Friday, November 11, 2011

the gentleman and scholar...

Ephraim Emerton  (18 February 1851 – 3 March 1935), scholar, devout Unitarian, teacher and writer on the kind of education that nourished the "Gentleman and Scholar"...

"If we try to analyze this somewhat vague conception, we find that the essential quality of this earlier education was that it was in no sense professional. That is what men tried to express by the word "liberal," a word one hesitates now to use, because one fears to be understood as thereby describing all other education as "illiberal." No such opposition was ever intended, nor was it felt by the generations which came and went under those conditions. They rejoiced in the privilege of spending a certain period of youth in studies and in a mental attitude which had in view no direct practical use of what they were acquiring; in other words, no professional or technical aim. At the conclusion of that period they were not, and knew they were not, fitted to carry on any given work of life. They did believe, however, that they had made the best preparation for living, no matter what specific line of work they might follow. If, at that moment, they were to enter the world of scholarship, they were without technical training in any field. That was all to come, and they were as ready to begin the necessary professional discipline in their way as were the lawyer, the physician, and the engineer in theirs.

What they had had was a chance to fix solidly in their mental character the largeness and the beauty of the intellectual life. They had had time to think and to ripen without concern as to just whither their thinking and their unconscious development were leading them. No matter into what direction they might now turn their activity, they were bound to carry with them that essential thing which, for lack of a better name, we agreed to call the liberal spirit. If they had made a proper use of their chance they could never be mere specialists in their field. Their special and technical skill must always be infused with that higher and larger spirit of culture to which the professional spirit is always and necessarily more or less antagonistic. Expressed in terms of the inner life, such a scholar was, and was felt to be, a gentleman. No one cared what his origin might be. There was no fixed type to which he was forced to correspond. There might be endless diversity in his outward expression of himself; only, through all diversity and with every allowance made for original advantage or disadvantage, there was the inevitable stamp of the gentleman and the scholar."


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