He printed a small volume called "A Letter to American Teachers," which he sent to his associates in the American Historical Association, hoping to provoke some response.
At the utmost, the active-minded young man should ask of his teacher only mastery of his tools.
The tailor's object, in this volume, is to fit young men, in universities or elsewhere, to be men of the world, equipped for any emergency; and the garment offered to them is meant to show the faults of the patchwork fitted on their fathers.
The student must go back, beyond Jean Jacques, to Benjamin Franklin, to find a model even of self-teaching.
American literature offers scarcely one working model for high education.
Probably he was, in fact, trying only to work into it his favorite theory of history, which now fills the last three or four chapters of the "Education," and he could not satisfy himself with his workmanship.
The scheme became unmanageable as he approached his end.
Whether life was an honest game of chance, or whether the cards were marked and forced, he could not refuse to play his excellent hand.
He could never make the usual plea of irresponsibility.
According to his theory of history as explained in Chapters XXXIII and XXXIV, the teacher was at best helpless, and, in the immediate future, silence next to good-temper was the mark of sense. The Massachusetts Historical Society now publishes the "Education" as it was printed in 1907, with only such marginal corrections as the author made, and it does this, not in opposition to the author's judgment, but only to put both volumes equally within reach of students who have occasion to consult them.