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Although they may greatly facilitate and expedite the operation and influence of those agents, they can not serve as their substitutes.
Classical culture has spread a subtle, but mighty influence throughout the entire mass of modern European and American society; an influence which may not be everywhere visibly seen or coneciously felt, but which, nevertheless, is there, giving a peculiar tone and character to the whole mental condition, to all the habits of thought and feeling. It is not necessary that all should be classical scholars, but it is extremly important that some should be. There must be some to keep the original fountains constantly pure and open. The influence of a learned class in the community is most happy and desirable. It is their mission, and their effect, to raise the tone of thought, to exert a refining and humanizing influence, to cherish the spirit of civilization, and to preserve society from the threatening absorption of a materialistic barbarism. Far distant be the day when our American society shall lose such a safeguard and such a leaven. Far distant be the day when classical studies shall be proscribed in our colleges, or academies, or free schools. Far distant be the day when classical learning shall be put up at auction with steam-enzines, threshing machines and magnetic telegraphs. We do not inquire what is its market value. We do not ask what the world will pay for, but what it needs.
But I am detaining you too long. I must advert again, however, before sitting down, to the great interest of this occasion, and to the immense importance. in itself and especially in relation to this community, of the Institution here and now inaugurated. We are at this moment in the midst of intense political excitement. The great issues supposed to be staked upon the election of this or that candidate for the Presidency, make almost every heart to throb with anxiety. The banner-cries of “Buchanan and Breckinridge,” or “Fremont and Freedom,” are seen inscribed upon hundreds of flags streaming in every breeze, and over every great thoroughfare. They are reiterated, in broad capitals, at the head of thousands and thousands of newspapers. They are shouted with huzzas from tens of thousands of earnest and almost frantic voices. But, Mr Chairman, when the banner-cries of “Buchanan and Breckinridge,” of “ Fremont and Dayton,” shall together have been buried in that oblivion to which their predecessors have already been consigned, or are rapidly hastening, this Free Academy will still remain, the pride, the glo.y, and the blessing of Norwich; silently yet steadily dispensing its benign influences, and causing the hearts of many parents and children to rise up and call its founders blessed. And though this beautiful edifice, constructed as it is of perishable materials may crumble in decay, it will be only to be replaced by another still more commodious, still more beautiful. Such institutions as this will not perish until our freedom of thought and speech is abolished, and our christian civilization shrouded in the night of returning barbarism.
PROFESSOR Noah Porter, of Yale College.
One fact the orator of the day has omitted to mention from a commendable modesty. Though it was noticed by the speaker who preceded me, I will venture to refer to it, and if possible, to give it the
prominence which it merits. It is that the endowment of the Norwich Free Academy is unique and singular and unlike any other. I believe that when all its pecularities are taken into view, it will be proud to stand by itself in the history of endowments for education. If the amount contributed, the number of persons who have been concerned in the enterprise, and the object to which it is devoted are all taken into consideration, it will be found to be unmatched by any similar enterprise. Were I called on to defend my country abroad, I should refer to an act like this, as a noble product of American Institutions. Werel desirous to explain to a circle of intelligent ladies and gentlemen on the continent of Europe what are some of the beneficent results of institutions as free as ours, I should refer to an example like this and say of it, it is one of the things of which our country has no need to be ashamed. It is true many schools of a higher order have been munificently furnished in this country. Wealthy merchants and bankers have given large sums to found public schools in their native towns, and have in this displayed a wise liberality. But here we have a large endowment, furnished in large sums, by a large number of intelligent citizens for the good of the entire community in which they live. They have made the gift free to all, and yet have guarded against its being so common as to seem to be the property of all, and so be neglected or lightly esteemed. The wisdom and the enlarged and elevated views of education with which they have conveyed this trust to the community and to other generations, as well as the beneficent tendency of the gift so wisely guarded while it is freely bestowed, have excited my admiration.
Allow me to enlarge upon one or two of these features. The Institution is to stand midway between the college and the public schools of the town. It will act upon both, as it were upward and downward, and with advantage to each. We who are connected with colleges feel most satisfied and appreciate most earnestly the importance of the best kind of preparatory schools. There is probably no point at which the educational systems of this country labor more and are lamentably weak, than in what may be called the secondary schools; the schools of preparation for the college. We who remain at home know whence our best scholars come. We know indeed and cheerfully testify that there are a few preparatory schools of the highest order, and we know also that the majority of our students are not fitted as they ought to be to pursue our system of study to the best advantage. This deficiency we are forced to supply. This is not our appropiate work. It is not the object for which the colleges were designed. Let this deficiency be supplied, as it may be, and the complaint would be less frequently made than it is that the colleges do not accomplish more. The deficiency, the fault is not with them so often as is said and thought.
The influence of this Free Academy on the public schools of the lown can not but be most efficient and happy. It is pledged to give a higher and better education, to require a higher course of study than the highest public school ; in other words to take the best pupil of the first class in the high school and carry him still farther onward. Every
child who at this moment stands at the threshold of the primary schools of Norwich , has the Free Academy before him, to inspire him to effort-to excite his emulation that he may be allowed to enter it, and be fitted to pursue its course with advantage and success. Its influences will be like that of free or endowed scholarship in the English or Scotch universities. Many a poor boy has been aroused and stimulated to extraordinary zeal and labor by the hope of earning free tuition for a course of years in these universities. Such a stimulus lies before every pupil in the public schools of this town. Every such pupil can hope to earn, by his diligence, free tuition of a high order in various studies, for three continuous years, at the most important period of his youth, nay of his life.
I rejoice that in the course of study prescribed by the founders of this academy, so great prominence is given to the classics. Of the importance of classical study, the views of many persons are vague and unsettled. Most men are taught to esteem them valuable though they can not see how. They submit themselves passively to the necessity which forces them or others to go through the study of Greek or Latin, because these are made a part of a liberal education, but farther than this, they neither judge nor are they convinced. To such it may be suggested that the study of a language must be a study of thought, inasmuch as every language is a product of thought, and in it are recorded the processes and operations of human thinking, even the most subtle and refined. To follow and trace these by the study of any language is an invaluable discipline. To do it in such languages as the Greek and Latin, which are so peculiarly and especially adapted to call out and enforce this discriminating and close analysis, is a discipline which can not be too highly esteemed. Indeed I would boldly advance the position while I stand ready to defend it, anywhere and under any circumstances, that onc great secret of the English common sense-of the preeminent wisdom and directness of the English mind, is to be found in the circumstances that so many of their leading men are trained as they are in the great schools and universities. The simplicity, the distinctness, the disposition to come to the heart of a subject, and to make short speeches, for which the English statesmen and public men are distinguished, are acquired, in no small degree, by the long and exclusive familiarity with the classics, through their school and university life. So important and obvious is the fact, that Dr. Arnold, with his well known zeal for practical uses and results—who declared he would not teach the classics except as he made them to illustrate the history and thinking of modern times, also affirmed that he would scarcely send his son to Oxford, if he could not there study Aristotle, that from Aristotle he might learn practical wisdom and common
I as truly rejoice that provision is to be made for various and liberal courses of study in special departments, which have a direct relation to the practical business and employments of life. Too much must not be expected from such courses of study. It ought not to be thought, that a person can acquire by any special apprenticeship at school, that facility
and skill which can only be gained in actually pursuing the business. It ought not to be expected that a man can go from any school into the counting-house, or upon the quarter-deck, or into a manufacturing or commercial agency, as completely trained as he will and must be by actually learning in the school of practice and of life. But much may be done in the school, and we all know that in such a town as this there are at all times great numbers of youth who have time enough on their hands to study one or two modern languages, drawing, engineering, &c., &c., all of which will be invaluable to them in the practical employments for which they are destined. Let these learn as much as possible of such branches and they will find a higher interest in their calling, and will be qualified to pursue it with greater success; and having acquired all this special preparation that this academy can give him, he will be the better prepared to add the knowledge and skill which can only be learned in actually performing the business on which they enter. Many a business man-many a practical and active citizen will owe all his success to the knowledge and the stimulus which he shall gain within these walls, and will bless as long as he lives the founders of the Norwich Free Academy, as the founders of his.
When the traveler visits Stratford-on-Avon, the birth-place of Shakespeare, he is reminded of the endowed Grammar School which the poet once attended. But he does not so often reflect that he may have owed much to that Grammar School and to those who endowed it. For though Shakespeare may have had "small Latin and less Greek” (more, however, than is usually believed) his wondrous intellect must have been quickened and furnished from his youthfulstudies. Whether the Norwich Free Academy shall ever send forth so wondrous a pupil, may be questioned, but we can not doubt that many shall live to bless the day and the men who have endowed this noble and truly popular institution.
WORTHINGTON Hooker, M. D., Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine in Yale College.
Fellow Citizens of Norwich :- This is no unmeaning form of speech that I use. Though I have for the past four years been a member of another community, the familiar faces that I see before me, many of which were familiar to me during all the twenty-three years of my residence here, make me feel at home among you, and prompt me to address you as my fellow citizens. May I never cease to bear those feelings which shall make it proper for me thus to address you. The interest which I felt in the welfare of this community when a resident among you, abides still, and may it ever abide.
Among the interests which were especially dear to me, when I resided here was the one which has called us together to-day. And as several years ago I stood side by side with some here in a struggle to advance this interest-a struggle which, though manfully maintained, ended in defeat-it gives me great joy to be present to-day, and witness the consummation of a perfect victory in the inauguration of this institution. I love to boast of Norwich, and when I do so there is no one thing that I speak of so often as this enterprise. The noble spirit of its
citizens has been often seen in other efforts, but there seems to be in this, a concentration of all that is liberal and noble and good in the spirit that animates this community. This enterprise has been justly spoken of as peculiar. I know of nothing like it. In some places, it is true, individuals of large wealth have endowed institutions somewhat similar to this; but I know of no other place where citizens have united together to present to the community in which they live, su rich a benefaction.
The philanthropist often pictures to himself the ideal of a perfect community. I mean not the philanthropist that confines his efforts and ideas to some one channel, but the philanthropist that looks at all the interests of a community, political, social, intellectual and moral. In the ideal to which he ever aspires, he sees every agency working out its ends in such a manner as to effect the highest good of every individual in every station. And he sometimes has a foretaste of this ideal state of society. It is such a foretaste that we are enjoying to-day in regard to the educational interests of this community. But joyful as this occasion is, you are, as has been truly said, not at the consummation, but at the outset of this enterprise. Much remains to be done. Improvements are to be made. Education is far from being perfect any where. There are errors in our system of education which must be removed. It is no time now to dilate upon these errors, but there is one that was mentioned in the address, to which I can not forbear briefly to allude. I refer to the prevalent custom of burdening the mind with a great amount of knowledge, while the power of acquiring knowledge is very little cultivated. This error prevails in the whole range of education from the primary school up to the College. I have occasion to lament its prevalence every day in my own experience; for I have the daily task of pouring knowledge for an hour into minds that have been crowded full by four lecturers that have preceded me. Education is to be purged of this and other errors. It will be a slow work, for it is not easy to get rid of long established customs.
And now, in conclusion, let me ask you, fellow-citizens, will you take care of this trust which this company of benefactors now present to you? May we not anticipate that liberality towards this enterprise will not end with what they have done, but that others among you will enter into their labors, and contribute of their substance to supply the wants of this institution as they shall arise, and that this whole community will take such an interest in its prosperity that it shall be attended with a complete and permanent success ?
PRESIDENT Smith, of Wesleyan University.
President Smith responded briefly to the call of the Chairman, by saying, that he came here at some inconvenience to himself, to manifest by his presence, his interest as an officer of a higher school of learning, in the opening of this new institution. He heartily joined in all that had been so well said as to the design and probable influence of this Free Academy, and believed that as an example of enlightened liberality, it would lead to the establishment and endowment of similar schools in other parts of the State.