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common education, we may also indulge the hope that better times are at hand. During the last session of our legislature, the attention of the government was aroused to the importance of this subject, and a Board of Commissioners of Common Schools was appointed, consisting of ten distinguished citizens, whose duty it is to report to the legislature on the existing state of the common schools, - to suggest plans of improvement — and to appoint a secretary, who shall devote his whole time, if necessary, “to ascertain the condition, increase the interest, and promote the usefulness of common schools.” Such an officer has been already appointed, whose exertions, seconded by those of the Board, and sustained by the voice of the community, now beginning to feel the need of reform in our school system, will produce a happy era in our State.
Among the many branches of science to which the attention of the young is directed, there are few, if any, which, when judiciously pursued, and faithfully applied, exert a more powerful influence in the cultivation of thought than the science of language. Grammar, as this science is technically called, has ever been considered a subject worthy of the attention of the most enlightened intellects which have dawned on the republic of letters; and even in the brightest days of imperial Rome, many privileges were granted by the emperors to those who cultivated the science. A subject which has engaged the attention of a Varro, which has diverted a Cicero from the forum, a Cæsar from the camp, and a Messala from the enjoyment of his consular dignities, may well be ranked among the noblest objects of human regard.
The value of this science as a branch of education, is not to be estimated solely by the assistance which it affords in the correct expression of our thoughts; although such is the imperfection of language, that in the construction of the written laws and constitution of a country, the happiness, the welfare, and even the safety of an individual may be hazarded by the slightest violation of grammatical rule. Valuable as the science may be as an interpreter of the intentions of the law, and as a guide to the meaning of every form of expression, a greater benefit is derived from the exercise which it affords the various
powers of the youthful mind, and its tendency to strengthen its respective powers individually. It is not the memory alone which it addresses. It calls each of the faculties into action, and affords to each an exercise suited precisely to its nature. Geography may exercise the memory; the mathematics inay call forth the powers of reasoning and comparison; rhetoric may entertain the imagination ; history may claim the faculty of association ; while the philosophy of nature may employ the powers of abstraction, and analysis ; — but it is reserved for Grammar to furnish a field where each and all of these faculties may be singly, and unitedly exerted, and each may wield its separate and united strength.
How important, then, is it, that a conspicuous rank should be conceded to the science of Grammar, among the branches of elementary education. How valuable is that science, which, while it stores the mind with useful information, giving precision and ductility to the vehicles of thought, at the same time draws a line of distinction between the rude and illiterate, and the cultivated and refined ; and affords the necessary exercise for those faculties by which human nature is exalted above the brutes that perish.
“ The human mind,” in the words of the most polished writer of our language,“ is like marble in the quarry, which shows none of its inherent qualities, until the skill of the polisher fetches out its colors, makes the surface shine, and discovers every ornamental cloud spot and vein that runs through the body of it.” It is this science which performs the work of the polisher; and to this science we are mainly indebted for that beauty, brightness, and perfection which we have witnessed in the exertions of intellect.
But the mind is not a simple homogeneous thing ; — like the body, it is made up of various powers and faculties, each of which is separately, although perhaps unconsciously exerted and called into action by the various subjects which are presented to it. The closest analogy exists between the intellectual and the corporal faculties; and as the limbs of the body acquire strength, and ease, and gracefulness by use and exercise, so likewise the powers of the mind are invigorated by being called into action. This is a consideration which is not fully weighed by all to whom the business of education is committed. To occupy the mind; to engage it in the acquisition of knowledge ; to send it in quest of the treasures of science; to interest it in the flights of fancy and imagination, or to enter