“That Was Spring”

R.C. Jebb, Humanism in Education:

“The younger student, in the highest form of a school where the classics are taught, has not yet reached the moment at which the need of specializing begins to be felt. We will suppose that he has an aptitude and taste for literary studies ; and the number of such boys is always very considerable immensely larger, for instance, than the number of those who are fitted to excel in Greek or Latin composition. When he first attains to some appreciation of the best classical poetry and prose, he goes through a little Renaissance of his own ; he feels the stimulus of discovery ; he perceives, in some measure, a beauty of form unlike anything that he has found elsewhere ; there is much in the thoughts of those great writers, much of their charm, much of their music, that fixes itself in his memory, and becomes part of his consciousness. However dimly and imperfectly, there lives before him a world very distinct from that in which he moves, and yet, as he can already feel, by no means wholly alien from it; though perhaps he does not yet understand with any clearness the nature of the links which bind that past to the present. This, as many masters and pupils could testify, is an experience not confined to the school-boy of exceptional temperament or gifts ; it is one common to a fairly large proportion of boys who have no more than a good average capacity for literary studies in general. And it is an experience which is not forgotten afterwards. Whatever the man’s work may be in after years, if ever he looks back and tries to date epochs in his mental history, he will recur to that early time as a season which made the buds unfold and the leaves grow, which gave him new elements of intellectual life and interest. Ver illud erat.”

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