100 and 50 years ago

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    100 YEARS AGO

    Only one subject — Latin — is really educational in our schools. I do not mean that the average boy reads any Latin author after he leaves school, or knows any Latin at all ten years after he leaves school. I do not mean that his Latin helps him even slightly in learning any modern language, for he is always found to be ludicrously ignorant of French or German... But I do mean that as the ordinary public-school master is really able to give a boy easy mental exercises through the study of Latin, this subject is in quite a different position from that of the others. If any proof of this statement is wanted, it will be found in the published utterances of all sorts of men... who, confessedly ignorant of “the tongues”, get into a state of rapture over their school experiences and the efficiency of Latin as a means of education. All this comes from the fact, which schoolboys are sharp enough to observe, that English schoolmasters can teach Latin well, and they do not take much interest in teaching anything else.

    From Nature 25 September 1902.

    50 YEARS AGO

    “My particular mission has been to make men of science conscious of their power and influence in shaping civilized life.” So wrote Sir Richard Gregory in his message of farewell published in Nature of January 7, 1939, when he resigned from the editorial chair which he had occupied with such distinction for so many years. Throughout his long life, which came to a close on September 15, his interest in science for its own sake, and equally for the appreciation by others of its value and significance for humanity, was a driving force which brooked no obstacle... He was a true working editor, marking manuscripts for the printer and seeing the journal through the press week by week with all the attention to detail such work demands. There was never an editorial committee; neither was there even a special panel of reviewers. The entire scientific world, both at home and abroad, has always been Nature's willing advisers and critics. Thus, through this valuable freedom from committee control... was Sir Richard able to contribute very largely towards making the journal what it is... He accepted the saying that 'a good editor wears out the soles of his shoes before the seat of his pants'.

    From Nature 27 September 1952.

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    100 and 50 years ago. Nature 419, 354 (2002) doi:10.1038/419354c

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