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The education which is established in Prussia, is a theme of very wide and vehement eulogy. It has been exalted as a model of perfection. The best, the only safeguard, of liberty, is hitherto withheld. That Constitution which was promised, when a popular spirit was to be awakened, which was the signal-cry for levies of youth and treasure, is still ungratefully and perfidiously refused. The last and the present monarchs have borne their faculties meekly, and have exhibited many amiable virtues. But poor, and to be accursed, are "the virtues which undo a country.” The private excellence and domestic goodness of the despot are not uncommon. His nature must have some vent of tenderness. Wielding a mighty machinery of oppression, it is not likely that he will carry cruelty and violence into his home. It is a respite of self-torment, to find here pastime and caress. It is relief from the heavy forms of State. It is only a variety of selfishness. Who commends the lion, as it devours its prey, that it is loving to its mate and playful with its cubs ? No more dire misfortune has fallen on man, than this amiableness of tyrants. It often is pretence. Better were it to be so. Often it is real. It is then pleaded for excuse to crush millions of families, to send desolations through millions of households. A Nero and a Caligula could not do half the mischief of a William and a Nicholas. What is the country of which we speak ? this kingdom of boasted light ? this land of uni
versal education ? A camp of manæuvres, an arsenal of weapons, a barrack of troops. All are trained to military service. Upon this martial regulation is founded the system of instruction. It supplies, of course, immense facilities for it. A thousand subalterns are ready to conduct it. Pædagogues are the orderlies and sentries. The drum and the drill are the notices and exercises. An elementary education, very complete as far as it goes, is confessedly afforded. But what is the national character which it can shape ? It severs the proper sympathies of parent and child. It extinguishes the proud consciousness of free agency and personal accountability. It raises mind to one level : it as often sinks it to the same.
A dull monotony succeeds. To this is a noble people made slave and victim. What high deeds can such discipline provoke ? What are the excellencies which this culture can inspire? They who anticipate the reign of mind and of religion, can see, in all this mechanism, no preparatory process, no encouraging earnest, no prophetic hope ! *
Moral motive should operate on the parent, and, as early as possible, on the child, in the work of instruction. But though there may be national provision in a free country without compulsion, in every despotic land, it is more or less coercive. The common practice in Germany is, for the schoolmaster to keep a list of the children who attend his school.
“ Notes of a Traveller."
This must be certified by the clergyman of the parish, who remonstrates with the parents, if their children are not enrolled. If this have no effect, the names of the defaulters are forwarded to the commissioners of education, or to the Consistory, as the law may be; and they are then cited to the Court of Judicature, to which they are amenable, are fined, or imprisoned when they have not the means to pay the fine. It may be said, that recusancy seldom manifests itself, and that these punishments are rarely inflicted. But there is another sanction more concealed. The ceremony of Confirmation depends upon the attendance of the children at the school, and their civil rights can only be obtained on receiving it. This proscription is only a disguise of the same harsh and overbearing force, which threatens the mulct or the dungeon.
Not disposed to take offence at a word, nor to indulge a fastidiousness of criticism, we have used, as a part of the common terminology, what is called training. But we disrelish it. It seems to treat man too much as the animal or the posturer : it reminds of the menège or the gymnasium. It is sufficiently well accommodated to the theory of man, as the creature of circumstances, as the proper quantity of flesh and spirit to fill up mercantile or military parallelograms. If there are those who think that they can make him just what they wish, we are sure that they have not planted that aim on any noble height. They would weld him to their end only, as more malleably subservient to them than the metals which they forge. But if we believe in the diversities of human intellect, that there lie deep in it the elements of various power, that education, as the word intends, is the appointed mode of drawing forth its mined stores, then, the system of batons and signals,—the fugle management of all, nothing discriminated, nothing adapted, -can only miserably fail in every exalted purpose, securing but the living machine and debased instrument. We seek to raise the individual, and the nation, to "glory and virtue,” to “honour and immortality,” to a heavenly calling," to a divine nature.” Training is a sorry word for such a destiny. A nobler evolution is supposed : a more celestial impulse is required.
In the classical ages of Greece and Rome, though the gymnastic exercises were recommended, they do not seem to have been enjoined. They were extolled, but not imposed. These and music were the rudiments of education. We know that the instruction of youth was most carefully studied, that the science of education was most diligently prosecuted; but government did not affect to legislate upon it. Once, and, perhaps, only once, was the liberty of teaching revoked. This is a sufficient proof that it was an understood and admitted right. In the 116th Olympiad, the period of Polyperchon, a decree was passed in Athens, by which teachers were forbidden to set up any school, unless the liberty of doing so had been granted by the senate and people. A certain Sopho
cles, the son of Amphicileda, bears the bad credit of instigating it. The very next year it was annulled, and its author was accused, by Philo, of a wicked outrage on the laws, and amerced in five talents, though Demochares, the nephew of Demosthenes, pleaded his cause.
That interval which saw the suppression of educational liberty, was marked by the indignant retirement of Theophrastus, and the other philosophers, from the city. * It is recorded, that during the consulate of Caius Fannius, Strabo, and of Cnæus Domitius Ahenobarbus, (A. U. C. 630,) a persecution arose against the philosophers, --some accounts say, the Rhetoricians, and others, the Epicureans. But their perfect liberty would not have been denied, save on the allegation, that they were the corrupters of youth, to which their methods and opinions lent at least some colour of probability. +
Bergmann. The author has done his utmost to obtain this work. He has failed. He is compelled to do that which he most dislikes, quote a quotation. He finds, however, the following account of the same fact in the Biographie Universelle : “Pour l'atteindre plus surement, et lui ôter les moyens d'une juste défense, une loi ferma toutes les écoles, et interdit aux philosophes d'enseigner, soit publiquement, soit en particulier. En un instant, Athènes fut privée de toutes les voies de l'instruction. Les philosophes s' éloignerènt le même jour; les rhéteurs seuls eurent le privilège demeurer. L'effet de cette loi dura un an : elle fut alors rapportée, et son auteur condamné à une amende de cinq talents. Les philosophes rentrèrent aussitôt dans Athènes."
+ Aulus Gellius, lib. xv. cap. 11. The author of the Attic Nights is evidently wrong in conjoining the name of Messala with Strabo.