WITH the close of the last week those Seniors who elected Latin 7 for the present year ended their labors in that most interesting department of the law. It was with much reluctance that they finally took this step, for the study was so entirely satisfactory that the affection which even on such short trial had been formed for it was not easily overcome. But, after all, it was a thing of a useless kind; well enough, perhaps, for those with a fondness for it, but certainly not worth a serious consideration from a body of men having, like our respected Faculty, so much weightier business to conduct. In a course which could by any possibility prove beneficial to those pursuing it, there would, no doubt, have been appointed an instructor who should bestow upon it his undivided and fullest efforts. Not so Roman Law. It was sufficient to engage the services for a few hours a week of a gentleman whose time ought to have been considered fully occupied. Anything more expensive would have been a downright waste of college funds.
In the case of a more important study, a passing thought might have been given to providing the necessary text-book, so that no delay should be suffered from want of it. But as for Roman Law, the book was not of the slightest consequence. No doubt it was expected to appear when wanted; and if not, it would not make much difference. Those who were foolish enough to choose such a study could wait eight or ten weeks well enough; or they could drop the study when they became tired of waiting, and grind up a little back work in some other branch. It would do them good, both by inculcating the habit of industry and by illustrating the terrible uncertainty of human expectations.
Does not this kind of reasoning bear a little heavily upon some who are disposed to think differently of this subject,-for example, upon those who, intending hereafter to take up the study of modern law, happen to consider a knowledge of the nature of the root and trunk of the tree necessary to a proper appreciation of its fruits ?
But a large proportion of those who elected this course did so with the expectation of pursuing it with a small division, and of enjoying the greater amount of personal intercourse with the instructor which results. With any this advantage is one of large influence. Is it not, in fact, one of the faults in our present system, that in those studies which are most necessary to even a respectable education, while most agreeable to the tastes of the average student, the members of a division are so numerous that it is impossible for any individual to receive more than the most meagre immediate attention from the instructor ? How much greater would be the profit derived, if every student were to feel that the teacher's remarks were directed to him personally!
Again, it is a great hindrance to a proper choice of electives in the earlier years of a college course, to know, by bitter experience, that implicit reliance cannot be placed upon the electives to be offered in future years. The benefit is small which is secured from a smattering of a score of different studies having no distinct connection and tending towards no direct result. In the case in hand, had not the College been so poor, it would have been possible, perhaps, to have appointed a new instructor, after the necessary withdrawal of the one first selected, and so have prevented the disappointment which we have suffered. But the lamentable poverty of our institution is a sufficient excuse for this, or even greater wrongs.