Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Philosophical School; and Mr. Manousis, lecturer on Universal History. The latter, as I subsequently learned, is particularly obnoxious to the English, and to those who espouse their side, for the violence with which he attacked them during the differences between the British and Hellenic governments in 1850.

I found no difficulty in augmenting my circle of friends among the students, whose warm reception at once set me at ease with them. There are no dormitories within the Uniersity, or Panepistemion; the students consequently lodge in various quarters of the town. Their rooms are generally shared between two occupants; and as the most of them are in reduced circumstances, the stock of furniture and books is very small. This fact, however, attracts little notice at Athens, from the rarity of large fortunes, and the simple style of living. The salaries of the employés of the government are singularly low-so low, indeed, as to be utterly insufficient for the maintenance of a respectable appearance, without the means derived from peculation and bribery. Yet the professors of the University, most of whom are single men, without the exercise of any uncommon degree of frugality, contrive to live on salaries of six hundred dollars a year, and even to save some part of that sum: and even with such paltry emoluments, it is the highest ambition of numbers of young

Greeks to occupy a chair in that institution.

The Athenian student always takes his meals at the eatinghouse, and his fare is simple and wholesome. The warmth of the climate reduces the necessity and relish for animal food, which rarely appears on the table in any considerable quantity, except at Easter. On that great festival, the most august of the year, it is a universal and immemorial custom to have a whole lamb roasted in every family. There is no one so poor within the realm as to be unable to have some part in the gayety and good cheer to which the day is devoted. On other occasions the only recreation that the student takes consists in a visit to the theatre, or a walk on the public promenade with a friend. He will then invariably insist upon accompanying him to the café to partake of the rahat-lakoumi, a Turkish sweetmeat deservedly popular throughout the East.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

In imitation of the German plan, the University is composed of four distinct Schools—those of Theology, Law, Medicine, and Philosophy. The whole number of professors whose names appear on the programme of studies published soon after my arrival, was forty-six; of whom twenty-five were ordinary professors, and the remainder extraordinary, honorary, and adjunct; the distinction consisting merely in the difference of the emolument they enjoyed, and not in the character of their instruction. All these gentlemen are native Greeks, with the single exception of Professor Landerer, who has long resided in the country, and is a naturalized citizen. One of the faculty is annually elected by his associates as Prytanis, or President; but the powers attached to this honorable post are very limited, and extend little farther than the delivery of an oration at the yearly Commencement in June. The Prytanis of the previous year had been the Archimandrite Misael Apostolides of the Theological School, a man of talent and high attainments, but thoroughly wedded to the Russian party. He was now to be succeeded by Mr. Pellicas, one of the most prominent jurists and law professors of Greece.

The distribution of instructors in the several departments was exceedingly unequal; as likewise that of the hours devoted weekly to the branches of study. In Theology the three professors gave but fifteen hours of instruction; while in Law there were eleven professors and upward of forty lectures; in Medicine twelve professors and between sixty and seventy lectures; and in Philosophy and the kindred studies twenty professors and eighty-two lectures. The total number of lectures delivered within the compass of a week was, consequently, more than two hundred, embracing every department of science and art. There is a similar inequality with respect to the apportionment of students in attendance. Of 397 regularly matriculated students, during a previous year, 242 were studying medicine, 86 law, 62 philosophy, and only 7 theology. And though the number had now increased to 455, the same inequality was still observable. Besides these students who were inscribed on the books, and who expected to pursue a regular course of study (the phæteta), there were at least three hundred more attending certain branches with greater or less

regularity for a year or two, who receive the designation of acroata, or “ listeners.” The number of students may, therefore, be safely set down at 750, without including those who occasionally frequent the lecture-room as they find time. It is a circumstance well worth the noticing, that rather more than one half of the matriculated students are from districts under the rule of the Sultan. Thus “ Free Greece,” as she is proudly styled, is furnishing to the millions of the same blood that are subject to the tyrant's sway, the benefits of a liberal education; and thus is she gradually preparing the way for their total emancipation from the shackles of ignorance and superstition.

As in Germany, instruction is given wholly by means of written lectures. From the great lack of suitable text-books, the students labor under serious disadvantages, and are compelled to make the mere taking of notes an arduous undertaking, wasting in the manual exercise much time that might be far more profitably expended in reading on the subjects treated in the public discourses. It becomes the more indispensable to commit to paper the entire substance of the lectures, from the fact that the only examinations are those to which the candidate for a degree must submit. They embrace all the subjects comprehended within the course, and are so severe that comparatively few succeed in undergoing them. Their difficulty arises in part from the want of any prescribed order of study. Any lack of adequate preparation is consequently apt to remain undetected until the final trial.†.

As the admission is entirely free, on a pleasant afternoon the lecture-room of a popular instructor will be crowded to overflowing. Step with me, for instance, into the hall where Professor Manousis daily holds forth, and you will find it thronged not only with regular students, but with others who eagerly seize the opportunity to hear an entertaining discourse

* The only recitation is one that is intended exclusively for those who expect to devote themselves to teaching.

† See the preface to “Directions to the students of each School, respecting the succession of the various sciences, and the preservation of Method and Order in the pursuit of the studies in the University"--a pamphlet published by the Prytanis in 1838, in order to diminish the danger of serious mistake.

POPULAR EDUCATION.

85

on Universal History. Here is the soldier, off duty, in his gay uniform, and by his side the parish priest wearing his long black gown and large cap. The youth on another bench, who is distinguished by his long hair, is a candidate for deacon's orders. Here and there, mingled with these, is a fair representation of the townspeople who have escaped from their day's toils, and drop in for an hour or two before returning home. If the discourse be consecrated to Chemistry, the crowd of auditors will be still greater—the aisles crowded, and several standing even upon the lecturer's platform.

Connected with the University, there is on the hill of the Nymphs an excellent astronomical observatory, the munificent gift of a single wealthy Greek residing in Austria—the Baron Simas—who gave not less than $50,000 to build and furnish it with suitable instruments. Among these the chief is a refracting telescope, magnifying about five hundred diameters. On a clear evening the observatory is a favorite resort of the Athenians of all classes.

That an institution so well organized, presided over by men of the greatest distinction for talents and learning, and yearly attended by seven hundred and fifty youth, has been reared within the short space of twenty years, in spite of formidable obstacles from ignorance and prejudice, is a fact of which Greece may well be proud. But a yet higher claim to the respect of civilized Europe and America can be based on the completeness of her system of gratuitous and popular education, extending from the primary schcol to the very threshold of the University. It may be affirmed with confidence that none need be deprived of a respectable education, save in consequence of their own willfulness or want of industry. The whole area of Greece, containing, according to the official returns, 992,643 inhabitants, is divided into 272 demi, or townships. In these there were, in 1852, 325 common schools regularly organized, with 29,229 children, and in 1853, about 40,000. The studies are such as are most essential for the pursuits of ordinary life. It is not a little remarkable that over 4000 of these scholars are girls. Thirty years ago it was esteemed preposterous for a parent to teach his daughter any thing beyond reading and writing; and such a thing as a

school for girls was unheard of. Yet, at present, there is a sort of female college under the care of Madame Mano, where several hundred young ladies are educated: it occupies an imposing edifice recently erected by the contributions of many, and the liberality of a few wealthy citizens. Of the school instituted many years since by our countryman, the Rev. Dr. Hill, and his estimable lady, mention is made in another place.

Next in rank above the common or demotic schools, are the Hellenic schools, eighty-five in number; and the six or seven gymnasia, corresponding to our grammar-schools, and, in part, to our colleges. Thence the transition is easy to the University, where the professional studies are first undertaken. These seminaries of learning are frequented by about 10,000 students.

Besides these institutions, there are a number of others more special in their character. The Rizarian School is a sort of theological seminary for the education of young men for the priesthood, founded by a wealthy Greek after whom it is named. Of the height of its standard in a literary point of view, I am unable to speak with certainty. It was brought prominently into notice during my stay in Athens by a rebellion of its sixty students. Their ostensible ground was the coarseness of the bread they were fed upon; but it was stated in the journals that the true reason was the dissatisfaction of the bigoted students with the more liberal views and practice of one or two of their professors. It was only by the intervention of the police, and the capture of a few of their numthat peace was restored

among

these bellicose theologians. There is a Military School at Athens, a Naval School at Syra, and an Agricultural School situated but a few rods from the ruins of ancient Tiryns, in Argolis. But the latter, though possessing, it is said, some fifty students, is generally considered a failure. Perhaps the most singular institution is the Polytechnic School, “where on feast days and Sundays the mechanics of the capital resort to be taught chemistry applied to the arts, drawing, etc."*

* I am indebted for most of the statistical information respecting the schools of Greece, to a manuscript paper “On the State of Education

ber,

« AnteriorContinuar »