A RESULT OF AMERICAN JOURNALISM.
In an article on journalism and literature in the Atlantic , the writer, Professor W. J. Stillman, says : — As the journal of culture leads to scholarship and the sounder and broader general education of the public, itg work passeß under the classification of science and out of journalism proper; it ia a branch and continuation of the university. We in the United States of America are proud of our educational system, and it ia not an infrequent boast that we are the best educated people in the world. In fact, we are one of the worst. It nny be true that in the United States there are more native boys of a given age who can read and write than in any other country, and that we have more colleges and universities than any two other countries combined; but the number of persons who are profoundly versed in any branch of learning, or who may be said to be really educated, :8 probably less than in most European
c juntries. Iv such a question it is no* the extent of the primary or secondary education that tels, but that of the superior. Nor is there any validity in the excuse that we are a young nation. We have all the advantages that heredity can give, and the concentrated results of all the culture the world has known, and the proof that we fully enjoy the advantages of this epoch and past epochs is that here and there an individual amongst us rises to the highest attainments of the culture of the day. But our education in any given branch out of the practical, the pursuit of the material, is extremely superficial, and we are content that it should be so. It 13 peculiarly and almost exclusively a newspaper education, and responds to the demands of the day — calls for information, not for knowledge — and it is almost inevitable that it should remain so, at least for a long time, for the newspaper is the readiest of all appliances for cpamminw, and cramming is the vice, not only of our own country, but of our race, though eminently of our nation as compared with other nations of our race. America has in fact transformed journalism from what it once was — the periodical expression of the thought of the time, the opportune record of the questions and answers of contemporary life — into an agency for collecting, con densing, and assimilating the trivialities of the entire human existence. In this chase of the day's accidents we still keep the lead, as in the consequent neglect and oversight of what is permanent and therefore vital in its importance to intellectual character. The effect is disastrous, and affects the whole range of our mental activities. We develop hurry into a deliberate system, skimming of surfaces into a science, the pursuit of novelties and sensations into the normal business of our lives. Our travelling is a competition to see the most in the least time ; our learning the collection of the greatest number of facts concerning the greatest number of things ; and our pride the multi'ude of subjects we know something about, rather than the soundness and depth of the knowledge we possess of a few. We desire to be glib ; we mistake glitter for luminousness ; we force the note in wh\tever we undertake, for nothing is so repugnant to our standards as the calm of a serene philosophy. The most disastrous consequence of this condition of things is that even those of us who are earnest are driven into materialism in some of its shapes, if we would make an impression on contemporary development, and our lives are little by little deprived of the spiritual leaven that makes their true vitality. We are more proud of this electric-light brilliancy than we are of any of our real virtues, and strain to ba sparkling until we but dimly perceive the difference between being funny and witty, more dimly that between being witty and wiae. To sum up all that could be said on this score, we are more anxious to seem than to be. Our art. our literature, our politics, and our social organisation are infected with the passion of an ostentation often mendacious, always superficial.