The passage below is an excerpt from the autobiography of a 19th-century American literary figure
|a period so long as four years without some sensation of loss-some sentiment of|
5habit-but school was what in after life he commonly heard his friends denounce as
an intolerable bore. He was born too old for it. The same thing could be said of most
New England boys. Mentally they were never boys. Their education as men should
have begun at ten years old. They were fully five years more mature than the English
or European boy for whom schools were made. For the purposes of future advancement,
10as afterwards appeared, these first six years of a possible education were
wasted in doing imperfectly what might have been done perfectly in one, and in any
case would have had small value. The next regular step was Harvard College. He was
more than glad to go. For generation after generation, Adamses and Brookses and
Boylstons and Gorhams had gone to Harvard College, and although none of them,
15as far as known, had ever done any good there, or thought himself the better for it,
custom, social ties, convenience, and above all, economy, kept each generation in
the track. Any other education would have required a serious effort, but no one took
Harvard College seriously. All went there because their friends went there, and the
College was their ideal of social self-respect.
20Harvard College, as far as it educated at all, was a mild and liberal school, which
sent young men into the world with all they needed to make respectable citizens,
and something of what they wanted to make useful ones. Leaders of men it never
tried to make. Its ideas were altogether different.
The Unitarian clergy had given to
25the College a character of moderation,
balance, judgment, restraint, what the French
called mesure; excellent traits, which the College attained with singular success, so
that its graduates could commonly be recognized by the stamp, but such a type of
character rarely lent itself to autobiography. In effect, the school created a type but
30not a will. Four years of Harvard College, if successful, resulted in an autobiographical
blank, a mind on which only a water-mark had been stamped.
The stamp, as such things went, was a good one. The chief wonder of education is
that it does not ruin everybody concerned with it, teachers and taught. Sometimes
in after life, Adams debated whether in fact it had not ruined him and most of his
35companions, but, disappointment apart, Harvard College was probably less hurtful
than any other University then in existence. It taught little, and that little ill, but it
left the mind open, free from bias, ignorant of facts, but docile. The graduate had
few strong prejudices. He knew little, but his mind remained supple, ready to receive
40What caused the boy most disappointment was the little he got from his mates.
Speaking exactly, he got less than nothing, a result common enough in education.
Yet the College Catalogue for the years 1854¨C1861 shows a list of names rather distinguished
in their time. Alexander Agassiz and Phillips Brooks led it. H. H. Richardson
and O. W. Holmes helped to close it. As a rule the most promising of all die early, and
45never get their names into a Dictionary of Contemporaries which seems to be the
only popular standard of success. Many died in the war. Adams knew them all, more
or less; he felt as much regard, and quite as much respect for them then, as he did
after they won great names and were objects of a vastly wider respect; but, as help
toward education, he got nothing whatever from them or they from him until long
50after they had left College. Possibly the fault was his, but one would like to know how
many others shared it. Accident counts for as much in companionship as in marriage.
Life offers perhaps only a score of possible companions, and it is mere chance
whether they meet as early as school or college, but it is more than a chance that boys
brought up together under like conditions have nothing to give each other.
1. Taken as a whole, the passage is best described as
2. In line 3, the phrase "this experience" refers to Adams'
3. Which of the following best describes the rhetorical effect of the sentence in line 6 ("He was born too old for it")?
4. The idea expressed in "He was born too old for it" (line 6) is reinforced by all of the following phrases EXCEPT
5. The speaker mentions the "Adamses and Brookses and Boylstons and Gorhams" (lines 13–14) as examples of which of the following?
I. Families that helped Harvard maintain its reputation as an exclusive finishing school for young men
II. New England families that had traditionally sent their sons to Harvard
III. Students whose names assured them of preferential treatment in Harvard's admission process
6. The two sentences beginning with "Harvard College" and ending with "tried to make" (lines 20–23), employ all of the following EXCEPT
7. The effects of a Harvard education discussed in lines 20–22 are referred to elsewhere as which of the following?
8. In context, the word "stamp" (line 26) is best interpreted to mean
9. "[A] mind on which only a water-mark had been stamped" (line 29) is best understood as a metaphor for
10. Which of the following best describes the tone of the sentence in lines 30–31 ("The chief . . . and taught")?
11. The rhetorical device most in evidence in lines 34–36 is best described as
12. The function of the sentences "Yet the College Catalogue . . . close it" (lines 40–42) is primarily to
13. The speaker employs an analogy between companionship and marriage (lines 49–50) mainly to
14. The speaker in the passage can best be described as a person inclined to believe all of the following EXCEPT that