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Book Review


From: "Life and Literature in the Fatherland," Scribner's Monthly 9, no. 3 (1875): 385.

This the title of a very acceptable volume from the pen of Rev. Dr. Hurst, and the press of Scribner, Armstrong & Co. The first impression made on our minds, as we run over its pages, is that it is not the production of one who has made a hasty visit to the Fatherland, and who assumes the role of teacher and adviser after a few months of skimming over the surface of matters.

Dr. Hurst made two extended visits to Germany, one as student, and another as teacher, and in this double capacity he has enjoyed opportunities to learn what very few foreigners know of that interesting country. He was for five years at the head of a missionary institute, first established in Bremen, and then removed to Frankfort-on-the-Main, which received its support from the Methodists of this country for the special purpose of training up young German students for the Methodist missions in Germany, with a view of making these self-supporting and self-supplying generally. After having performed a good work in this line abroad, Dr. Hurst was recalled to this country to take a position in the Drew Theological Seminary, of which he was soon made, and still is, the President.

Among many pleasant chapters concerning German life and letters, with glimpses of the late war, we find a thorough and instructive treatise on the schools of the land of schools. After a succinct account of educational legislation, and a few tables of desirable statistics, we rare introduced to the first order of the German elementary schools, namely, the “Kindergarten.” The discussion about these establishments, now becoming so popular in this country, is very timely. Dr. Hurst does not seem to consider the question of their perfection settled, and we judge from his remarks that he would advise us rather to adapt them to our own wants than to adopt them bodily. We notice, indeed, a very general reaction in regard to German schools of all classes, one in which our author clearly sympathizes. The advice of the book is to give to children these foreign advantages just so far as the modern languages are concerned, and that under the eye and in the home of the parents, as far as possible. As for young men and women, it is far better for them to lay a broad foundation here, even in the languages, and then go abroad solely to complete their studies and acquire such a finish as there alone can be obtained.

For the scholar, we have a very interesting account of the machinery of a German university, and the way of getting started in it, with some excellent hints as to the best way of making use of its privileges. The information is given, too, in a manner so plain and practical, that it is perfectly comprehensible to the novice. The principal universities of the Fatherland all receive enough attention to give us a very fair idea of them and their specialties, and also of the prominent men connected with them. Berlin, Leipsic, Heidelberg, Göttingen, Munich and Halle are ranked among the best, and the advice of this author is to choose Berlin. While it is not so marked as some for special advantages, its curriculum is so comprehensive, and most of its teachers are so distinguished, that, on the whole, he thinks it is the institution where Americans will be likely to find most satisfaction in their studies, while at the same time they can enjoy the special privileges of the capital.


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