Page images

their years, are now undergoing the searching ordeal of the most severe and probing scrutiny, and, if not founded upon sound reason, are scattered as the chaff of the summer threshing floor. They are yielding to the progress of mental illumination.

Man is rising to the proper dignity of his nature; the powers of tyranny cannot prevent, though they may retard the final result. Too much must not be expected by the sanguine; and because others do not view the signs of the times as we do, either as favorable or unfavorable to the virtues which enoble humanity, we should not too hastily condemn, or too hastily adopt the views which may be started by the bold and enterprising enquirer. We should ever carry with us, into all investigations, a sound discretion and discriminating judgment.

We shall conclude our remarks on this interesting subject, upon the threshold of which we have just arrived, with the following eloquent extract from Guizot's History of Civilization in Europe, pp. 34, 35.

“We must, however, take care not to deliver ourselves up too fully to a notion of our happiness and our improved condition. It may lead us into two serious evils, pride and inactivity ; it may give us an overweening confidence in the power and success of the human mind, of its present attainments; and, at the same time dispose us to apathy, enervated by the agreeableness of our condition. I know not if this strikes you as it does me, but in my judgment we continually oscillate between an inclination to complain without sufficient cause, and to be too easily satisfied. We have an extreme susceptibility of mind, an inordinate craving, an ambition in our thoughts, in our desires, and in the movements of our imaginations; yet when we come to practical life, when trouble, when efforts are required for the attainment of our object, we sink into lassitude and inactivity. We are discouraged almost as easily as we had been excited. Let us not, however, suffer ourselves to be invaded by either of these views. Let us estimate fairly what our abilities, our knowledge, our power enable us to do lawfully; and let us aim at nothing that we cannot lawfully, justly, prudently, with a proper regard to the great principles upon which our social system, our civilization is based, attain. The age of barbarian Europe, with its brute force, its violence, its lies and deceit,—the habitual practice under which Europe groaned during four or five centuries, is passed away for ever, and has given place to a better order of things. We trust that the tiine now approaches when man's condition shall be progressively improved by the force of reason and truth, when the brute part of nature shall be crushed, that the godlike spirit may unfold. In the meantime let us be cautious that no vague desires, that no extravagant theories, the time for which may not yet be come, carry us beyond the bounds of prudence, or beget in us a discontent with our present state. To us much has been given, of us much will be required. Posterity will demand a strict account of our conduct; the public, the government, all is open to discussion, to examination. Let us then attach ourselves firmly to the principles of our civilization, to justice, to the laws, to liberty ; and never forget, that, if we have the right to demand that all things shall be laid open before us, we likewise are before the world, who will examine us, and judge us according to our works.”

ART. I.-1. A System of Latin Prosody and Metre, from

the best authorities, ancient and modern, by CHARLES ANTHON, L.L.D. 12mo. New York: Harper & Brothers.

1841. 1 vol. 2. The Traveller's Companion, for conversation, being

a selection of such expressions as occur frequently in travelling, and in the different situations of life, by MADAME DE GENLIS, in six languages,-English, German, French, Italian, Polish and Russian, 4th Edition, 12mo. Lepsic: printed for J. C. Henrichs. 1814.

1 vol. 3. Corderii, Colloquiorum Centuria Selecta : in Usum

Tironum, Editio Portsmuthiensis, Edita Carolo Tappan Portsmuthie, in Republica Neo-Hantonia. 12mo. 1810. 1 vol.

Education, a hacknied theme, a worn-out subject, a topic on which ninety-nine men, out of a hundred, utter more inanities than any other in the whole range of human knowledge,-education, a term understood by scarcely any man who scribbles upon it, though he may know it is derived from two Latin words, and yet not appreciate its full force and meaning, a word whose height, depth and breadth compass the basis of every earthly philosophy,-education, --what is it? It is the very life blood of our bodily and mental existence, the pabulum of the soul, mind and body. It is the tree of knowledge, from whose fruit we are fed from our birth to our death. Without it, man could not be what he is. From the hour that we are ushered into this breathing world, we cry for education, we cry to be led out of the shades of ignorance, we crave for knowledge, though we know it not, we struggle to be something, while we are nothing, we strive to know. Every breath of air that blows upon our infant limbs, educates them; every object of which our infantile senses become cognizant, educates those senses, teaches them, and the mind, thus reached, exerts a power over the body and itself, that it would not otherwise be capable of exerting.

Education begins at the beginning. It is a blind impulse, in the first years of infancy, so far as the recipient of influences is concerned; but they, who are the immediate instruments of existence, direct and control that education, some with judgment, some with error of judgment, and some,-by far the greater part of our parents,—by merely taking care that no personal harm is done to their children, and leaving the rest to the dictates of nature, and the influence of surrounding example.

It is education, in our humble opinion, which constitutes the very great difference between children of different families ; nay, even of the same family. We take it, that all children are born with equal powers of mind, but that the influences of education immediately destroy that equality of mental powers, because, there are no two influences of education alike. The mother of a first son, or first daughter, will educate that child differently from her second son or daughter. External influences, over which the parent has no control, will cause, too, a great difference in the mental calibre of the first second or third child. There is no parent who will assert, that his or her feelings for each successive child, were precisely the same. The education of children depends, largely, upon the state of feelings of the parent, and upon outward circumstances; and hence, some of the powerful causes which produce what is commonly styled differences of intellect between the progeny of the same family. If this position be true, as we have no doubt it is, it is no wonder that no two children, of different families, are alike in mental or physical qualities.

Education is too often, limited in its signification, to book


This is one reason why so much difference of opinion prevails about systems of education.

The most important part of a child's education consists in the bringing of him up, as we commonly say, from infancy to the time when we put books in his hands, or begin to teach him his alphabet. It is that portion of his education which forms, in a great measure, the basis of his character. The temper and disposition of the mother and father, their position in life, the pursuits of the father, the climate in which the child is born, the proximity to, or distance from, neighboring children, the prospects and future hopes of the parents, their religion, morals and politics, the form of government under which they live, the description of prejudices prevailing,—all these are powerful elements in every child's education. They are the influences which bend the tender twig. They are the considerations which induced the sage of Israel to say: "Bring up a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart from it."

O, nursery education, powerful instrument for good or evil,—who can estimate thy influences, who can tell the destinies which thou has chalked out for the helpless mortals whose fate is in thy hands; who can describe thy tyranny over the weak and trembling and pliant nerves and muscles of the little ones of thy dominion ? None,-no not

Thou art the creator of human worlds. The clay is placed in thy hands, and is moulded to suit thy fancies and caprices.

We intend not to drag you, kind reader, through all the mazes of a nursery education, through all the labyrinths of the education of children, from the day they are born to that in which a book is first placed in their hands. Our object, so far, has been to correct a common error as to the meaning of the term, education; to show you that it has a more extensive signification; that it is the great lever of the progress of the social system; that its power and influences begin with our birth, and end only with our life; that it is the philosophy of philosophies, because all human knowledge, all hunian art, all human achievements, depend upon it; that the world is nothing without it; that the human character is but as potter's clay in its creative hands. At nother time, we may return to this important branch of 3

VOL. 1.-NO 2.


our subject,—the education of children up to the time when we begin to teach them the knowledge that is to be gained from books, with a view to show how generally false is the system which now prevails in that respect. It is a glorious theme, and one which we shall not neglect, when an opportunity offers.

The child, when it is required to learn its alphabet, has been taught to speak its maternal“ tongue. It has acquired the habit of speech, and its wants dictate the words which are sought for by its infantile mind. It has made an immense stride in the field of human knowledge. How, we ask, was this point achieved ? By teaching the child the art of analyzing things; of analyzing words? No. By teaching the child to imitate sounds, and to connect them with visible and tangible objects; by showing the child how to make the transition from things to abstractionsa very slow and difficult process, confined in the beginning to very simple truths and reflections. This process of educating a child in its maternal language, is forced upon the parent by necessity, and the object is gained in the shortest possible time ; but, strange to say, the moment that book knowledge is to be imparted to the child, this simple and plain and philosophical system is departed from, and the young and tender mind is required to analyze every object, every thing presented to it, with the rigor of a schoolman, with the severity of a Thomas Aquinas. If the child were required to confine itself to the analysis of its mother tongue, for the first three or four years after it acquired its Ā B C, the labor, though severe, would not be entirely lost, because the subject

to be analyzed would, at least, be familiar to the youthful mind, because it would have something to work upon. But we cannot restrain our indignation at the follies of parents, who permit their children to be tortured by ignorant and self-conceited tutors, who force them to the study of a dead language, through the painful process of analysis, at so early an age. It is wicked to subject the tender mind to such a torture, to such violence, so to outrage all the laws of nature in these things, to throw away the valuable time of youthhood in such a mad pursuit. Were the teachers of the noble, high-sounding tongue of old Rome, capable of speaking it, capable of digging it up from the grave, of disrobing it

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »