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Agloomy wilderness of dying thought-
EVENING PRAYER AT A GIRL'S SCHOOL.
Hush! 'tis a holy hour—the quiet room
Of hope make melody where e'er ye tread;
NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
Whoever has looked deeply into the interior of the ancient republics, will discover the origin of their dissolution, in the neglected education of the youth. We are dazzled by the splendor of some shining characters, which appear in the decline of most of the popular governments of former times, and this circumstance sometimes leads to an erroneous inference in favour of the high mental improvement of the majority of the people. A large majority of the Grecians, in the time of Demosthenes, and by far the greater part of the Romans, under Augustus, were entirely uneducated. This prepared them for despotism. Tyranny raises her iron sceptre over ignorance ; liberty rests on knowledge. For knowledge is power, and liberty, founded on such power, is the purest liberty; but without this, it soon degenerates into licentiousness.Sound knowledge expands the mind, strengthens virtue, enlarges the sphere of liberty, and is in fact its
The understanding, like the soil, is softened, improved and rendered fertile, by constant and industrious cultivation, that is, by learning and thinking; while it becomes hard and sterile by negligence. A solid and liberal education, therefore, guided by religious and moral sentiment, is the most invaluable boon that a country can confer on her youth. In our own country, universal education will contribute more than any thing else, to stay the powerful currents of
national jealousy; to strengthen the ties and confirm the pledges of mutual friendship and harmony, which arise from our history, our institutions, and our prospects. What then can be of greater moment for an age of public tranquillity and domestic happiness, than to improve and to diffuse the means of education ?What more worthy of imitation than the example of our fathers in the early ages of New England, who, relying upon the sound principle, that the maintenance of good literature tended most to the advancement of the flourishing state of societies and republics, secured, by law, a hundred and sixty years ago, the blessing of public instruction for their children ; and appropriated a considerable part of their means for the purpose of popular education. With the early institutions of the schools in New England, the foundation of her liberties was laid. The same cause produced the same effect in other countries. What fuel nourished the flame of liberty, in the breasts of the modern Grecians, before it burst into a general conflagration? It is a matter of recent observation, that large numbers of high minded Grecians, after the bloody contest of Europe against the power of Napoleon had come to an issue, were seen in the Italian and German universities, gathering the seeds of knowledge, to be sown in the new schools, established in various parts of their own country, the fruits of which the ignorant Turk did not foresee. What else but the irresistible
power of liberal ideas, kindling in the heart of Europe, and calling exasperated nations to arms, annihilated the unconquered forces of Napoleon ? It was with reason he looked with an eye of jealousy upon the numerous literary institutions of Germany. They were more dangerous to him than her military array. Several of them sunk, in consequence of the innovation, which his policy led him to force upon them ; while those which survived them, kept alive the principle of resistance in those disastrous times, when armies were routed, when courts were struck with perplexity and despair. The rapid exchange of generous ideas given to the world as common property, through the medium of the public prints, and gaining vigour from the personal intercourse of men of different countries; the highly improved state of navigation, the great facilities of travelling, the universal interests of commerce,-all these causes have already been too powerful in their operation on civil society, and have produced a spirit too liberal, to be ever again subjected to the sway of absolute power. In this condition, the decrepid body politic of Europe may enjoy general prosperity under constitutional Kings, while the western hemisphere rejoices in the blooming youth of her popular institutions, for the enjoyment of which Europe is probably too old.