President Eliot has a good word to say for the study of history in his recent article in the June Century, discussing the proper elements for a college education. "If any study is liberal and literalizing," he writes, "it is the modern study of history. Philology and polite literature arrogate the title of the humanities;' but what study can so justly claim that honorable title as the study which deals with the actual experience on this earth of social and progressive man?"
In view of the demands of the modern spirit upon our colleges, so well expressed by President Eliot in this article, it is pleasant to reflect that Harvard falls short of the requirements of the new ideal perhaps as little as any college in America, with possibly one exception, and that in the department of historical study so notably patronized by President Eliot, her position is that of a leader. Already the fame of the college in attracting the more serious students of the higher branches has been largely increased by the widespread reputation of its history department. With eighteen regular courses, and eight instructors entirely devoted to this specialty, besides the collateral instruction in history given to a considerable extent in courses in the ancient and classical languages, in ancient art and in political and financial science, the opportunities offered to the students in this branch of learning are already of the best. Modern history, particularly that of America has as summed at Harvard to a considerable extent the position that its importance demands.
It is above all the modern "scientific" method in history that is in vogue at Harvard. The fundamental distinction of this method,-the distinction expressed by the definition of "history as past politics, politics as present history" is recognized as governing the plan of instruction in almost every course under this subject. At Cambridge (and Cambridge and Harvard in this sense are practically one) has sprung up within the last few years a circle of historical students and writers, particularly in American History, not yet firmly enough bound together by common ideas, or united under a common leader to form a school, but united enough in general subjects and aim to exercise in the near future a decided influence. Of the younger generation of historians this circle at Cambridge is the most promising. Besides the Harvard instructors there should be named as belonging to it, T. W. Higginson, whose current articles in Harper's are expected to form the basis of a work upon American History Justin Winsor, the librarian of Harvard, who, it is known is engaged in writing a critical history of America; Mr. Arthur Gilman, author of a recently published Short History of the American people; those recent graduates of Harvard whose work is represented in the American Statesman's Series of Volumes, such as Mr. Morse, the editor of the series, Henry Cabot Lodge and Mr. Henry Adams; to these may be added the name of Mr. Eggleston, who gathers in Cambridge the greater part of his materials for his work on colonial history, now appearing in the Century. Mr. Tillinghast of the Harvard library, and editor of a recent Epitome of History, should also be named in the list.
With such an impetus from his surroundings, with the incomparable advantages of the Harvard library, whose collection of Americans is, we believe surpassed by but one library in this country,-the Carter Brown library in Providence,-in addition to courses 2 and 13 in United States Constitutional History, course 18 in American Colonial History, course 6 and 8 in Political Economy, treating of the History of the Tariff and of Finance in the United States, and course 4 in the same subject, touching on the economic history of America; the opportunities of the student of the history of this country to be found in Cambridge are not by any means inconsiderable.