THE forces which worked in Greece and Rome wrought steadily and only to ruin as their end.
Those same forces are steadily at work to-day among the nations, and to no other end than they wrought before.
The forces that wrought in Greece and Rome are the chief forces at work in the great nations to-day: they are deliberately chosen to be the chief and all-guiding forces for to-day.
All through Europe, and all over the United States, to-day, the leading and all controlling forces in education are Greek and Roman. And by compulsory-education laws it is sought to oblige all to surrender to these forces. But as originally these forces only ruined Greece and Rome, to compel people to surrender to these forces is only to compel them to the way of ruin.
Nor is it only the States schools that are so led; but private, denominational, and independent schools, academies, colleges, and universities, are all conducted after the same lead; so that Greek and Roman conceptions and ideals practically dominate the whole educational world or Europe and America to-day. Greek and Roman literature, ethics, philosophy, art, and mythology, are the supreme models, they are indeed the goal of all  intellectual effort of the students, throughout the whole educational system of our time.
But what did all this, in its veriest perfect, do for Greece and Rome?—It wrought only their ruin. It is not enough to say that all of it could not keep them back from ruin: it all only helped forward their ruin. What less can it do for people to-day? When through all the formative years of children and youth, they are caused to dwell intellectually in Greece and Rome among the Greeks and Romans of the “classic ages,” what can they be expected to be, but Greeks and Romans all the rest of their lives?—just such Greeks and Romans too, as their models were. And being such Greeks and Romans as their models were, how many generations can pass ere the nations of to-day will have reached the same end as did the Greece and Rome that are their models?
To-day, in the schools, children as young as twelve years, are put through daily drills in Greek and Roman mythology. They are required to read and study the wicked and even abominable conceptions in which the myth is involved. These things they are taught and are required under penalties to learn, when it would be difficult for them to learn anything worse if they were turned entirely loose among the professional liars, thieves, adulterers and murderers, in the very dives of the worst cities in the land. And in this sink of abominable conceptions they are kept until they graduate from college or university, especially when they take the classical course.
It is nowise different when the youth are induced to take up the study of what passes popularly for art. For the chief models are Greek and Roman; and Greek and Roman art was idolatry, and Greek and Roman idolatry was abomination of every sort. Their extolled philosophy and their boasted wisdom were after the same order. Their philosophy was a lie; their wisdom was foolishness.
Such being the great forces that wrought in Greece and Rome, how could such forces work to any other end than ruin? And such being the deep and leading forces which are working to-day, by every means that can be invented, how is it possible for such forces to work to any other end than ruin?
Seeing the inevitable tendency of such education, it is not strange that sober thinkers in both Europe and America should begin to call for something better in education. In view of the situation as it really is, it is proper enough that the question should have been raised, “Does College Education Educate?” One leading educator who is striving for better things very pertinently remarks:—
“There is another and most important point at which the subject matter of an educational system touches the well-being not only of the student but of the nation at large: that is the ethical influence.
“It cannot but be manifest to every thoughtful observer that one of the most discouraging signs of the times, is the want of honest thinking and practical common sense which is daily exhibited in high places and in low, in the rulers of nations, the dispensers of law, the managers of great enterprises, and so on down to the political “boss,” or, if there be a lower level, the politics of the saloon.
“Trickery and juggling with words in absolute disregard of facts; plausible expressions disguising well-known facts and the disposition to build upon inequitable technicalities in defiance of the most manifest principles of right and wrong, are the things which give daily support to the views of the anarchist who regards all law, order and government with hatred, and is pleased to see that representatives discredit themselves and bring daily distress and alarm to those who would fain believe in an advancing evolution of the human race and a millennium in even the far-distant future.”
Yet surely it should not be thought strange that these things should appear in the lives of people where education has been largely in a literature of which the warp and woof is composed of just such things. People whose minds have been taking in just such stuff as this, through all their formative years, cannot well be expected to let out anything else in their after years.
If the nations desire anything better to appear in their characters than appeared in the characters of Greece and Rome, they will have to give their youth an education better than that of Greece and Rome, their minds will have to be fed with something vastly different from the foolishness, the chicanery and the abominations generally that are found in the classical literature of Greece and Rome.