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It becomes a living teacher, giving lessons profounder in their impression, sublimer in their unity, than the most accomplished professor could dictate. The pyramid, which lifts its firm head among the shifting sands of the desert, is an instructor more impressive than all the Egyptian magi from the first Pharaoh downwards. It is the fixedness of
The layers of granite,
eternity amid the accidents of time. which are now weekly lifted up on Bunker Hill, will convey one great lesson, till some earthquake topples them over.
The United States Bank at Philadelphia, in its severe simplicity, it has been said, is the best teacher of rhetoric, if it is not of financiering, which is to be found in our country. No one can gaze on the gateway of the Girard College in the same city, without feeling that there is no treatise on architecture which can claim rivalship with it. If the poor orphans were to study that science only, the millions lavished on the building would have been well expended. In this way, the dull rock becomes a Mentor; the dead brick cries out from the wall; the iron finger at the top of the steeple has nerves and sinews.
We are glad that another of these speechless yet eloquent teachers has taken his place on the banks of the Connecticut. We hope he will maintain it for ages. The solitary boatman on the river, as he launches his little skiff out of the Canadian forest, is quickly reminded, on either hand, that the invisible God is publicly adored. Soon the temple of science, on a picturesque little plain, as if inclosed "out of the world's wide wilderness," shows him that he is advancing into a region of high civilization. Descending a few hours more, a modest pile of stones is a remembrancer to him alike of Indian prowess, and of the spot where sleeps the flower of the county of Essex. Then, in the broad ex
panse of the valley, "where the river glideth at its own sweet will," rise up other noble structures, whose fame, we hope, will grow greener from age to age. Hardly has he passed that solitary monument not made with hands, standing from century to century, as a faithful sentinel over a garden which is richer than the fabled Hesperides', when his eyes are again saluted with another goodly structure, designed to train up the living and fragrant flowers, not of the county of Essex merely, but of our common country.
A subject vitally important to the well-being of our land has now a permanent representative, a tangible, living impersonation, not dependent on a single human life, but to last while the river flows, and the guardian mountains reach towards it their aged arms. We are surrounded by signs, not to be mistaken, that the education of our dear countrywomen requires time, system, well-considered and welldirected effort.
II. Permanent female institutions will furnish opportunity to prosecute certain studies, which have hitherto been attended with but little practical advantage.
One of these studies is Mental Philosophy. Its importance it is hardly possible to exaggerate. It has been said that the ability to write well implies every thing else. The man who holds an effective pen has, necessarily, a logical understanding, disciplined taste, resources of knowledge, the power to illustrate, and a ready command of language. Thus it is with him who is familiar with the structure of his mind. He has the habit of patient attention. He knows the uses of his various intellectual faculties. No study so
much combines the advantages of all others. It is theoretical and practical, equally conversant with the iron links of logic and the sunniest flowers of rhetoric. It gives one the
nicest tact in the use of language, while it teaches him that the aptest and most cunning words are no equivalent for massive thought.
A good definition of a complete education is this: It gives one the power to meet any exigency in the line of his profession; extent and exactness of knowledge; promptitude and pertinency in the use of it. So of a thorough and comprehensive acquaintance with mental science. It fits him for all conceivable emergencies. It supplies resources which a thousand calls of duty cannot exhaust, because he is always acquiring and classifying knowledge; while, in the application of it, he has an infallible guide in his sound judgment and correct taste.
The value of the study for men has never been denied. It forms an indispensable part of every complete and incomplete course of education. In some form or another, it is taught in every high school, college, and professional institution. But is it not of equal value in the intellectual discipline of females? Is it not fitted to their circumstances more perfectly than any other study?
Mrs. Hemans, speaking of Carlyle's criticism on the poet Burns, says, "Carlyle certainly gives us a great deal of 'bark and steel for the mind.' I, at least, found it in several passages; but I fear that a woman's mind never can be able, and never was formed to attain that sufficiency to itself, which seems to lie somewhere or other among the rocks of a man's." Now the study in question, though it might not impart, nor should we wish to have it impart, a rocky character to woman's intellectual nature, still would do more than any other single science to create that power of sufficiency to itself, the absence of which the poet asserts and deplores. How will it accomplish this?.
First, by communicating that precise knowledge, the possession of which is always agreeable, and which contributes to that calmness of the spirits, that equanimity, which promotes self-reliance. While it supplies materials for meditation, it fits the mind to employ itself upon them; it furnishes both the means and instrument for self-reflection. A great cause of instability of character is intellectual poverty, want of materials of thought, or an exclusive dependence for enjoyment on the outward world. But by the habit of calm reflection on the processes of one's own mind, the creature of sense and impression learns to rely on a firmer prop. If this individuality of character, this power of selfcontrol, is less developed in female character than in that of men, as Mrs. Hemans suggests, then no course of study could be more imperative than that whose immediate effect would be to supply the deficiency, by making the mind master of itself.
Again, the study imparts symmetry to the intellectual development. It represses every lordly tendency; it chastens all luxuriant growth; it spreads a delightful harmony over all the movements of the soul. There is, unquestionably, a stronger tendency in females than in the other sex, to the imaginative, or to the inordinate cultivation of the imagination. We do not object to a large and liberal nurture of this faculty. She has her uses, her noble, her religious uses. She helps to sustain the soul in its searches for truth, as well as in its whole wearisome progress through this disciplinary state. She smooths the hard features of our lot. She plants flowers in the crevices of the rocks, which shed their fragrance upon us as we pass by. She encircles the unknown future with a strange interest. We are thus drawn upward in the strait path of duty, for she
does not necessarily mislead. Her offices are kind, and her hand is faithful. If she does not perform all her promises, it is only because richer and unimagined things are in store for us. She directly aids us, also, in the discovery of truth. How do we form our conceptions of the Divine attributes? Is it not by imagining human virtue, or human power, enlarged to their utmost limits? We cannot grasp abstract perfection by an effort of the understanding. All which we can do is to imagine the nearest approximation which we can make. He who has this power in the highest exercise, other things being equal, will form the most worthy conception of God. His eternity,-how could we gain our present faint idea of it, if we were deprived of the aid of imagination?
Still this aspiring faculty must be kept within her limits. She must not ascend the throne of the despot. She must not domineer, at least in our country, over the practical understanding. She must dwell with her fellow-inmates in all sisterly affection. She must be trained along with the other powers. There must be coherence, concinnity, completeness in educating the mind. The laws of the intellect must be patiently studied. Each faculty must receive its appropriate nourishment. In other words, there is no substitute for an ample training in the philosophy of the mind. Education, without it, will commonly be exclusive, ill-adjusted, and incomplete.
But in female schools, as hitherto managed, there has been no opportunity to prosecute this study. If a young lady can attend but one or two terms, her labor will ordinarily be lost, if she essays this difficult branch. It presupposes some discipline, some acquisition. Because a young lady can skilfully analyze a Latin verb, or a mountain flower,