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“One day in the midst of a most eloquent passage he observed a man in the back pew with a look of intellectual curiosity in his countenance. He was evidently impressed by the volume of sound, and was trying to find out what it was all about. The minister said that instantly the same thought came to his own mind, and for the life of him he could n't tell what it was about. Unfortunately the man became a regular attendant and always looked interested.
“The minister said that that one parishioner who insists on thinking while he is in church has caused him more mental disquietude than all the others put together. Sometimes a fine illustration is spoiled by seeing the look of inquiry as to what it illustrates. The man in the back
has changed sermon-making from a pleasure to hard work.
“Now what do you think of an education which makes life harder for good people? When a man is doing his best, it's taking an unfair advantage of him to raise the standard. It makes him unhappy."
There was such a look of genuine commiseration that for the first time it occurred to me that my visitor was human, and I had been remiss in my attentions.
“Do take a chair,” I said, vaguely.
“No, thanks! I'll sit on the curb of your inkwell.”
“ I'm afraid you may fall in.” “No matter if I do. Ink is my native element.”
Then he chatted so pleasantly about the kind of education which he found unobjectionable that I was quite charmed with him. He believed sincerely in what are called “accomplishments,” and was willing to have them carried to almost any
“ I like,” he said, “ that good old term 'polite learning.' Now the first rule of politeness is not to contradict. So long as Learning does n't contradict, Our People are willing to treat it liberally and give it things. We don't make any bargain, but of course we expect it to back us up, or at least not to make any trouble. We don't care how long it takes a learned man to come to his conclusions, we are willing to humor him if he wants to use the scientific method, but his conclusions must be sound.”
“But what if the facts point the other way?”
“He should be more careful in selecting his facts,” said the Merry Devil.
“Would n't it be better,” I suggested, “if the learned man did n't come to any conclusion at all ?”
“ Yes,” said the Merry Devil, “and that 's the way
I work it whenever I can. You see there are two kinds of science, pure science and applied science. Now pure science would be
perfectly harmless if we could keep people from finding it out, and applying it. I tell the professors that they should be more careful and use obscure language wherever possible. Otherwise their pupils will draw conclusions. Sciences like Ethics and Sociology and History and Political Economy ought to be kept pure. I hate to see a man interested in affairs teaching such subjects.”
" I suppose,” I said, “ that you are afraid that the students would come to see that these are affairs that they have to deal with.”
" It's a real danger,” said the Merry Devil. “Now I feel a tender affection for Truth. I don't like to see it exposed.” “ It seems," I remarked, “that you do not
“ agree with the pragmatic theory that Truth is
something that makes a difference, and that a thing which does n't make a difference is n't true.”
“I don't quarrel about words, and if a thing does n't make any difference I don't care whether it's true or not. I tell Our People that they need n't worry about Education so long as I look after it. I know communities that are full of educated men, and they don't make any difference. Now what's the harm in it? I have personally conducted parties through all the branches of learning, and they were not in the least affected by it. What I most enjoy is to experiment with a successful self-made man. He is an easy mark and will pay liberally for an educational gold brick. He has made his own way in the world by force of ability and hard work. But when it comes to his son he is the most credulous creature alive. He is ready to believe that something can be had for nothing. When he sends his son to college the last thing he thinks of is that the lad will have to work for all that he gets. He has an idea that a miracle of some kind is about to be performed in the enchanted castle of the Liberal Arts. The boy will have all sorts of things done for him. He will get Mental Disci
pline, which is a fine thing to have. Certain studies are rich in discipline. If he does n't elect these disciplinary studies he will doubtless get all the Mental Discipline he needs by living in the same town with a number of hard-working professors. Every college which has been a long time on the same spot has Ideals. The youth is supposed to get these Ideals, though he is unconscious of them at the time. In after years they will be explained to him at the class reunions and he will be glad that he absorbed them. Towards the end of his college course he will show signs of superiority to his parents, and there will be symptoms of world-weariness. He will be inclined to think that nothing is quite worth while. That tired feeling is diagnosed as Culture.' The undergraduate has become acquainted with the best that has been said and known in the world, and sees that it does n't amount to much after all.
“ The fellows who have to work their way have a hard time, but the sons of fortune may be educated with surprisingly little effort. They have so many advantages. I notice the same principle in some of the states where the educational test is pleasantly mitigated by what is called the