthening it with facts or principlesgradual development of the intellect by the collation of such facts and the application of such principles, as we see in the study of mathematicsfinally, the training in just criticism, when the judgment is matured, and the memory and intellect combine to help it in forming correct ideas and practical principles of action. Now, in France, this last branch of education is usurped by the Lyc[acute ]es or public schools, where the young pedant is instructed to sit in judgment on the universe, like Browning's diner-out:
- Who wants a doctrine for a chopping-block
To try the edge of his faculty upon,
Prove how much common-sense he'll hack and hew,
In the critical minute 'twixt the soup and fish.14
With that prematurely developed critical faculty he roams through the realms of thought, and nothing is too high or sacred to escape him. Setting aside reverence of every kind as a kind of exploded superstition, he flings the full searching light of this wonderful faculty into every corner and cranny of the universe of science, flashing it from the inaccessible heights of heaven to the lowest depths of animal or vegetable physiology. Whatever escapes this white light, or is unrevealed to it, is to him non-existent; and the budding philosopher through the medium of his language, which if useless
p.695as a vehicle of high thought or poetry, is splendidly adapted for the more servile purposes of satire, annihilates to his own fancy creeds as old as the world, and hopes that are stronger than death. So it was with ancient Greece. The philosophers were followed by rhetoricians and sophists, who inducted the youth committed to their charge into all the secrets of science, yet made eloquence of language and rhetorical display their highest ambition in the end. But their appearance marked the decline of Grecian learning. From that time we date the transference to the Latin races of the wand of intellectual superiority. And it is not altogether beyond our own experience to find youth of our own age, who can sing the litany of the kings and queens of England, and mark the dates of battles with the mechanical uniformity of a chronometer, deem themselves qualified to sit in high places, and stare and wonder at teachings which are too simple or too sublime for forced and weakened intellects.
For the same reason, our second conclusion shall be, that the crown of all teaching in a Catholic University should be the perfect grounding of the students in a system of mental philosophy, strictly in accordance with the teachings of the Church, but neither too restricted in its scope, nor too illiberal in its applications. Theology is justly the queen of sciences to the inmates of a Catholic Ecclesiastical College. Its place in a University would be justly filled by Philosophy. The whole course of modern literature varied and complex as it is, is for-ever touching the fringe of this latter science. The finest poem of modern times, the In Memoriam of Tennyson, is purely philosophical from beginning to end; and if the perfect hope of the Christian's belief is clearly professed in its splendid prologue, the doubts and difficulties that beset it, are indicated in minor keys throughout the poem and are silenced, but do not entirely vanish, in the Higher Pantheism. And, through the brilliant warp and woof of George Eliot's works, is there not discernible the dark thread of her negative and melancholy philosophy? So with science. Whether looking for a universe of worlds through the telescope, or through a microscope for a universe of atoms, the mind of man is for ever tormented by metaphysical
p.696questionings. There is no use in trying to silence them. Positivism may lay down peremptorily its dogmas, and warn its disciples to waste no more time in futile searches after that which can never be known. But the ceaseless curiosity of the mind cannot be stilled, till the stars are quenched and the mechanism of the universe loses its obedience to the Divine Mind that controls it. To bring vigorous and active intellects under a mental discipline so perfect, that the chafing and irritation of such doubts and questionings are soothed by a science, to which the highest intellects have been consecrated, and which is as perfect and flawless in its workings as the most scrupulous mechanic could desire, this ought to be the ultimate aim of a University. And for the same reason, the study of philosophy ought to be deferred to the end of the University course, when the mind is trained to understand its intricacies, and pass freely from problem to problem, which would appear to it in a less matured condition barren and empty formulae. Eighteen-year-old classical scholars are intelligible; eighteen-year-old mathematicians are not forced and unnatural creations; but eighteen-year-old philosophers imply a deordination in the process of education, which is irrational and absurd. We hasten from this point to say that it is evident that in a University the science should be taught in the vernacular, and that its history, as well as its doctrines, should be made familiar.15 For, after all, it is the history of human thought. Physical science was practically unknown up to our own time. What occupied the minds of men for twenty centuries? The mighty issues of the human soul, its capabilities, its destiny. In porches and gardens under Grecian skies, in halls of rhetoric in the days of Ambrose and Augustine, in academies and Universities in mediaeval times, and in our own days in that great arena of modern thoughtthe press, the same vital questions are discussed. The advocates of freethought in every shape, and in every age, sit under the bust of Plato; and the statue of Aristotle is enshrined in Christian
p.697schools near that of the great apostle of intellect, Aquinas. Yet, we do not speak of the former with horror, nay, many of our best Christian scholars have thought it in no wise heterodox to quote him. And surely, Kantism does not mean unutterable things: nor is Spinoza quite a synonyme for Satan. Thirdly, the professorial system should be maintained in the most conservative manner in an Irish University, partly, because no other provision can be made by us for great specialists; principally, because, under any other system, learning shall never become honourable amongst us. However efficient a tutorial system may be in preparing youth for professional examinations, it can never be successful in the higher object of making them thoroughly educated men. The instrument may answer its purpose well, but it never becomes more than an instrument, to be cast aside when used. It is clear that reverence for knowledge in the persons of its possessors can never have for its cause or object those who use it as a means to an end less noble than itself. These only command respect for learning who are consecrated to its service, and who win worship for their goddess by their exclusive devotion to her service. Finally, with all our indebtedness to Père Didon, we borrow from him one last idea: No national life is possible for a people, if, at the same time, it be not taken up with the pursuit of some grand ideal. What ideal should be put before a University of Irish students who hold their country's destinies in their hands? We pass by political aphorisms too menacing, too flattering, or too enthusiastic, and say that the only true ideal for Ireland is to be once more, what it was of old, a nation of saintly scholars. To the English, it was said, was given the empire of the sea; to the French, the empire of the land; to the Germans, the empire of the air.16 What a sublime destiny it would be, if with these latter, we could share the dominion over human thought, if utilising to the utmost, the varied and inexhaustible treasures of talent that lie hidden around us, we could explore unknown fields of thought, and garner intellectual wealth till the nations of the world cried out with envy; if we could open up our sanctuaries of science to
p.698strangers, and send apostles of intellect, as we send to-day apostles of faith, to nations that hail the rising, or sadden under the setting sun! And all this intellectual glory, whilst the deposit of faith remains intact, the past and eternal glory of Ireland's fidelity to religion undimmed, whilst her science is not the litter of dead philosophies dug from the past as the members of a mutilated statue, but the perfection of the fair and living figure that woke to music and immortality when the sunlight of faith had dawned upon it. Let us hope that this is not the dream of a sleeper before the dawn, but a fair forecast of what may and shall be.