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REVIEWS AND NOTICES.
THE WOMEN OF England, their Social Duties, and Domestic Hab
its. By Mrs Elis, author of Poetry of Life, Pictures of Private Life, Pretension, &c. Philadelphia: E. L. Carey and A. Hart. 1839.
Ir is pleasant to meet with an old friend, though under a new name. Miss Stickney bas been long and favorably known to the reading public, and we venture to predict that Mrs Ellis will meet a reception no less cordial. Those who have read the author's “ Poetry of Life,” will expect to find in this new work evidence of a cultivated mind, a refined taste, a sincere appreciation of the beautiful, and a pure and loving heart. But they may not be prepared to find so much that is practical and useful, so many judicious counsels, and such evidences of reflection, good sense and sincere piety. Nor is it by any means fitted to profit exclusively the “ Women of England.” We feel assured that no one can read it without profit, and if its instructions were generally followed and its spirit imbibed we should have more specimens of female character answering to the beautiful description of Wordsworth :
“ The reason firm, the temperate will,
To warn, to comfort and command.” In one respect, at least, this book differs considerably from other recent publications, having a similar object. Although written especially for young ladies, the author does not seem to think it necessary to instruct them in the minutiæ of fashionable manners. She does not teach them what sort of expression they must wear upon their faces, when they enter a room full of company, in order that they may seem to be interested in others; she directs as to the feelings of interest and benevolence which should exist, apparently supposing that these will regulate the expression of the countenance. It must be confessed that her book contains not one lesson on the proper mode of entering a room, of holding the hands in company, or disposing of the gloves at a dinner-party. Neglecting these allimportant matters, Mrs Ellis lays great stress upon the cultivation of habits of disinterested kindness, of fortitude and patient endurance, of moral courage, and other kindred virtues, rather unfash
ionable, sbe seems to suppose, among young ladies. We stal. Jenre to our fair readers to decide upon the comparati re merits of these too classes of accompiishments, the external and ide internal, and also to decide wbetber the former may not be more surely acquired through the possession of the laner, than in any other way. In the mean time we renture to commend Mrs Ells to their especial regard.
A PRACTICAL TREATISE ON ARITHMETIC ; wherein erery principle
taught is explained in a simple and obvious manner, containing bumerous questions, and combining tbe useful properties of former works, with the modern improvements. Being a complete system. To which is added a Description of Book-keeping, with Examples for Practice. Br George Leonard, Jr. Boston, Geo. W. Light. 1839. 12mo. pp. 347. We are frank to confess that we had seen dew arithmetics and geographies and grammars, all claiming to be improved ones, till we were ready to be heart-sick at tbe sight of them. But here comes one more, and circumstances baring led us to examine it, we will, witb all bonesty, make one more confession, which is, that we like it. Without making very high claims, without any claims which are immodest, it really seems to us to embrace important improvements.
One of these improvements consist in placing Federal Money after Decimal Fractions, and not before them as has usually-we know not but always_been done. The Square and Cube Root are also made more intelligible than in any work of the kind we have seen. The articles on Mensuration and Simple Machines, are of first rate importance. Book-keeping, or as the author modestly calls it, a de. scription of book-keeping, seems to us highly desirable in a work of this kind, and we are glad to witness tbe present effort. We do not value the questions at the bottom of the pages, as highly as many teachers do; nevertheless, they may be useful to some persons. In general, however, we are very inuch pleased with the work ; and we wish it were introduced into all our schools.
The Bible READER; being a new selection of reading lessons from
the Holy Scriptures, for the use of schools and families. By William Bentley Fowle, author of the Primary Reader, and various other school books. pp. 283. Boston: published by the author. 1839.
“ After reading the Scriptures more than seventeen years in his own school,” says the author in his preface, “whero are femalo
children of every age and of every denomination of christians, the compiler has endeavored to meet his own wants, after waiting in vain to have them better supplied.” We cannot better express the plan and purpose of the work than in the words of the compiler. “ The work is divided into three Parts; the first containing selections from the Old Testament; the third, selections from the New, in chronological order, so that a correct general outline of Scripture history may be impressed upon the mind by the perusal of this compend ; and the second part contains such miscellaneous passages as most forcibly exhibit the precepts of our religion, arranged under suitable heads. The compiler has been anxious not only to make every lesson a lesson of wisdom, but also to show that besides their inestimable value as the only sale guide of faith and practice, the Holy Scriptures abound in the best reading lessons that our literature affords.” “The text of the common translation has been scrupulously followed."
From a somewhat cursory examination of this volume, we judge that Mr Fowle has done this work well, that the selections are judiciously made, and that the work is wisely arranged to answer the purposes intended by its author. We have not found the difficulty which Mr Fowle has experienced in making a suitable selection from the Bible itself, nor do we think with him that this is the cause why the Bible is not universally used as a reading book. The difficulty lies rather in the peculiar and diseased state of public sentiment, which requires the use of the Bible in our schools, and virtually excludes it by the outcry of sectarianism. We do not doubt that the volume published by Mr Fowle will find, as it deserves, a ready reception and ample success.
THE PRIMARY READER ; consisting of original and selected lessons,
intended to instruct as well as improve the younger class of learners. By William Bentley Fowle, Principal of the Boston Female Monitorial School. pp. 160. Boston, 1837.
A book of sprightly narratives, which will as well interest as instruct its young readers. It reminds us strongly of the reading lessons in Noah Webster, which charmed our early days—no mean recommendation in these years of stately reading books.
THE CHARACTERS OF SCHILLER ; by Mrs Ellet. Otis, Broaders & Company. 1839.
We hope to make our readers acquainted with this volume in our next. The mechanical execution of it is very good.
ANNALS OF EDUCATION,
ART. I.-READING, AND READING BOOKS.
(From the second Report of Hon. Horace Mann, Secretary of the Massachusetts
Board of Education.)
Reading is divisible into two parts. It consists of the mechanical, and the mental. The mechanical part is the utterance of the articulate sounds of a language, or inspecting its written or printed signs. It is called mechanical, because the operation closely resembles that of a machine, which may receive the best of materials and run through a thousand parcels of them every year;-the machine itself remaining just as bare and naked at the end of the year, as it was at the beginning. On the other hand, one portion of the mental part of reading consists in a reproduction in the inind of the reader of whatever was in the mind of the author; so that whether the author describes atoms or worlds, narrates the history of individuals or nations, kindles into sublimity, or melts in pathos,- whatever was in the author's mind starts into sudden existence in the reader's mind, as nearly as their different mental constitutions will allow. An example of the purely mechanical part is exhibited in reading a foreign language, no word of which is understood; as in the case of Milton's daughters, who read the dead languages to their blind father ;-they, with eyes, seeing nothing but black marks upon white paper,-he, without eyes, surveying material and spiritual worlds,—at once charmed by their beauties, and instructed by their wisdom.
With the mental part, then, reading becomes the noblest in
strument of wisdom ; without it, it is the most despicable part of folly and worthlessness. Beforehand, it would seem quite as incredible, that any person should compel children to go through with the barren forms of reading, without ideas; as to inake them perform all the motions of eating, without food. The body would not dwindle under the latter, more certainly, than the mind, under the former. The inevitable consequences are, that all the delight of acquisition is foregone; the reward which nature bestows upon the activity of the faculties is forfeited, a reward which is richer than all prizes and more efficient than all chastisement;-and an inveterate habit is formed of dissociating thought and language. “Understandest thou what thou readest," therefore, is a question quite as apposite when put by a teacher to a child in his horn book, as when asked by an A posile of the anibassador of a Queen.
Entertaining views of the importance of this subject, of which the above is only the feeblest expression, I have devoted especial pains to learn, with some degree of numerical accuracy, how far ihe reading, in our common schools, is an exercise of the mind in thinking and feeling, and how far it is a barren action of the organs of speech upon the atmosphere. My information is derived, principally, froin the written statements of the school committees of the respective towns,-gentlemen, who are certainly exempt from all temptation to disparage the schouls, they superintend. The result is, that more than eleven-twelfths of all the children in the reading classes, in our schools, do not understand the meaning of the words they read; that they do not master the sense of the reading lessons, and that the ideas and feelings intended by the autlior to be conveyed to, and excited in, the reader's mind, still rest in the author's intention, never having yet reached the place of their destination. And by this, it is not meant, that the scholars do not obtain such a full comprehension of the subject of the reading lessons, in its various relations and bearings, as a scientific or erudite reader would do, but that they do not acquire a reasonable and practicable understanding of them. It would hardly seem that the combined efforts of all persons, engaged, could have accomplished more, in defeating the true objects of reading.
How the cause of this deficiency is to be apportioned among the legal supervisors of the schools, parents, teachers or authors of school books, it is impossible to say ; but surely it is an evil, gratuitous, widely prevalent, and threatening the most alarming consequences. But it is not a remediless one. There is intel. ligence enough, in this community, to search out the cause, and wisdom enough to find and apply a remedy.
It has been already stated, that we may acquire a knowledge