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ambitious. Elevating to higher advantages, it inspires greater vigilance and resolution in preserving them against the destructive influences by which they are assailed. It opens the eyes of all more fully to the dangers which threaten them, and teaches them bow to escape them. The evils which we have referred to, with others not named, make all the counteracting influences which can be gathered and employed, important and necessary, in order to save our institutions and government from destruction. Though education, therefore, contain pot the highest antagonist power, yet, having valuable conservative principles, and exerting a valuable influence against the peculiar evils growing up in our state of society, all its aid should be contributed to the noble purpose. And American teachers should ever remember that in diffusing and improving general education, they perform essential service in preserving this nation from ruin, and, for this reason, hold the place and act the part of the highest responsibility.
Closing here what I have to say directly upon the literary responsibility of teachers, and especially of American teachers, it remains that I make a distinct appeal to them now in behalf of the education of the children of the United States, and also remind thein of the high motives and encouragements to fidelity and zeal which are opened around them.
The discussion itself of the subject before me shall be the ground of my appeal.
If the general benefits arising from the improvement of the mass of mind, have been fairly represented here, as also the peculiar feasibility and value of it under our institutions, then should endeavors immediately be made tooraise the standard of ordinary attainment in all our schools. Let what has been done heretofore be no pattern for the teachers of the present generation, and no measure of their responsibility. There is a wider distance in the business of education between actual attainment and attainableness, between what is actually accomplished and what is easy as well as necessary to be done, than exists in reference to any other object of human pursuit and interest, except morals and religion. The actual amount of knowledge and the actual mental condition of the children of the country, when left by their teachers and thrown out upon society may be quickly stated. Their medium attainments will be found to include reading, writing, spelling of common words, geography, English gramınar, penmanship, arithmetic, sometimes in addition, a slight smattering of rhetoric and natural philosophy. Their reading is far from being perfect. The unambitious sentences of Addison and the lofty diction of Johnson, the dry simplicity of Swift and the fervid strains of Patrick Henry, are uttered with nearly the same rapidity, and much in the same tone and spirit. Their orthography is often incorrect; their hand-writing is legible and decent; their geography consists mostly of mere topography and some soon forgotten statistics relating to population, square miles, latitude and longitude, exports and imports. Their English grammar is exceedingly defective, consisting of some parrot-taught facility in parsing, with very little idea of the construction and power of the English tongue; their arithmetic consists of a knowledge of the rules and practical operations in the common books, up to and through the "Rule of Three,” together with some acquaintance with book-keeping, and the quickly lost processes of extracting the square and cube root. This is the ordinary sum of attainments, at the age of twelve or fifteen years. If some pursue other branches and exceed these acquisitions, more, probably fall below them. Intellectual discipline and developement are scarcely thought of in our primary schools. The memory is chiefly tasked, the reasoning powers are but slightly exercised, and the habit of close application, and the patience of intense thought, so indispensable to mental improvement and power, but rarely acquired. · Let it not be inferred, however, that these attainments are of small consequence; they are invaluable. They exert a vast influence upon all the dearest interests of the community and country. They form an important portion of those advantages and possessions which distinguish a civilized and refined, from a barbarous and degraded people. Let the fact, so confidently asserted, be heartily admitted, that elementary education is farther advanced in New England and some few other sections of the country, than in any other part of the world, not excepting Scotland and Prussia. This allusion to the attainments made in our primary schools is introduced here not to depreciate them, but to show their incompetency to the wants of a people performing such important duties and holding such high places of power and influence as do all American citizens. The allusion is made for the purpose also of making an appeal to the teachers of our country to set up a higher standard of elementary education, and put forth their best ened to him of Macedon. Let teachers feel entirely satisfied with their employment; it is worthy the ambition of the greatest men. There is but one higher service for man or angel; the cultivation of the heart, the moulding of the moral nature into likeness of character to the infinite Father of the universe.
In reference to the interests of our own country, no position can be more honorable than that which is held by American teachers. Our national character, our escape from imminent dangers, the duration of our free institutions, our thrift, wealth, power, and happiness, in an important degree are dependent upon the education and intelligence which they have the privilege of diffusing among the people. Our public affairs at this moment are at a most important crisis. Among the wise and good, every eye is now turned to the school-houses and schoolteachers of the country, for conservative influences. There may not be wanting many strong ebullitions of national feeling among us. All over the land the morning of each fourth day of July may thunder forth from the cannon's mouth the enthusiasm of fourteen millions of people on the subject of freedom. Our legislative assemblies may vie with each other in ardent professions of patriotism ; the spirit of seventy-six may be industriously implanted and cherished around every fire-side in the country; still, without the school-master abroad, our career of freedom and prosperity would be quickly closed, and our brilliant prospects be shut out by as dark a night as that which has set upon the glory of all former republics. The aid which teachers may contribute to preserve the privileges and possessions of this great and free people, is certainly a most valuable and most honorable service. It is pleasant to me to recollect that I am in the old “Bay State," where this matter has always been so regarded. Here have risen men, of whom the world was not worthy, who, by the enlightened principles which they held and diffused abroad, not only moulded society and government into their best forms, but provided for their permanency by providing with special care and liberality for the education of the whole people. I can now almost hear the pilgrims, and my blood grows warm as I remember that my ancestor. landed from the Mayflower, and that the first born of the Plymouth colony is only six generations before me. I can almost hear the Pilgrim Fathers and their early successors administering to us a stern rebuke for neglecting that education of the popular mind, to which, except religion, they gave their best love and richest charities, their earliest labor and latest prayer. Let American school-teachers turn to all that has been done by the great dead to earn for us our inheritance. In addition to their efforts in behalf of popular education, let them recollect their toils and sacrifices, their unrewarded efforts in council, and their struggles in the field of death, and then count it all honor to enter into their labors and carry out their far-sighted and benevolent plans. Let them render themselves worthy of those from whom they are descended, by their intelligent and sustained and efficient efforts to educate the general mind, and to remove away the vast mass of ignorance which now sits like an incubus on the nation's heart, and suppresses its breath.
The teachers of this portion of the United States hold a place of peculiar importance and honor. New England is a nursery for the whole country. She settles many portions of it almost exclusively ; she sprinkles her population over the entire breadth of the land. She is yet to be the mother of new states, and a large contributor to old ones. Her schoolmasters should be aware that in consequence of this, they occupy a high position, which enables them by educating the enigrating population of New England, to form the intellectual character eventually of more than half of these United States. Who ought to desire a station more honorable and useful ? Who are called to act under the influence of nobler motives and encouragements ?
The relation in which this country is placed to other nations, elevates American teachers to a still more commanding position. The experience of the world hitherto is against the duration and success of republics. Every civilized people and every crowned head is turned to us to learn what shall be the destiny of ours. Whatever aid American teachers shall contribute in conducting the grand experiment, which this country is making in the face of the world in the event of its success, will be a most important service to mankind. Should the experiment prove to be a failure, it will be a splendid one, and if teachers shall be faithful to their important trust, they will still enjoy the consciousness of having done what they could in a noble sphere of duty. But the experiment will not fail. Our free institutions will continue, and our people continue to enjoy under them unparalleled prosperity. By and by they deavors to push our children and youth much further forward in the studies already pursued, and to extend their inquiries in every direction. Certainly an alluring and accessible field may be opened to our children on every side. Besides advancing them in their present pursuits, let them be made more acquainted with the earth on which they live; with the materials of which it is composed, and the changes it has experienced; with its rocks, minerals, soils, and fossil races of plants and animals; with the different features of its several countries, and different character and modes of life of its various tribes and nations. Let them be taught something of the states, constituents and uses of the air which they breathe, as also something of the laws of light, and heat, and attraction, which are concerned in all their affairs and happiness. Let them be informed how latitude and longitude are ascertained, deserts traversed, seas and oceans sailed over, and the ends of the world brought together. Let them be led on into the plain, practical and valuable facts of christianity, natural philosophy and astronomy. Let them be made thoroughly acquainted with the history of their own country, its singular fortune, its great men, the spirit of its institutions, its enterprise, trade, growth, its sources of safety and duration. Let them study their own being, their outward structure and inward spirit. Let them be taught their various relations, their proper position, their indispensable duties, at home, at school, in the family, in the community, in the world, in the universe. All this, and more, is perfectly practicable. The works of Dr. Dick, if they are superficial, as has been alleged, most happily and conclusively shew how these important and interesting inquiries may be pursued successfully by the children of common schools, if only aided and allured as they may be. The world owes him thanks that he has come down among juvenile and ignorant minds, and shown them how easily the boundaries which have limited their studies may be passed over, and what precious treasures may be gathered on the other side. The accessible field yet untrodden by our children is a broad and glorious one. I appeal to American teachers to lead them out and forth among its interesting objects, and to habituate them, in a world of wonders as they are, to question nature for themselves and listen intelligently to her responses.