Page images

uneasy ; solemnizes the frolicksome, and prepares a whole school, by the magic of its influence, for communion with God in prayer. This, this alone, would be the pearl of great price. This alone should authorize its introduction into every little community of children throughout the land. Let a school unite in deep and earnest supplication for the blessing of that Father who careth for children, and, by the assurances of His holy word, that school shall be blessed. And who shall dare to warrant to any labor, success, which the heart hath not petitioned of Him who alone can direct the issues of every adventure ?

These advantages are not enumerated without consideration. They are not like Xenophon's portrait of Cyrus, rather a sketch of something which ought to be, than of what is. But let it be distinctly understood that they are not supposed to possess this moral efficacy unallied with any other means of discipline, nor as a substitute for all means. If a teacher cannot govern his school without them, it would be too much to say that he could do so with them. Let them not, therefore, be over-estimated.

There are other advantages of a different kind, but of no inconsiderable value. The exercise of lungs required in singing, is by every physician pronounced healthy. It is even stated to have occasionally removed incipient disease. It gives strength and flexibility to the vocal organs, and more than is readily perceived, imparts freedom and accuracy to utterance. It helps to remove the common nasal expression so peculiarly disagreeable in speech, and operates as an invaluable aid to good reading. Those who have learned most accurately to distinguish between musical sounds, can be made, other things being equal, the best elocutionists. The three least effective readers in the first class of the Hawes School, are the three least interested in music. And the most brilliant, and correct, and pathetic readers of both sexes are, without exception, those who have advanced farthest in music.

Again, it is expedient to teach the rising generation music, because it is a source of innocent and enduring happiness, -a happiness that begins in childhood and expires only with the breath. For the love of music is not a thing to be satiated at one feast, however bountiful. It is an appetite which grows by what it feeds on. It sits down with a keener relish at every successive banquet. The ear that is dead to every other mortal sound, listens, even at the threshold of the tomb, to strains of familiar melody. The last tear which can trickle from the fountains of the soul, will glisten beneath the drooping lid, as some favorite air comes gently upon the departing spirit.

And this is not the least important view which may be taken of this branch of our subject. Children and men seek for present happiness. They will find something that resembles it, or strive so to do, at all hazards. And in the effort for its attainment, what self-delusion, what sin, what folly, are exhibited! What misery is endured! This desire for happiness, or as the word would be correctly interpreted, for pleasurable excitement, is natural ; it cannot be repressed; it must therefore be guided. And he who should furnish to mankind any innocent means for the gratification of this longing, is in no small degree the benefactor of his race. The inventor of chess did more by his ingenious and profound game than to supply a monarch's fastidious taste with new ineans of enjoyment.

So it is with music. In every condition in life it ministers a most innocent means of contentment and delight. Children, instead of roaming away from the parental roof, will, when taught to sing, linger for hours together around the mother's knee, piping a choral treble. Nothing will so soon keep them from mischief and danger. Pupils in a school will knot together, and will pass a recess or other leisure time in singing, in preference to any other amusement. Young men will and do club together and meet evening after evening, and practice music; and this amidst the allurements of the theatre, the barroom, the gaming table, and the brothel. Music gives them, I have seen it and felt it, a moral stability, and a disrelish for the grosser and polluting pleasures, which nothing else could give ; and it has this additional recommendation, that it costs nothing. It is not, like other pleasures, an extravagant one. And this feature alone should entitle it to the consideration of the wise, more especially when it is remembered that the vast bulk of the community are poor ; – they need recreation, but they cannot pay for it. Were this truth more deeply felt, much of the fraud and dishonesty of apprentices and dependents of the rich, might be prevented.

This happiness which a power to sing creates, pervades every fibre of the body politic, not indeed perceptibly, (the action of the vital fluids of the human system are not visible,

hardly understood,) but yet, without question, considerably influencing the entire character of a people.

Look at Germany. Suppose that the power of producing or enjoying vocal or instrumental harmony, which universal instruction has imparted to the whole people, were suddenly annihilated. Not the devastation of an invading army would be more dreadful, than such a measure. There is no enthusiasm or madness in the prediction, that such a circumstance would shake to its foundations the firmest principality in the realm; nay, make the very fabric of the empire itself, to tremble to its centre.

And the reason of this is evident. After the labors of each day are done, which is, with every German, about mid-afternoon, something must be done with the time. There must be universal action, recreation ; — for a nation will not go to sleep before the sun sinks, nor then. How shall this time so capable of abundant good or ill, be employed ? Go through the streets of the most bustling metropolis, or the most retired hamlet, and you find your answer. From every family circle; from every concert room ; upon every verdant lawn, and at every public corner, music bursts upon the ear;- you hear the well-according instruments — the chime of merry voices. The grave discussion is diversified by the cheering chorus ; the angry passions allayed by the jovial catch. And at their labors the same animating genius presides. No toil that is not sweetened with music. Market women and dairy-maids, philosophers and artizans, lull themselves with song. The husbandman sings at his plough; the mechanic over his anvil and lap-stone; the grazier with his herds ; the tradesman at his counter; the pilgrim upon the high-way. Not so among us. Our sturdy farmer will toil the live-long day, but he will be as mute as the oaks around him. Go where you will, the sounds of thrift and business may meet your ear, but the song that springs from a heart contented, patient, happy, is seldom heard. The clatter of machinery; the hum and whiz of wheels and spindles; the general bustle and tumult of an ingenious, energetic, scheming, hard-working community, are unrelieved by anything like the outpourings of the soul. All is cold, selfish, worldly.

The first drawn picture is not too highly colored. Such scenes as those described must be witnessed by every traveller through Germany. And now destroy this charm, and you strike at the root of public tranquillity and happiness. You extinguish their sun, and all is discordant jostling and wrangling in the dark. Now look upon the picture. See the bands of wandering and bloated revellers. Hear the curses of inebriation. Witness the disquietude of the anxious family; the defilement of innocence ; the degradation of integrity and purity; the ribaldry of the scoffer; the crowded bars of justice; the assembling mobs; the public defiance of the law; the departing morals, peace and happiness of the community, and then justify me in the assertion, that the emperor upon bis

And may tremble in the ascend happ

And from such public and social evils as these, wherever found, a universally diffused spirit of music would, better than anything else, save us. Nothing, sooner than this, would subdue and humanize the ferocious, the appalling, the growing mob spirit of our community. You may say, rather teach morality, and inculcate self-restraint. Let these do their work. But they cannot do all. Indeed the measure which we propose does teach morality; for that which withdraws the mind from vicious indulgences, and prevents the development of sinful and destructive appetites, does inculcate positive excellence.

Music not only hallows and refines the pure and nobler sentiments, but it subdues the mildest and softens the flintiest heart. The desperate resolve of the assassin, the malignity of the incendiary, all the dark desires and mischievous purposes of the soul, may, for the time, at least, be lulled asleep by music; and innocence and happiness take the place of depravity and wretchedness. This influence, acting upon individual hearts, will, at length, affect a community, perceptibly, strongly and permanently. And such, we maintain, will be the result in our own land. True, indeed, all cannot be accomplished in a minute, or a year, or a generation. But what philanthropist limits his hopes and labors to that which is before his eyes? Who that longs and prays for the happiness of the race, circumscribes his aspirations by the narrow bounds of the present age or present generation? It is nobler views of education that I would inspire, if I could; higher and farther reaching estimates of the value of the human soul. I speak to a congregation of teachers ; of appointed guides of the destinies of thousands. And I would urge the conviction that the influence of no precept you enforce, no word you utter, is bounded in it extent by school-house walls, or limited in its duration to the hours of daily session. No! - you are educating immortals! Your sphere is infinity! Your limit, eternity! Your vocation, tremendous thought !- to fit souls for blessedness and heaven !

Let not then, my friends, this view which I have presented of the expediency of introducing vocal music into our schools, be thought too high for inspection, or 100 wide for comprehension. Look high and you shall see it; look far and you shall discern it. It is to me, the most animating of all the prospective benefits of this proposed measure, for it is the means of promoting purity, innocence, and the true and only proper enjoyment of mankind, - that which is unattended by moral or spiritual degradation.

I feel that I must, already, have wearied your patience, but I cannot dismiss the subject here. I pass over, with regret, many minor advantages, and come to the consideration of a most important aspect of our subject, namely, its bearing upon the worship of God. I would solicit your kindness while I attempt, very briefly, to defend the expediency of musical instruction, by regarding it as all important to us as religious beings.

Probably no means could be devised, more efficacious to produce holy, and tender, and reverential feeling, than music, if fitly conducted, and at fit tiines and occasions. To cultivate and develop such emotions in the human heart, is one grand object of social worship, and of all arbitrary forms and accomplishments of a religious nature. Man's invention may devise external symbols. He may construct " the long drawn aisle and fretted vault” — the lofty cathedral and solemn cloister. He may decorate the gorgeous altar with every sacred and awful emblem. He may surmount the taper spire with the gilded cross. He may suspend upon the ancient walls, the most wonderful and thrilling delineations of the pencil; but all these, how insignificant in their power to produce the requisite emotions, compared with the reverberating peal of the organ, and the solemn chant of the choir. We may enter the magnificent temples of earthly worship, and the soul will bow down in adoration, for it is in the house of God, and at the gate of Heaven. But, hark! that gentle strain! those swelling voices! It is the harmony of the angel-host ! hear thein as they come in joy and love from

orms and accompide external symbolis – the lofty cathedrar

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »