« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
United States, during 1840, gathered for the purposes of Education 22,435 dollars.*
In the arrangements of Education among the New States, the Federal Government has acted with perfect faith and zealous regard to this most important cause. No territory can be received into the Union without a formal partition of certain lands on behalf of schools. The method is the following. Each township is six miles square, and is surveyed into sections of one mile square. This gives a plot of thirty-six sections. The sixteenth is “ donated” by Congress for the support of common schools. This is as nearly central as the subdivision will allow. It is then sold, the proceeds are invested, and the interest is annually applied towards the expenses of all, the schools which that area may contain. But no part of the section can be sold to obtain a building: this must be raised by the people. The sectional fund can only be devoted to salary, fuel, and current expense of administration. The people are not compelled to take part in the business. It may be that the section cannot find a purchaser. But if they do agree to undertake it, and decide to choose trustees, then the trustees may compel payment of every cost which the schools incur. That the allotted portion should not find a buyer, is very improbable. It is so placed that it is a most desirable property. The outer lines of the large quadrangle may front to an unpeopled wild. Trade must be chiefly within the included
* Minutes of the Presbyterian Church. 1841.
squares. It is not likely that such an allocation will long remain unsought. The enumeration of the sections is from the north-east corner of the Map, or from our right hand, recommencing at the left.
In such a Country, Education finds a boundless field. America is young in its people, its soil, its government. It has no history, and scarcely annals. It counts days rather than centuries. A mighty experiment is acted there. It might need a rein for its tossing neck and impatient foot, to guide it to the goal. The bark, launched on such a sea of rocks and breakers, demands a powerful helm. The people are the power, the rule, the life, of all: Senatus Populusque. None could ever so require to be taught. Education is the star of their hope and their guidance. That star is fixed. As the school-house rises amidst the landscape of New England, on the far shores of Missouri and Missisippi, and at the very base of the Rocky Mountains,—there is the emphatic pawn, which that great Republic gives to an attentive world, of enlightened freedom, extending civilization, and pure religion. When America and Britain, so essentially one, contend, it is not War but Sedition.
The United States, whether always on the best principles or not, have begun the work of Education in right earnest. Between them and our Country there are many marked distinctions in the manner of undertaking it. It has seized a far more powerful hold upon their public mind. Their action is far more ramified and commanding. A much stronger, and a far more living, power is infused into the administrations. More individual votaries, more noble enthusiasts, are at work. We take it up as a necessity, slowly felt and heavily imposed: they cherish it as a passion and explore it as a science. It is every one's delight. The statesman will not descant on suffrage but with this guidance : the economist will not treat of barter but with this check: the patriot will not appeal to liberty but with this inspiration. On our side of the Atlantic there are none of those scorching fulminations hurled at country, state, people, with which their orators “flame amazement.” They scoff, they satirise, they taunt, they jeer, the mass of ignorance among them. They declare from on high that there are nearly 2,000,000 children in the Union untaught. They avail themselves of inauguration, festivity, holyday, when spirits can little brook reproof, to cast the charge into the nation's teeth. Tribune and pulpit lend their utmost power to the object.
Nothing will they accept, - no bond, no handsel, —
Virtutesque, virosque, et tanti incendia belli ?
It is a pleasing thought that the Education of the world is not quite neglected. Our Missionary Societies gather, daily, hundreds of thousands of children
“Who can be ignorant of the Ænean race and their city of Troy? Of their valour, their heroes, and the provocations of their noble resistance ? We carry not in our bosom hearts quite so unexcitable as such ignorance would suppose.”_Virg: Æneid : lib. i. 571, &c.
beneath their care. The Missionary is the Schoolmaster wherever he sets his foot. He runs to and fro, and knowledge is increased. Nor is every heathen nation ignorant and rude. China welcomes our labours with its three hundred millions of people, half of whom at least can read.* The machinery of learning is well established, its thinking classes are divided into four literary orders, and not a man can rise to any office of dignity and trust but as he abides the most searching and prolonged examination into his educated fitness. This is not simply a lovely theory or a bare possibility: it is the unvarying practice.
* Medhurst's China.