The Youth Of The Scholar -- By: Noah Porter, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 003:9 (Feb 1846)
Article: The Youth Of The Scholar
Author: Noah Porter, Jr.


The Youth Of The Scholar

Rev. Noah Porter, Jr.

The theme on which it is proposed to present some free observations, is the youth of the scholar, or the early training which is best fitted to form the useful and accomplished scholar.

I shall enter into no direct argument to prove, that a genuine scholar holds a most important position in human society, and that the higher and more perfect is his scholarship, the greater and the more salutary is his influence. These two points I shall consider as conceded; though my remarks may tend still farther to vindicate their truth. Still less, shall I argue, that if scholars are to be had, they must be educated. How this may be done at the college or the university, it is not my business to inquire. The inquiry is most important, and much may be said upon it; but it is not a question with which I have any concern at present My concern is with the scholar in his youth, before he enters the college; and the questions which I would discuss all relate to the early training of one set apart to a finished and genuine scholarship.

But what is genuine scholarship? What is it to be a scholar? Opinions upon this point are very diverse. Often are they indefinite and confused; often they are little better than strong and bitter prejudices. I seem forced therefore to define my own views, in order to save myself from being misunderstood; certainly I am, if I would be rightly understood.

The scholar is more than a man of great natural genius or native force of mind. He may be a mail of genius. It is desirable that he should be. His native force may, and must be respectable, and it is well that it should be commanding. But this of itself does not make him a scholar. One may accomplish much by this native force, that educates itself upwards and onwards; but he would have done far more, had he strengthened and sharpened and regulated this natural power by the discipline of the schools.

He is also more than a man, whose powers have been called forth by the stern discipline of life. The discipline of life is not

to be despised or overlooked. Its large observation, its close and shrewd insight into men, its contact with stern realities that put all a man’s mettle to the proof, and often call out giant energies whence they were least expected; all these give an education, such as the schools can never furnish, and without which, the teachings of the schools are often well nigh in vain. But important and essential as this discipline is, it is not the discipline of the schools, and cannot supply its place.

The true scholar is also more than one who is thoroughly qualified for a particular profession. A ...

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