Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Ichabod would not be altogether an ano- somewhat grim and minatory psalms then maly. The knowledge, or perhaps a more most in vogue, was a study for an artist. proper expression would be the remem- If it did not look the meaning of the brance of the mechanical process by which words, with intensified force, it was problems in the elementary rules of Arith- through no lack of effort on his part.--metic are solved; the ability to write a Pope's happiest combinations of sound cramped but not altogether illegible hand; and sense were never half so successful, and the muscular force to knock down and the lachrymose and dolesul contorand drag out the general average of what tions of his visage must have proved enwere denominated the “big boys" consti- tirely satisfactory to the most fastidious. stuted the usual stock in trade of the With so little real fitness, with so little quondam "school master." in the rural sympathy with the occupation in wich districts. His knowledge of general lit- he was engaged, and with his attention erature was confined to the selections in distracted by the multifarious and misthe "English Reader” or “Columbian cellaneous nature of his duties and inteOrator," read mechanically and in a bliss- rests, it is not surprising that Ichabod, fulstate of ignorance respecting the precise though not unfrequently immensely popmeaning of pretty nearly one important ular in his district, should prove but a word in every sentence. He boarded very imperfect realization of our present around; had abundance of exercise, a ideal of a model teacher. glorious appetite, and drew huge draughts The occupation has been brought into of enjoyment from sources so apparently disrepute by individuals of this descriplimited, that it was like a re-enactment of tion, just as quacks have involved medithe miracle of the widow's unfailing cruse cal science in suspicion, or as pettifoggers of oil. He taxed his ingenuity to become have disgraced that profession which has popular with his temporary landlady.-- been pronounced, by ore of its most disUpon her favor he was, to a great extent, tinguished living members, "ancient as dependent for his fare, accommodations magistracy, noble as virtue, necessary as and creature comforts generally. Expe- justice." From under this temporary rience made him sage. He became pro- shadow the teacher is rapidly emerging. foundly versed in the art of adapting him- Ilis true and proper position is coming to self to circumstances. He came to know be recognized. Its dignity and importhis customer at a glance; and trotted the ance are beginning to be felt. And with children or sparked the daughters as ap- this recognition comes a sense of the nepeared to his practiced judgment the most cessity of a higher standard of culture, of certain and profitable investment. The a wider range of attainments, and of the moments of leisure which these arduous propriety of filling up the ranks of the and somewhat time-consuming duties left profession with those who shall enter it him, were usually devoted to perfecting from a love and propensity to the calling himself in psalmody. If of a decidedly itself, and not as a mere temporary shift sentimental cast of mind, he was not un for a subsistence. Life is short and art likely to be the possessor of a flute, and is long. There are few avocations that do given to practicing” upon it-grievous not require a large share of the attention malpractice it was likely enough to be, in order to be pursued successfully. We eliciting asthmatical notes, which, never- have heard of inen whose talk is of oxen theless were received with a due measure and the goad. This is as it should be.of applause. His proficiency in psalmody Whatever a man does, let him do it with however, was what Ichabod most prided ail his might. We cannot run through himself upon. He was versed in all the the whole range of aspiration and effort. recondite knowledge necessary to " untic Cowley declares that the world woulul the hidden soul of harmony." He was been too little for the conquests of Crompowerful in those parts where sweetness well, if the short line of his human life was drawn out into particularly long could have been stretched out to the exlinks; and rejoiced, like a strong man tent of his immortal designs ;" but the running a race, in the fugue parts. In limits which have been set to mortal exsinging he affected the con expressione.— istence obviate all difficulties of this charHis countenance while going through the acter. Whether the human being would

subdue material kingdoms, or conquer fully fitted themselves for this peculiar the fairer provinces of knowledge and sphere of usefulness; especially to take thought, it matters little in this respect. superintendence of those Union Schools, The span of life is too contracted to afford which are springing up throughout the to any man the hope of making more than country, which promise to become the ina trifling inroad upon the latter. Least struments of so much good in forwarding of all need he have any fears of exhaust- the cause of education, if judiciously maning the means of knowledge and of hav- aged, and which are so deserving of ening to sigh in vain for new worlds to con- couragement. We do not want, for such quer. It was Alexander's ignorance that positions, men who, after a mechanical led him to imagine that he had subdued mastery of some of the rudiments of what the earth, and only through a similar de- is, in common parlance, termed an edufect will any mortal fancy that he has cation-just sulficient to enable them to embraced the cycle of even human knowl- obtain a certificate of qualification from edge.

the ignorant or good natured officialWhile it is highly proper to gain gene- without care for their profession, without ral ideas upon a variety of subjects, to an effort to obtain that insight into charstudy outlines and general principles, to acter, so essential in the teacher, and some extent we can hope to know inti- heedless of improvement, are contented mately, and comprehend thoroughly, and to remain as innocent of all new ideas and in detail, but a few. Circumstance or of any attempt to render themselves betinclination has placed each one of us in ter qualitied for the proper discharge of peculiar relations with the rest of the their duties, as is a Chinese Mandarin of world. Farmer, broker, teacher, jurist, any course in life, except in the time halengineer, metaphysician, theologian - lowed ruts of his ancestors. Some men each inhabits a different sphere of thought. love to cope with difficulties. Cato told Each views the world from a different his soldiers, when marching over the arid stand-point. Each is compelled to yield sands of Lybia, “Thirst, heat, sands, sera large share of his attention to a partic- pents are pleasant to a valiant man” Diffiular class of objects or ideas. The ima- culties, obstacles, perplexities, develope ges and vagaries that people even their the true man. We do not want for the dreams, are peculiar and characteristic.— responsible office of educators, men who The metaphysician is not likely to dream will be contented with any moderate of ploughing, or the somnolent farmer's standard of excellence. Contentment in brain to be haunted with attenuated ab- spite of all the eulogiums that have been stractions, with vague theories of percep- pronounced upon it is not much of a virtion, or the totality of final causes. Un- tue. The most contented people on earth der the hat of every man that walks the perhaps are the Chinese; the most reststreets, says Thackeray, there expands a less the European and American races.different world--or something to that ef- “ Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle fect. Thus existence is clothed with of Cathay," sings the poet. Find a confreshness and beauty; there its ever-shift- tented man and you find a clod—a human ing panorama developes new and pictur- oyster shut up in his shell, but of less esque effects; thus are we fed with nov-worth to society than the shell-fish on elties, and

account of the dietetic prejudices of com"Life, like a domo of many-colored glass, Stains the white radiance of Eternity."

munity. He should be shipped to the

Fegees at once when more liberal views From these conditions arises a necessity obtain. for devoting the attention and energies, chiefly to the calling which we shall have “The grand old gardener and his wife,” deliberately, and after a careful introspec- ought to be blamed the more moderately tion and consideration of our capabilities, for their little transaction in fruit, which habits of thought and inclination, chosen resulted so disastrously, since it demon

Hence the propriety of re- strated that even the joys of Eden could garding teaching as a profession and not not satiate their capacity for enjoyment, as a temporary means of support. We nor approach that elevation of bliss and want earnest, devoted men, who have care- knowledge after which, by the divine in

as our own.

tree.

stincts of their nature, their human spir- -must have shuddered before the dark its yearned, as the weary and fainting mysteries of death, and tottered along the traveler over the torrid wastes of Sahara, perilous chasms of doubt. The world, yearns, in his fiery thirst, for the cool and beyond a question, has reaped its richest odorous shades of the oasis, and the bub- harvests from the efforts of discontented bling spring at the roots of the palm- men. Socrates recognized these truths

Contented men-if there be any, when he cried out, “O, ye Gods, what a live and die, and the world is no better sight of things do I not want! "Tis thy for their having been. Discontent is a want alone, that keeps thee in health of great motive power. Your contented body and mind, and that which thou man may do well enough as a picturesque persecutest and abhorrest, as a feral feature in Society—as a rock or a pool in plague, is thy physician and chicfest the landscape; but it is the rushing tor- friend, which makes thee a good man, a rent, torn into foam by jagged obstruc- healthful, a sound, a virtuous, an honest tions, which it brightly overleaps, that and happy man. Life, our true and turns the mill-wheel and grinds the corn, normal condition, is a restless reaching It is water, incarcerated in close prison- out towards that high ideal, to which, if walls, tortured by fire, and fiercely writh- unattainable, we may evermore approxiing to escape, that moves the ponderous mate. I would have the teacher, thereengine, hurls onward the iron horse, and fore, take a pride in his profession; and, pushes the huge steamer—the crowning never subsiding into a torpid content, effort of the builder's creative genius- continually strive to attain a higher against winds, and tides, and opposing standard of excellence. He will thus set currents, steadily through the surging an example worthy of imitation and inturmoil of the great deep to the desired fect the fellow-laborers, with whom he haven. The stagnant pool turns no en- may be brought in contact, with the congines, grinds no corn. It was necessary tagion of his own enthusiasm. that the fiery heart and iron will of a Lu There are innumerable drawbacks and ther should be stirred up to their intensest discouragements in this, as in all other development by the shows, hollow con- occupations: There is hard work and ventionalities, and manifold corruptions of drudgery: There are strongholds of stuthe mediæval church, to begin the mighty pidity--regular Sevastopols of thickwork of the Reformation. It demanded skulled ignorance and duliness, which, a spirit so restless that neither poverty, with all your allies of skill and expeneglect, ridicule, scornful repulse, the rience, hold out and seem impregnable. sneers of the many, nor the cold and Stupidity! It ballles the very Gods, says careless assent of the few—not perils the German poet. No wonder, then, that known or unknown-could tame or in the teacher sometimes finds himself unatimidate, to clear up the mystery of the ble to prevail against it. There is moreWestern Ocean and realize the premoni- over, frequently a sense of unappreciated tions of Seneca and Plato. Before a Mac- labor that strikes home to the heart with beth or a Hamlet could have been writ- chilling force. But with all his discourten, Shakspeare, the great and serene agements, vexations and trials, he has poet, must, in his inner life, have felt many consolations; much to cheer and longings for the pomps and shows of reward him. Vast possessions, accidenroyality, must have experienced the tal honors, do not constitute happiness. stingings of remorse, the lust of power, In many a secluded nook in life, in many as well as the coarse and painful realities a sphere of quiet, unobtrusive usefulness, of life-the oppressor's wrong, the proud I take it there may be found men as noman's contumely-must have struggled ble, as happy, as much to be envied, as with the burden and the mystery of all the wealthiest operator in Wall Street, or this unintelligible world---must have even the present incumbent of the Presilooked before and after, and revolved dential chair. Real dignity and essential those great and unanswerable questions honor have their birth in higher things. of destiny that forever obtrude them- They are not dependant upon the stock selves upon the mind and vex it with market or the maneuvering of politicians. thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls. The consciousness of filling worthily some

useful station, of acting faithfully and fluence. The world cannot be reformed honestly the part assigned us in life, of hy mere outside, statutory regulations.living for others as well as ourselves, is Individuals must be reached and the seeds no tritling source of happiness. This the planted in the mind; for all true reform teacher may possess.

| begins there and grows from the heart Is he a philanthropist? Is his aim the outward, like the endogenous palm-tree. amelioration of social life, the disseinina- It is useless for a single man to think of tion of sound morality-bis highest am- effecting any wide and permanent reform bition to be of service to his fellow men? unless the age be prepared, in advance, A field of practical effort lies before him. for his coming. The latter is a task to No Boorioboola Gha, beyond the seas, which no one man is equal. It will renigh unattainable, where, after great la- quire the efforts of a vast multitude of bor an i expense, a few incomprehensible workers to inaugurate the bright era of ideas of Christianity, and some dozens of peace and justice, when the right shall be woolen shirts may be distributed among supreme, and the red blossom of war," the savages of a tropical climate. His never more unfold its heart of fire;" just task legins at home. It lies in the di- as myriads of stars combine to form the rect line of his chosen profession. His Milky Way, or countless drops of rain to influence is powerful, if he will but exert make up the rainbow. Each generation it, in shaping the dispositions and ten- has a work to perform: It has to gather dencies of those under his charge. It is together the fruits of past experience, to hard, next to impossible, to change the garner them up in the storehouse of its bent of Man's matured nature, but in the memory; and to take a step in advance. budding period of childhood it easily That step! What Herculean effort, what yields to external impressions. I am no infinite labor it involves! The timid and believer in the doctrine of innate and to- the base conspire to prevent it. Those tal depravity. All experience contradicts who sit in the high places, who have it. The flame does not soar upward, the reached their maximum of power and inriver does not seek the sea, with a more fluence, the conservatives whose chief aim spontaneous and native instinct, than is to conserve themselves and their espeman's first free, unvitiated aspirations cial interests, dread it. Hoary Wrong reach out towards something nobler, that has long usurped the place of Right, grander, better than he possesses. It dreads it, and threatens to overwhelm all may be doubted whether sin can so de- who may dare to aid in its consummation. grade, whether long continued vice and But in vain. "The wild-eyed charioteer, crime can so steep the human spirit in Destiny," urges on his steeds. He snaps infamy, so besmirch and blacken it over, his fingers at established usage, and cares as wholly to blot out this inherent im- not a pin for, what are often termed, vestpulse. Passion and habit may be the ed rights. The step must be taken. stronger; but it will still exist there, amid Patriots lay their heads upon the block for its coarse and brutal associations, gentle it; martyrs perish at the stake, wrapt in and beautiful, like the Redeemer of men, la Nessus-shirt of flame; pale students when bowed down by the heavy burden leave “the contemplation of the bright of his cross, and surrounded by a savage, countenance of truth, in the quiet and seignorant and infuriated mob. In this in- rene air of delightful studies," and “emstinct of human nature may be found the bark in a troubled sea of noises and hoarse

coign of vantage” upon which to hang disputes," until those eyes that were "the bed and procreant cradle" ofa love formed to see most clearly the glories of and reverence for truth and justice—the God's visible works, are with "dim suffugood ground, where, if proper seed be sion veiled,” that the great effort may sown, it will take root and blossom into not fail; and, though it may be over bronoble deeds. Here is one of the best and ken thrones and prostrate fanes, and all most practicable methods of reforming that we once held in reverence and awe, the world after all. Its merit is that it bound by a thousand tough and stringy reaches the interior life of the individual roots of Education and Habit into the and leaves its permanent impress there, framework of our being, the step is taken beyond the reach of time or external in- and the world moves.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

This great, clumsy giant of society, ward, one of your forefathers might have whose progress is so slow and painful, is perished with hunger, cold or heat, begradually improving. It moves with less fore he begut the son from whom you are effort than of yore. As knowledge is dif- descended, and that you could not be, fused, as the lamp of the intellect is light- and that all which you think to effect, in ed, in the same proportion will its onward the present and the future, could nibe, morement be facilitated. Thus the teach-, because a grain of sand lies in a different er finds himself enrolled in the ranks of place!" the reformers. The results of his labors This is the absolutism of nature, or are a vital power on Earth when he has circumstance. Man is dominated by laws gone. He has committed to his charge ar d by occurrences that originated long the future men and women who are to anterior to his existence. You, and I, take our places.

and all of us, would have been different Upon the character of the discipline to beings from what we are, had the acciwhich they are subjected, depends in a dents of our birth and education been difgreat measure the character of the coming ferent from what they liave been. We cangeneration, just as the natural phenome- not clude the tyranny of circumstances. na of to-day--the sun shine in one place, Early impressions and early prejudices, the storm in another; the winds, the will not relax their iron grasp. But man moisture, the temperature of the atmos- enjoys this advantage : He has the light phere, are necessitated by the phenomena of sovereign reason to guide his footsteps. that have preceded them, and necessitate By that light he is enabled to "look bethe phenomena that shall succeed them. fore and after," and to take advantage, to A German writer has finely illustrated some extent, of the laws by which he is this inexorable consistency of Naturc.- conditioned. Often obscured by the thick

You cannot," he says, " in the moment fogs of ignorance and prejudice, its glinthat now is suppose the position of a mering rays only lead estray. It is for grain of sand to be different, without be the teacher to aid in kindling this light ing obliged to suppose the whole past, into a clear flame, that it may become a indefinitely ascending, and the whole fu- guiding star, to place before the youthfuil ture, indefinitely descending, to be differ- mind objects worthy of its ambition ; high ent. Take a grain of sea-sand :-sup- standards of excellence provocative of empose it lying some paces further toward ulation; to teach not only facts, and itithe interior than it does. Then the dimentary principles, -which are merely storm-wind that drove it thither from the the skeleton of Education-but to explain sea, must have been stronger than it real-clearly the practical bearing and value of ly ras. But then, the preceding weather, those facts and principles in the conduct by which the storm-wind, and the degree of life, and withal to keep prominent the of its strength, were determined, must idea that there is something better than have been other than it was; and the riches, nobler than vulgar notoriety, more weather by which that, in like manner, desirable than the insignia of office, or was preceded and determined. And so the regalities that surround wealth and you have, in an unlimited and indefinitely power—a fountain of perpetual and fres'. ascending series, an entirely different delight, in the possession of a disciplined temperature of air than that which ac. and well stored mind. It is certain that tually existed, and an entirely different if his desire be to lead a life of usefulness character of the bodies that iniluence and -to lend a helping hand to the great are influenced by that temperature. This work of every age, social amelioration and temperature has its influence upon the progress, he need not forsake his calling fruitfulness and unfruitfulness of coun- in search of one better adapted to that tries, and thus on the duration of human end. There are more obtrusive modes of life. How can you know—since it is not doing good; there are more boisterous permitted us to penetrate into the inte- and noisy fields of effort; there are rerior of Nature, only to indicate possibil- formatory schemes characterized by more ities—but that, with such a quality of pretensious, outside show; but noise and weather as would have been required to bluster, and show are not the surest indihave cast this grain of sand farther in- cations of the genuine article. In fact

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »