Изображения страниц

but it points to others more distant and more glorious still.

The education which is denounced, because wholly secular, requires some little notice. Does such exist in our country? Does that deserve this description, which is found associated with the most anti-evangelical communities? Is there the school in which is found no inspired verse? Is not morality infused into the reading-lesson and copy-book? If the infidel has his educational institution, it is, we know, for irreligion: we include it not in the defence: though, even in it, the probability is, that truth, sobriety, and kindness, will be inculcated.

The question has been violently agitated, Whether education can be properly scriptural, which only recognises selections from Scripture. We think it may be right to teach a part of Divine Revelation, when we are not suffered to teach the whole. We practically, where the entire volume is the reading book of the school, do very mainly use it in sections. None would wish it to be read indiscriminately and consecutively by children of all the classes and forms. Happy, at least, are they who are free to act in these choices for themselves! Nor are we disposed to offer one excuse for those who, in order to promote the most flattering schemes of universal education, enter into a compromise, the conditions of which shall be the employment of Scripture with a corrupt text and fraudulent translation!

The necessity of Female education is unjustly overlooked in most of these general enquiries. But it is not, in any view, of inferior importance. The future mothers of a people are the best protectresses of a State from moral deterioration. Let them be trained as thinking beings. The female intellect only wants culture to establish its strict equality. But there are domestic virtues which specially adorn the sex. The house-wife is woman's proudest name. The home is her peculiar sphere. Honourable is her distaff: as honourable her careful management and thrift. It is plain for what sphere she should be instructed. Deeply is it to be deplored when the blooming girl is, by the calls of want, diverted from these duties. They should be early commenced, and as often as possible resumed. Then the regulations and arts of other employment may not be useless. They will supply the means of independence, if woman's common lot be not fulfilled. They will impress habits of self-denial and industry. They will afford an experience, whose fruits may be most wholesome, and which shall set homestead joys in the most enviable view. But they have too frequently a contrary influence. They bring many snares. Their principal evil, if it can be shown to be true, is a tendency to disqualify for the obligations of wedded life. To this we know there is ready answer: we doubt whether it be quite satisfactory. We cannot be forced from this conclusion, that there is no subject of education, so fitting, so deserving, so influential,

as the female : that there is no instrument of raising man to contentment, peacefulness, sobriety, and all human responsibilities, as the educated female : and that there is no such created source of holy power in this world as may be found in the example of the educated female, bearing on her the noble distinctions of wife, mother, and Christian | When the cottages of our land shall thus be blest, we may hope that the sullen tyrant of the family will be softened by love, and the vilest wanderer be reclaimed to the sweet bonds of household allegiance The Science of popular education has made great advances within a few short years. We are not sanguine that the classics and mathematics could be taught in any other way than they were acquired of old. But more intelligence might accompany and direct the lessons. The pupil might be more drawn out and be treated as a more reasoning learner. And this is done with the peasant child. His attention is awakened and his mind is interested. He is almost betrayed into knowledge. The truly illustrious discoverers, Bell and Lancaster, introduced the reciprocal and monitorial system, which is one process of intellectual elimination. He who sees in it a mechanical and automatic exhibition, has yet to understand human nature. It is mind exciting mind, and evolving mind. It is mind informing itself. Like some natural agent, it contains a twofold power, -as the expansion of heat or the electricity of light.

[ocr errors]

It cannot be denied, that the character of the schoolmaster is very low and unworthy in this country. We refuse not many high exceptions. From the respective normal establishments, men of qualified tastes and habits are beginning to diffuse themselves through society. But until of late, Who were the teachers of our youth 2 The learned, who had been trained to this duty 2 The devoted, who felt their delight in this task? The ranks were filled with the bankrupt, not only of fortune but as often of principle. The office was considered the last anchor-hold of every wreck. Schools must necessarily degenerate beneath such care. Learning could not be contemplated. Morality was scarcely breathed. A whining pity was heard to plead for the misfortunes of these instructors. Censure was deprecated. Enquiry was debarred. Neighbourhoods were canvassed to help them. Certificates were good-naturedly subscribed. And thus, race of pupils after race was surrendered to a wretched imbecility and drivelling. Such persons were a disgrace to their calling and a pest to their land. They corrupted and wasted youth. Often might it have been wished that the scholars had received the power which Camillus gave to the boys of the Falisci, when he commanded them to scourge the traitor-paedagogue, who would have betrayed them, back to his home.*

And in stating the kind of information required by the working classes, the most sacred regard must be manifested toward conscience. It must be allowed that men have spoken of the poor as materials to be worked up into any religious profession. And education has been made to act this tyrannic part. It has been refused to all who would not subscribe to particular formulary, or bow in particular rite. It has been bribe to the timid, it has been penalty upon the firm. Often it has been put beyond the attainment of many, if they would not forswear the faith of their fathers and renounce their own. Is there not danger of demanding this compromise in the very extension of education ? Distinct denominations of religionists are beginning to devise methods of meeting the wants of the people. The probability is, that numerous schools will shortly arise among us, more sectarian—the epithet is not employed invidiously—than have hitherto existed. Every place of worship may set up one as its proper appendage. These will be indebted to their own com: munities. A corresponding impress will be stamped upon each. This is natural and unavoidable. The place of worship and the school will have one doctrine. But general education is a good. Should you fetter its possession by any pledge of religious conformity ? Many may need that education, who are not of that religious enrolment: it may be that they cannot elsewhere obtain it. Will you deny it them 2 Teach them, over whom you have just control or admitted influence, all you believe, even to its particle : but

* Livius, lib. v. cap. 27.

refuse not to teach them, whom you cannot thus sway

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »