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Professor Marsh lectured in Sever 11 last evening on the motives which may induce a student of the latter half of the nineteenth century to study the middle ages and the means by which such study may be carried on.
Modern science is far advanced and, indeed, it has been studied by some men for its own sake, and Romanticism, which was once so flourishing, gradually died out. Men came to realize more and more a truth which Butler signalized by saying that things are what they are; things will be what they will be and that it is folly to be deceived into thinking otherwise. But as Romanticism disappeared, a new power was rising and it was ready when the former was gone, to fill its place. This new star was science. Men devoted their lives to it and at last came to idolize it. They worshipped it for its own sake, little heeding the objections that such a religion was only for the greatest intellects and most devoted students; that it took away the ignorant man's faith, and gave him nothing in return.
But, because it was carried to such extremes by some, science nevertheless will always possess immense power over men's minds for its orderliness, depth, beauty, and above all for its authority. That chemical changes and mathematical equalities will always remain the same is, to the scientist indisputable. That this authority should be introduced into the moral and intellectual world is the wish of broad-minded men of the present day. As organic development has been achieved in the exact sciences so are its beneficial effects needed in the less tangible divisions. An organism of culture, in other words is, or should be, the goal of modern advances in all branches of knowledge. In seeking the best methods for reaching such an end, we instinctively look at the past, in order to profit by its errors and success. And we find, at last, that the middle ages were truly times of origin, since they give us the virtual starting-points of modern society, art, philosophy, and culture in general. The middle ages saw a great mingling of races and they produced a new race with new ideas of these branches of culture. For the original organization of these branches, then, the middle ages are of interest to the modern student, his main methods of studying the times being, principally, two - philology and history.
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