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BY JOHN JACOB ASTOR


PREFACE.

The protracted struggle between science and the classics appears
to be drawing to a close, with victory about to perch on the
banner of science, as a perusal of almost any university or
college catalogue shows. While a limited knowledge of both Greek
and Latin is important for the correct use of our own language,
the amount till recently required, in my judgment, has been
absurdly out of proportion to the intrinsic value of these
branches, or perhaps more correctly roots, of study. The
classics have been thoroughly and painfully threshed out, and it
seems impossible that anything new can be unearthed. We may
equal the performances of the past, but there is no opportunity
to surpass them or produce anything original. Even the
much-vaunted "mental training" argument is beginning to pall; for
would not anything equally difficult give as good developing
results, while by learning a live matter we kill two birds with
one stone? There can be no question that there are many forces
and influences in Nature whose existence we as yet little more
than suspect. How much more interesting it would be if, instead
of reiterating our past achievements, the magazines and
literature of the period should devote their consideration to
what we do NOT know! It is only through investigation and
research that inventions come; we may not find what we are in
search of, but may discover something of perhaps greater moment.
It is probable that the principal glories of the future will be
found in as yet but little trodden paths, and as Prof. Cortlandt
justly says at the close of his history, "Next to religion, we
have most to hope from science."
(ID 36708)

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