Like Goethe, again, Pen was a person of casual education. It is quite open to contention that persons thus educated do a good deal of the work of the world; that, indeed, men and women of great parts and original mind are often persons who have managed to evade the regular routine of the schools. Like Pen, they have got out of working through that Greek play, line by line and word by word, on which ‘the Doctor’ set such store, and have, like him, read ten times as much in the time. Allowing the genius to be a law unto himself, we must be on the watch lest the ordinarily clever boy slip the yoke; indeed, as we have seen in Goethe’s case, the genius might well have been seen in Goethe’s case, the genius might well have been the better for the common grind. Pen, anyway, would probably not have run that disastrous course at Oxbridge had he acquired the habit of working under rule and towards an end.
          It is well to consider this matter at a time when we are casting about rather wildly to find out what education is, and what it is to effect. There is certain knowledge, no doubt, which it is shameful not to possess, and, wanting which, the mind is as limp, feeble, and incapable as an ill-nourished body. There is also a time for sowing the seed of this knowledge, an intellectual as well as a natural springtime; and it would be interesting to examine the question, how far it is possible to prosecute any branch of knowledge, the sowing and germination of which has not taken place in early youth. It follows that the first three lustres belong to what we may call the synthetic stage of education, during which his reading should be wide and varied enough to allow the young scholar
to get into living touch with earth-knowledge, history, literature, and much besides. These things are necessary for his intellectual life, and are especially necessary to give him material for the second stage of his education, the analytic, which, indeed, continues with us to the end. It is in this second stage that the value of the classical and mathematical grind comes in. It produces a certain sanity of judgment, and therefore a certain capacity for affairs, and ability for the examination of questions, which are rather the distinguishing marks of the public schoolman,—not merely the university man, that is another matter, but the man who has ground through that Greek play which both Pen and the young Goethe contrived to get out of. Whatever be the faults of the public school, it is not a manufactory of ‘cranks’; and the danger of a transition period like the present is that it may produce a crop of these persons of unbalanced judgment and undisciplined will.

                    “ ‘O friend,’ said he, ‘hold up your mind; strength is but strength of will;
                    Reverence each other’s good in fight, and shame at things done ill.’”

[1] Opera Moralia (trs. from Plutarch’s  Ausgewählte moralische Abhandlungen, translated by Dr Otto Güthling).

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