Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

duct of an individual. If we knew no Jesuit president but the gentleman who occupies that position at Fordham, and did not reason according to “the humanities,” we might be led to think that all Jesuit presidents are either a little churlish or somewhat shy of criticism. But the different conduct of Father Loyzance would be sufficient by itself to refute such a theory, and then we could only infer from the course of the Fordham president that he is a little ckurlish or a little timid of criticism. We prefer to believe that the latter rather than the former is the weakness to which we are to attribute the loss of not getting the Fordham catalogue, and we think it will be admitted in due time that we have some grounds for that opinion.

About a year and a half ago we wished to see the interior of Fordham College, but were informed by a friend, who, by the way, is a good Catholic, that the fathers belonging to that institution had no love for reviews or reviewers. “But,” said he, “ if you go to them from some of the daily or weekly papers, and tell them you come to give them a good puff, you will be received with open arms, and be treated to Greek and Latin to your heart's content, if not exactly to the kind

you want.” From this we inferred that our only course was to proceed to the college incognito. Accordingly we drove over one fine morning, and tried to look as good-natured and barmless as possible. After waiting for some time, we had the honor of being introduced to the president, who received us kindly enough. The usual compliments being passed, we said that we were persons who took some interest in education, and should like to be allowed the privilege of being present at some of the recitations, if agreeable to him. We shall never forget the scrutinizing though inoffensive look which this remark elicited, first at ourselves, and then at certain hieroglyphics on our modest vehicle, which unfortunately, we thought at the time, happened to be opposite the parlor window. The father hesitated for several minutes, as if asking himself what was best to be done under the circumstances. At last he said that only his junior classes were in session, but that we might call some other time. It is but fair to say, that there was no appearance of cunning about the father; any one could see in his honest face what the difficulty was. “Now,” thought he, “this is one of those know-nothings who'hate us Catholics ; he just wants to spread some injurious report against us, and it is best to get rid of him as quietly as we can.”

[ocr errors]

Strongly suspecting that he had some such cogitations as these, although he used no uncivil or discourteous word, we remarked : "If it is contrary to your rules, Father, to admit strangers at this time, we do not wish you to make any exception in our case; if otherwise, we will not take any liberty with your students, but be perfectly satisfied with such questions as the professors may think proper to propose.” This seemed to remove all objection. The president cordially informed us that our wish should be complied with ; and in little more than half an hour after we witnessed some of the efforts in translating Greek and Latin of the two principal classes.

Neither, indeed, impressed us very highly ; from what we had heard we had not expected much ; yet we confess we felt not a little surprised that an institution which made such loud pretensions could show so little to sustain those pretentions. The fact that we have never made any public statement of this, before, may, we think, be taken as at least presuniptive evidence that we had no ill will towards Fordham College or its faculty ; and we have just as little to-day as we had a year and a half, or five years ago. Nor have we related this little episode by way of making out a case of any kind against that institution; all we mean to show by it is that, let the cause be what it may, the reverend president is a little timid of criticism. In our opinion, it would be much better for him to try to defy criticism. This seems to be the course which Father Loyzance has been pursuing at St. Xavier's College during the past year; and we have reason to believe that, although his predecessors left him an herculean task to perform, his efforts thus far have been attended with considerable success.

Since first-class institutions of all denominations regularly send us their catalogues to make such comments on them as we think proper, we need not feel much annoyed if we are occasionally slighted by a fourth-rate one. In September, 1864, we criticised the catalogues of Harvard, Yale, and Columbia, (New York,) but each has been forwarded to us this year as promptly and politely as ever. The venerable and learned chancellor of New York University does us the honor of sending us his catalogue as regularly as he does to any other person whatever ; and several other chancellors do the

That of Fordham is, indeed, not the only college that has withheld its catalogue ; more than half a dozen others of different denominations have pursued the same

• same.

.

course, but not one of them is above the fourth grade, so that it is not worth while to mention them.

But we have yet to speak of one other Catholic college, which, although young in years, deserves to be ranked with the best we have mentioned, for the thoroughness of its educational system, and for the excellent results which it has already accomplished ; to this we need hardly add that we allude to Manhattan College, so delightfully situated at Manhattanville, on the right bank of the Hudson, and within view of the Central Park. We have devoted more space to Catholio colleges than to the colleges of Protestant denominations, because the former receive less attention from our daily and weekly journals than the latter, and are consequently less known. At least fifty of our readers have read copious accounts of the commencements of New York University, Columbia College, Harvard College, Yale College, &c., for every one who has read any account of the Catholic colleges we have mentioned. And let it be remembered that in seeking to remedy this we are merely acting in accordance with our general plan, namely, to tell our readers what they do not know or have but a vague notion of, rather than what they are already familiar with. But, in the present instance, we have the additional inducement to enter into particulars, that a new institution which is doing the work of an old one deserves to be encouraged. Of all the catalogues which we receive, not one is more tastefully gotten up than that of Manhattan College ; it also possesses the distinction of containing in almost every number suggestions on educar tion, which we take pleasure in reproducing for the benefit: of others. Those who are not aware of its character will be: able to form an idea of its high standard of education from the following extract from its catalogue for 1864–5:

“There are, at least, two public examinations during the year.. To these all who take an interest in education are cordially invited. Nor need they be mere spectators; the faculty are not only willing, but desirous, that they should take an active part in the examinations, especially in those of the higher classes. Besides requiring the student to translate any passage in the part of the text-book which he has read;, the examiner may propose his questions in Latin; and the graduating, claas may be addressed in Greek.

In the higher mathematics, a similar discretion is allowed;: in other words, the examiner may propose any questions that occur to him in the science upon which the class under examination are engaged.

" These suggestions are made in view of the well-known fact that the cramming' system is far too general at the present day; that students are taught to answer particular questions apparently with equal intelligence and facility; while they are utterly confounded if asked questions precisely similar without being prepared' in the details. Hence it is that the faculty of Manhattan College invite the public not to an exhibition, but to an examination.

“The genuineness of the oral discussions and addresses may be tested in a similar manner. Any gentleman who attends the examination may propose a subject for discussion ; although the most experienced parliamentary debaters cannot discuss a subject with any degree of thoroughness without having previously reflected on it; nevertheless it will be sufficiently evident from such a test whether the students have really learned to reason and to make ready use of their resources to convince or refute, as the case may be. But a still more reliable test is that of requiring the student to deliver an extemporaneous address, however brief, on any subject; and it is one which may be applied by any intelligent person at this institution.

"In order to estimate the difference between an exhibition and an examination, it is necessary to bear in mind what is the object of sending boys or young men to college. Is not that object twofold-to acquire knowledge, and to be capable of making use of that knowledge? No matter how much we may know, it is valuable only in proportion as we can apply it, or communicate it to others; and in order to enable us to do this our faculties must be trained. The learning of which we cannot avail ourselves is, indeed, gold, but it is like that hidden in the mine. In short, in order to educate a young man, he must be taught to reason, to reflect, to express his ideas with clearness and facility both orally and in writing; if he is only taught to say and do certain things at certain times, so that he may seem what he is not, his education is only that of the parrot, and he is taught to be deceptive, if not absolutely dishonest, at the same time.”

No one who understands the subject will deny that these observations are just; but we value them chiefly for their representative character; we appreciate them because we know that they do not refer to mere theories, but to work actually accomplished—because we have had opportunities of seeing that the president does not merely tell us those things, but that he carries them into practical effect. Although present ourselves at one of its recent examinations, we prefer giving an extract from the report of a journal whose views on the subject we would have accepted with confidence even if we had not been in a position to test their accuracy “The classes were examined,” says the critic alluded to, "both in the classic languages and in mathematics; and we assure our readers that we give but feeble expression to our estimate of the results when we say that at no other college in this country, of the many we have visited, have the students acquitted themselves so well, in each department. Some would translate a passage in Latin with commendable accuracy, but err in almost every sentence in Greek; others would be quite critical in Greek, but incapable of rendering a line in Juvenal or Horace. Again, some would evince a respectable acquaintance with both Latin and Greek, but

scarcely any acquaintance with the mathematics; while those who understood the latter even tolerably could not pretend to understand either Latin or Greek. But, incredible as it may seem to those who have not witnessed the examination, the students at Manhattan College can turn from elaborate and accurate demonstrations in geometry, trigonometry, or even the differential calculus, to reading the Odyssey of Homer or the Satires of Juvenal with a facility and confidence which many other students could not display in turning from one book in the vernacular to another. This intelligent familiarity elicited the admiration of all on Saturday last. Still more agreeably surprised were the best judges at the fluency with which some twelve or fifteen students conversed together in Latin on various subjects, and promptly answered any who addressed them in that language.

“This is one of the peculiar features of Manhattan College, considered as an American institution. In other American colleges, indeed, some Latin phrases are occasionally spoken, certain subjects are sometimes discussed also in Latin, but only such as are committed to memory for the occasion. But we believe Manhattan College is the only in stitution in this country whose students are ready to converse in Latin on any subject which may be proposed to them. But if the student should never have occasion to speak the language after he left college, there would still remain the unanswerable argument in favor of using it orally, that by. no other means can the learner acquire a thorough knowledge of any Latin author worth reading.

“ The facility with which the students of this institution can speak as well as translate and write the language of Cicero, and demonstrate propositions in the most difficult of the sciences is not, however, the only proof they furnish us that they are attaining the best results of a collegiate education. They also read several English essays on the occasion referred to, any of which would do no discredit to many a professional writer. The majority exhibited not a little thought and research, and afforded evidence that they are the productions of minds which are not only well trained, but, considering their youth, well stored with ideas."

None 'capable of judging, who attended the commencement examinations the first days.of July last, will be disposed to deny any of the statements made in this extract; and among the learned men whom we observed near the platform were professors of the University of New York, Columbia

« VorigeDoorgaan »