The public is watching with much interest the attempts making to promote industrial and scientific education in this country. Undoubtedly tho most important effort of this kind is the Cornell University, at Ithaca, N. Y. The tide of opinion has of late been rapidly setting toward a more practical kind of education than has for a long time prevailed. The applications of scientific discovery, have revolutionized the arts, and success in any department of industry is getting to depend more and more upon knowledge of fundamental principles, as science advances. The field, too, is getting so wide that it is useless to hope that any one mind can thoroughly explore more than a portion of it. It has, therefore, become necessary to provide for the special education of youth in order to fit them for anything like a high station in any industria! department. Special education in schools has, till within a short period, been chiefly confined to law, theology, medicine, and the finr) arts. In many cases it was preceded by a course of classical training supposed to be the very best substratum upon which special education could be based. The fact, however, that very many of the most successful professional men (if we except theologians, to whom the knowledge of the ancient tongues is, perhaps, more essential than to lawyers and physicians), achieved their success without such training, while the greater majority of young men who had it failed to accomplish anything above the average of mankind, led to grave doubts as to its importance in a system of training adapted to the needs of modern times. Doubt, engendered discussion, and it is safe to say that at present a largo body of thinking men are convinced of the superior value of thorough scientific training. 58 Such a conclusion could not long be entertained without attempts to put it in practice, and schools have been established both in America and Europe, subordinating classical training to scientific instruction. The Cornell University is such an institution, and although it gives special prominence to agriculture and the mechanic arts, making other scientific and elassical instruction secondary, it yet deserves, in our opinion, to rank as the first school in the United States, when it is considered with reference to its scope and its immense endowment. In saying this we do not disparage those scientific schools which, with a narrower scope, and on a smaller scale are doing most excellent work. Of thes; the Polytechnic Institute at Troy, N. Y., aud several others, cannot be too highly praised, for their judicious management and the thoroughness of their course of instruction. Tlie organization of the Cornell University is, however, so radically diffrent from these schools, that it must be looked upon as an experiment in American education. As yet it has not got fully under way, and its ultimate success or failure is problematical. We believe it will prove a triumphant success, and we have had this faith from the outset. Its annual register has come to hand, and from it we gather that it has a large corps of able professors, and a very large class of students—four liundred and twelve being the number Instructed during the past year. The scheme of military instruction, in compliance with the act of Congress, has been partially developed, and is made accessory to the presarvatiou of quiet, order, and health. The shops which are ultimately designed to form a marked feature of the institution are not yet ready, but it is hoped that another year will witness their completion. The following extract from the register, will show what is designed to be accomplished by the labor department : When the shops are in operation good practical machinists, who have already a sound ordinary Englisheducation, and who wish to make themselves thoroughly scientific master mechanics, can probably do much toward their own support, and at the same time perft themselves iii their special department, in making models of instruments, machines, and apparatus for the University aud other illustrative collections. But this will require skilled labor—the labor of young men already more or less accustomed to the use of tools. The largest part, however, of the existing corps is composed of young men who can give only unskilled labor. For tliese almost the only work at present is upon the University farm, or in the grading of roads and paths on the University grounds. The time usually given is three hours a day, from two o'clock to five p, M., except on Saturday, when more time maybe taken. Much excellent worli has been done, and many students, while doing much toward their support, have thus physically strengthened themselves, Tlie price paid is just what would have to be paid to other parties doing the same work, and as a student has usually less muscular development then an ordinary laborer, his earnings must be less. An energetic and capable student, coming at the beginning of the long summer vacation —extending from the first of J iiiy to the middle of September —could earn enough on the farm to give him an excellent pecuniary start, which, with what he could earn during the Trimesters, would do much toward carrying him through the year. But during the year now begun, with very few exceptions, students commenced work at the beginning of the fall Trimester, and as their studies have taken much time they have had comparatively little opportunity to labor toward self-support. It is hoped, too, that some simple remunerative manufacture may be introduced which will aid in supporting students, but, at this time, the University authorities cannot re-cammend any young man to come relying entirely on unskilled manual labor for support. Some few have that peculiar combination of mental and physical strength required thus to en-t irely support themselves—the great majority have not. Why would not a beet-sugar establishment be just the branch of manufacture needed ? If the beet will grow well upon the lands of the institution it might afford employment for many, and at the same time aid much in the permanent establishment of an important branch of industry. It will aid, also, in sustaining the agricultural science department, in which there seems to be a deficiency of interest at present. The library now numbers nearly twenty-five thousand volumes. An important feature of this library is the publications of the Patent Office of Great Britain, comprising about twenty-five hundred volumes, Tlie Museums of Geology, Mineralogy, Botany, Agriculture, Zoology, and Technology, embrace many large and fine collections. In addition to these there are large collections of apparatus, etc, in chemistry and physics, as also collections in the fine arts. These collections are receiving valuable additions from time to time, and form a very useful and attractive feature of the institution. Although agricultural science was intended to occupy a conspicuous place in the Universi ty course of study, the register shows that only thirty have studied agriculture out of the large number matriculated during the past year, while of those pursuing mechanic arts, engineering science, and the arts in general we find 106. This number will doubtless be augmented when the workshops are opened. We do not argue from these figures that agricultural science is less needed in this country than mechanical science, but that there is perhaps a greater avidity for the acquisition of knowledge on the part of young mechanics, or those who desire to become mechanics and engineers than among those who desire to cultivate the soil. It is the nature of the arts to stimulate a thirst for knowledge which agricultural pursuits, as they are conducted, do not. This is not the fault of the latter occupation er ae. It is the fault of the present morbid state of society, which draws away the more ambitious youths to glittering centers of trade, depleting the farming classes of a kind of intellect which, if retained in it, would give a much higher intellectual tone to the occupation, But we have extended iij- jeBiiirks to a much greater length tfeftfl WO inteiTded, The CuncU UnivcMitf JtttS our tat wish' eg, and we bop tiw PSperSine-i' Will K8lt in an btproyed
This article was originally published with the title "The Cornell University"