At the inaugural dinner of the Bristol University College Club, a few weeks ago, Sir John Lubbock made a most interesting speech on the subject of a higher education. He claimed that the sciences and modern languages did not receive their full share of attention as statistics showed. In the course of his remarks he expressed the following views on the warfare now going on between the classics and the sciences: Five-and-twenty years ago, when the hours of study were fewer and the examinations less numerous, a boy had far greater opportunity of following up any special task than he had now. Subjects which did not tell had now no chance. It was very necessary, therefore, that they should ask themselves whether they were following a wise system or not. A young man might pass creditably, nay, with distinction, through school and college, and find himself when he came to age unable to speak any language but his own, and ignorant of any branch of science, although, perhaps proficient in mathematics, Latin and Greek. Such an education, they might say with Locke, fitted a man for the university rather than for the world.
He did not undervalue and would not neglect the classics. All he asked was that science and modern languages should have their fair share of time and attention, or, as has been well observed at their opening meeting, there was one side of our nature which science was the only means of cultivating. Our present system of secondary education demanded, it seemed to him, the careful and serious attention of parents, and, if not watched, would constitute a real danger for the country. He observed that Balliol College and New College, to whose co-operation they were so greatly indebted, had very wisely made it a condition that the instruction which they gave should be literary as well as scientific. He could say, "Would that all our education was scientific as well as literary." There, however, at any rate, it was so, for in Bristol they had taken no narrow view of what a college should be. The fact that certain subjects were so sadly neglected at most schools rendered it the more desirable that their sons should have the opportunity of learning those subjects somewhat later in life. Hence he congratulated the city of Bristol that they possessed a college which cultivated the newer without neglecting the older subjects.