THE IDEAL PROFESSOR.

The New York Evening Post comments as follows on a letter from a correspondent touching the effect on the condition of the American universities of the small pay received by the professors: He contends that a man who has the stuff of a good professor in him, or, as "N. N." calls it, "the grit of spontaneous scholarship," will not allow the smallness of his salary to "cool his ardor or check his enthusiasm," and he points to the vigor and industry of the German professors as showing how little effect poverty really has or ought to have on the quality of university teaching. Unfortunately, this illustration overlooks the fact that professors, like other people, are influenced largely by their environment. They are not monks or soldiers and do not form communities apart, living in monasteries or barracks. They are part of the society which they serve, and share in its tastes, habits and standards. The German professor cares little about money, because plain living is the rule not simply of his own class but of the official and professional class - that is, of the best society throughout Germany. In other words, it is "the thing" to be poor, and live as if you were poor, in Germany. The military and civil officers who form the flower of German society are poorly paid, and, not only make no attempt at display, but look on display or luxury as vulgar. They get the consideration which they enjoy, not from their means, but from their position. The possession or acquisition of money is, therefore, not a sign of social success. A man's wife and children are not troubled by his not possessing it. Some of the most highly placed and respected men in the community live no better than the German professor does, entertain no better and have as little money as he has. Consequently the world at large in Germany does not associate failure or small value with a small salary. It has constantly before its eyes great and successful men who were also poor. It does not place the money-making power highest or even high among the human tactless. There has undoubtedly been a change in this respect since the war, but, nevertheless, it is in the main true that in Germany no one thinks as yet of estimating a man's worth by the pay he gets, or thinks of measuring the amount of respect due to him by the way in which he lives.

Now, we wish very much that this state of things existed here or in England. But it does not exist. Moreover, it is passing away more or less rapidly in all countries in which it does exist. All civilized societies in our day tend to the commercial type, and more and more adopt the commercial standards and tests. Consequently we see no chance of introducing it here, and, though it is everybody's duty not to drift idly with the current, it is sheer waste of strength to try and row dead against it. The people, or perhaps we should rather say the farmers of the United States, who are not used to handling or spending large sums of money, have been making a gallant effort daring the last three-quarters of a century in fixing the salaries of public offices, to rebuke the notion that money ought to be the main consideration of an American officeholder. Accordingly, in nearly all the States the salaries of judges and other functionaries have been fixed with reference to the wants of an ideal man of really lofty soul, utterly absorbed in the pursuit of things not seen, and by no means with reference to the wants of the ordinary American man of our time, whom we have to get to fill nearly all our salaried positions, with a wife who likes comfort and expects some share in the social life around her, and children who chafe, as all children do, under poverty, and like a taste of the good things that are going. The result has been simply that the leading lawyers hardly ever go on the bench, and that the ablest business men will not accept political positions, but take service with the great moneyed corporations. There is, in fact, in our time an immense and most unfortunate diversion of the talent of the country away from the administrative service of the government, mainly owing to the smallness of the pay and the precariousness of the position.

Our colleges have largely fallen into the same mistake. Not only have they overlooked the great loss of influence, which has overtaken the ministry, and with it the professional calling which was at one time so closely connected with the ministry, and the great changes in the manners and customs and standards of living of the community which have taken place, but they have persisted, like our correspondent, in setting up an ideal professor of their own construction, asking him how much salary he needed, and paying all the others accordingly. What the ideal professor always says is that the merest trifle is enough for him and his family; that they are, in fact, so absorbed in study that they hardly know what they eat or wear, and that they would be ashamed of themselves if they needed much money. The actual professor is, however, a totally different person. He is mostly a modern American, fond of books and teaching, and study it may be, but also fond of such of the social and oesthetic pleasures of his time as he can afford. The proof is that there is, we believe, no case on record of a wealthy professor living with the Spartan simplicity which college trustees try to persuade themselves that all professors love.

In fact, poverty and very plain living are things which, as has been wittily observed about mariages de raison everybody thinks good for other people, but which hardly anybody thinks good for himself. It does not follow from all this that a life of luxury or of devotion to money-getting is good for professors any more than for other people. There is a measure in salaries and in money-getting, as in every thing else. Man was intended to be a moderate animal. But it does not follow from it that it is in our time and in our country, bad policy for the great institutions of learning to hold out the teaching profession to the young men as a little corner reserved in the midst of our luxurious American society for the practice of endurance and fortitude. It ought to be held out to the rising talent of every generation as a calling in which, like all others, a man who loves it and pursues it with zeal can have not only its special and peculiar pleasures but also a fair amount of the material comforts which the bulk of his countrymen seek, and are praised for seeking by all contemporary moralists and theologians.