Page images

in their labors as teachers, and we have sometimes doubted whether more harm than good might not be done in this way.

But to return to the subject of labor and study. Notwithstanding all the errors and mistakes which have been made by the friends of education in their endeavors to combine manual labor and study, we must still insist on its exceeding great importance especially to a large proportion of the young men of our country who find their way into the ministry. It has long appeared to us a matter of regret that the ministerial ranks could not, some how or other, be filled by young men of different physical characters from what we too often see. For though they may be eminently useful, for a short time, even when constitutionally feeble, and when their physical inefficiency has been increased by a mistaken education, still they are far less so than might be the case, did they possess, along with the same piety, a greater amount of physical vigor, either natural or acquired. We repeat it, we regret, exceedingly, that our candidates from the ministry cannot oftener be selected, not from the feeblest of their respective families, but from the more healthy and hardy; and we regret still more that it has never come to be regarded as an imperative duty of those who educate for the gospel ministry to educate the body, as effectually as the mind and soul. Why is it that our young men should have their constitution of body so effectually ruined by the time they get through their studies, and are just inducted into the ministry, and begin to feel their responsibilities, that they so often are crushed under their weight, and if not wholly lost to the church and to the world, only have their lives prolonged to be a burden to themselves, and to that community which instead of sustaining them, so much needs to be sustained by them?

Since commencing the foregoing remarks, we have met, in the American Quarterly Register, with a biographical sketch of the life and character of Jonathan P. Cushing, M. A., late President of Hampden Sydney College, which is so strikingly confirmatory of the views which we have advanced that no apology will be necessary for adverting to it.

Up to the end of his sixth year, the education of this excellent individual had been conducted exclusively by his mother. Whether he was over educated, or rendered precocious, we are not told by his biographer, but from his slen

der and consumptive shape, there is great reason to fear that this was the case. His mother dying at this time, and his father when he was about ten or eleven, he was placed on a farm; but disliking the employment, as boys of the temperament we have supposed him to possess often do, he left his guardian at 13, and became an apprentice to the saddler's trade. Here having more leisure for thought, as we understand his biographer to say, and being “much given to meditation," he at length began to look forward to a literary occupation, as a profession for life. It was not long before his mind was made up on the subject; and having an unusual share of energy and perseverance, he labored so hard as to be able, at eighteen years of age to “buy his time," as it is called, and enter an academy. But his excessive exertion to accomplish his object, joined to mental anxiety, either with or without a constitutional predisposition, had already, in all probability sown the seeds of decline; for he had been at the academy only eighteen months, when “from want of health and want of relaxation he retired to his native town, and taught school for about the same length of time. Had he labored upon the farm he so much hated all this time, it is impossible to say what might have been done in the way of restoring him to health ; but of one thing we are fully assured, that in so far as the object of teaching is for the sake of relaxation merely, there cannot for young men like Mr Cushing be a worse employment. But instead of working on the farm, or so far as we can learn using any active exercise at all, “ he paid the greater part, if not all of the expenses of his education by the profits of his trade, at which he worked a portion of every day during the time he staid at Exeter.” We shudder, involuntarily when we record this ; so ominous of evil is such a course, to such a young man, whether the evil days come soon, or whether as Solomon says of certain evil works that sentence against them “is not executed speedily.”

And what might have been easily enough predicted, soon came to pass. Before he was twentytwo, his health failed him, and he was threatened with pulmonary consumption. It is true the alarming symptoms were excited by sleeping one night in damp sheets; but the predisposition to pulmonary disease had in all probability existed. It is true, he seemed to recover; at least partially; but it was not without

a risk that no young man ought to run.

Instead of recovering in a natural and appropriate manner, he submitted himself to a course of powerful medicine, which his physician told him would hasten his end, if it did not happen to relieve him, saying that he “was determined to have a liberal education or die in the attempt." There can be no doubt that the experiment though temporarily successful, hastened his death. As yet, however, he had not made any public profession of being governed by christian motives or christian principles.

Soon after this temporary restoration, he entered Dartmouth College; where it seems he remained till he graduated; but his " sedentary habits and neglect of exercise” had so enfeebled his health while in college, that no sooner had he received the usual college honors, than he proceeded to the South to restore it. Here he soon became a tutor in Hampden Sydney College. This was about the close of his twenty fifth year. Sometime after this, on the death of Dr Hoge, the President, he was appointed his successor.

This place he filled from the age of twentynine, till his death, which happened when he was about fortytwo years of age.

Though his health seemed greatly improved by a residence in Virginia, he had never been robust; and he was often

--we believe nearly every year-obliged to take" relaxation” during the college vacation, by journeying among the mountains or elsewhere. Yet there is little doubt that the seeds of a mortal distemper still remained within him, for a slight cold only seemed sufficient, towards the end of his career, to throw him into a consumption, whose rapid progress nothing now could arrest.

It is exceedingly painful to follow out this narrative from the commencement to the end, without being convinced, at almost every step, of the errors of this excellent but ill-fated young man. We say young man; for he died at the very beginning of what might, in all probability, but for physical mismanagement, have been a career of great usefulness and happiness to himself, and to the world which so much needs his services. What a blessing will right physical education confer on mankind when it can be brought, under right parental and medical direction so to bear on the rising character of a young man like Jona. P. Cushing, as to preserve him to the age of Franklin, with faculties unimpaired, and with bodily powers comparatively uninjured! What could not forty years of the active life of a man, thoroughly educated, accomplish?



[blocks in formation]

PeculiaRITIES of character among children arise from two causes.

1. Differences in native constitution.

2. The influences of early education, and the circumstances of early life.

A very little reflection will show us how extensive and powerful is the operation of both these causes.

1. Differences in native constitution. The opinion is sometimes maintained, that there is no diversity in the native constitution of the human mind; the wide differences which we observe being accounted for by the very diverse influences to which minds are subjected in the course of their development. This opinion is a very common one ; a tendency towards it, is, in fact, almost universal. And yet it is difficult to account for the prevalence of such an opinion; for both theory and fact very strongly oppose it.

1. Theory is against it. Every presumption from analogy leads us to suppose that every individual mind will possess its own characteristics, --marks of its individuality, as it comes from the Creator's hand. It is so with the whole creation. The vegetable world runs into countless varieties. Every apple tree raised from the seed, bears its own peculiar fruit, dependent not on soil, climate, cultivation, or management, but on some mysterious principle, modifying the very nature of the plant, which the horticulturist can neither understand or control. Whenever a new variety of fruit appears, which exhibits such natural qualities as are desired, the individual, thus favored by nature, is disseminated by grafts, and buds, as far and wide as possible, and though thus transferred to a thousand other stocks, and grown in places far asunder, and in every variety of soil and situation,

• A lecture delivered before an assembly of Primary School teachers, in oston, Oct. 24, 1838.

all its essential characteristics remain unchanged. Difference in its mode of cultivation may make some difference in size, color, and time of maturity, but there is something in its nature, which remains substantially unchanged, and which gives it a distinct and permanent separation from every other individual plant of its kind.

It is so in the animal world, and here we have mental as well as physical differences. The shepherd knows every sheep in his flock, not because he has fed and trained them differently, but because certain unknown causes, in the native constitution of the animal, give rise to differences of development in the countenance and form. How different: are the characteristics and tendencies of the varieties of the: dog. How impossible, by any course of feeding or training, to give the lap dog the size and courage of the mastiff, or to educate a spaniel to the speed and ferocity of the bloodhound. These native differences seem more striking in those plants and animals which we have domesticated, and thus brought more fully under our observation : but it is, without doubt, equally true of all the rest. The boundless variety, which exists in the works of God, extends to every individual of every species; and gives to each its own native characteristics, which outward causes can modify, but not essentially control.

We find that the same analogy holds good with man in respect to his bodily conformation. The form, the size, the cast, and the expression of the countenance, the color of the hair, and of the eyes, how evident it is that the diversities, which exist in these respects, have their origin in causes which lie concealed, far beyond the reach of diet and regi: men. All these analogies do not, indeed, prove, directly and positively, that there are similar diversities in the native constitution of the mind, but they certainly amount to a strong presumption which should lead us to expect them. If all human souls are, in their original nature, alike,-having the same capacities, the same powers, the same propensities and tendencies, and in the same measure, such a monotony would stand out as a strange exception to the whole economy of nature.

2. Then, fact is against it. It seems as if impartial observation must enable every one to perceive the evidence, of marked, original and ungovernable diversities in the struc

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »