Page images


Application to the United States.

Considerable progress has been made in the buildings which we are erecting for model and training establishments. We hope they will be completed within a few months, and that we shall be then enabled to proceed extensively, and with effect, to the perfecting of teachers for our several schools. This is a work which we deem of vital importance to the whole system of national education.

We have not hitherto had it in our power to bring forward the class of teachers which we desire to raise up, but our training establishment will, we hope, enable us to do so, provided we can secure the services of competent persons by adequate salaries.

* At present, the salaries which the funds placed at our disposal afford, are by no means sufficient to induce persons, possessing the requisite qualifications for teachers, to devote themselves to our schools.

There is much that is cheering in these accounts of improvements in elementary education, from a country in which they are so much needed. Nor is this all. The views of the Board of Commissioners in regard to elevating the intellectual and moral qualifications of teachers, and the means by which so desirable a work should be accomplished, are exceedingly instructive. We sincerely wish to see the question fairly before the American community, whether special schools for the instruction of teachers, model schools, boards of education, superintendents, &c. are wholly of foreign growth, and ill calculated to flourish in our western hemisphere ; or whether they might not be advantageously introduced—we will not say transplanted, since many seem so unwilling to transplant any thing foreign, but folly and vice-into our own United States. Many, we know, have settled this question for themselves, long since ; but it seems as yet never to have been fairly brought before the sovereign people;' and there are some who are conscientiously opposed to it. We say again, we are anxious to see the question fairly up; and if this article should have any influence in effecting such an object, we shall not regret its extension beyond the limits originally intended.

Who are most fond of Fiction.



When it was reported, some time ago, that the packet ship Susquehanna was taken by pirates, a friend of correct education observed to me ; ' I hope the pirates will be overtaken, and, captured and executed; but if they should be hung, I hope Bulwer and Marryatt will be hung up with them.'

At first, such a sentiment seemed to border on the vindictive, and it was difficult to approve of it; but when we came to consider it more fully, and to hear the individual's own explanation of his meaning, the case was somewhat altered.

These novel writers,' said he, by their writings, assist in educating the community to the blackest crimes. Far be it from me to say they do it intentionally ; perhaps they think the tendency of their works is quite otherwise. But if so, they make a most serious and unhappy mistake-a mistake too, for whose consequences they must certainly be held in a greater or less degree responsible.

Do not men know,—they who are as intelligent as Bulwer, and as deeply read in human nature as Marryatt—that while they describe, in such glowing terms, the character of the ruffian or the desperado, there are hundreds and thousands of their young readers who sympathize with him, and-such is human nature-are gradually, in spite of their better judgment, and in view of the final results, " transformed into the same im

age ?"

We could not-we repeat it-avoid thinking there was something of truth in the views of our friend, on this subject. What he says, at least deserves consideration. The works of the authors alluded to, and others of the same general class, have an amazing influence, at the present time, in this country, as is evinced by their rapid sale. Whether they do or do not educate to vice and crime is, therefore, a question of deep and paramount importance.

So far as we have observed for ourselves, the majority of those who are most fond of writings of this description, are very far from being most likely to receive the right sort of impressions. They are persons who are living on excitement. Their very blood is in a feverish state-to say nothing of the state of their brain and nerves. Th have been nursed in hot rooms, and cradled in feathers, and dandled on couches, and fed on stimu


Effects of Injudicious Reading. lating food, and medicated drinks and doses, till they are ready, almost, to take fire on the application of the least spark. And does any one suppose that'the mind can be cool in such a habitation ? Does any one suppose, that while the house in which it lives is in a condition to be ignited at any moment, the soul can be either pure or safe ?

But we have not seen the full effects of these writings. The generation that has been reared most exclusively on the miserable nutriment they afford, has not yet come upon the stage of action. Its education is yet going on. Those who live thirty or fifty years hence, if any such shall escape the general anarchy and carnage, can better tell us what have been the sad consequences of the novel reading of the present day.

We have some facts, however, daily exhibited, which have a bearing on this subject. You see the seducer-you see the ruin in which he involves society. You behold instances, quite too numerous, of matrimonial unhappiness and discord. You see, not unfrequently, the husband or the wife, and especially the newly married, rush into eternity through the aid of the knife and the halter. Nay, you see, or you may have seen, not long ago, two persons of intelligence and comparative respectability, in the city of Boston, whose hearts had been recently united, rush madly into the grave together. Inquire what was the character of these persons ? Will you not find they were novel readers ? Will you not find they were accustomed, from infancy, to dreams of happiness which it was not possible they could ever realize, and to principles of action as remote from the best-from the principles of the Bible-as heaven is remote from hell? Is there no meaning in all this?

One of the late numbers of Parley's Magazine contains a story which seems not inapplicable to our present purpose. We will venture to insert it; and we do it with the more cheerfulness, because we know it to be strictly true. It is in the form of a letter to the editor.

[ocr errors]


I lately heard the following singular anecdote of some boys in Dorchester, near this city. There were four of them, all living in the same neighborhood, and two of them were brothers.

They had been reading the story of Robinson Crusoe, and were very much delighted with his way of living. So they put their heads together, and formed the very wise plan of living in the same manner.

• Having accordingly provided themselves with guns, powder,

Caution to Parents.


and some money and provisions, they started off privately, intending to go to the island of Nantucket; and there, separated from all the world, live as independently and as happy as they supposed Crusoe did.

• They left home one Friday, and it was not known, for some time, what had become of them. Their parents and friends sought with much anxiety to find them ; but all in vain ; and they were almost ready to despair of ever hearing any news from their lost sons. It was not till Sunday afternoon that they were found.

"At the close of the first day of their absence, one of them seemed to feel the reproaches of conscience, and said that his mother would cry if she could not find him. Another said, if his mother did cry, he did not care. Two of them were determined to go on, and said they meant to turn robbers. The others were sick of the expedition, and had set their faces towards home before they were found.

• They had slept in the woods, as the weather was fine, and lived on the provisions they took from home. They had not been more than half way to their favorite island of Nantucket. When found by their friends, they all appeared very much ashamed of their enterprise ; and have not yet manifested any great desire to repeat it.'

The moral of this story seems to be the following. If a book as unexceptionable as Robinson Crusoe has usually been considered, produces such unhappy results on the young mind, what may not be the consequences of reading the thousand and one volumes, yearly issued from the press, whose character and tendency are, to say the least, far more questionable ?

The iruth is, that this whole subject demands consideration-the consideration of those whom it most nearly and deeply concerns. We mean the consideration of Christian parents and teachers. Let them watch, with the utmost care and fidelity, the character of the mental food which is daily forming, as it were, the life blood of their children's souls. Let them not say, we have not time for this. They have time to earn the means of furnishing them with every luxury for the body, and every gratification of the mind. They have time to pamper them, and render them delicate, and fit them to be the slaves of appetite and the votaries of indulgence. At least, they too often find time for this, in one way or another. They find time to fit the body for lodging a mind that cannot be satisfied with plain food; but can they not find time to apply the needful corrective ? It were surely enough to prepare the soil for a poisonous


A Very Common Mistake.

growth, and to sow the seeds; will they not at least try to eradicate the noxious plants, as they begin to show themselves ? Or will they let all go at haphazard, and risk the consequences ?

It does seem to us that parents in general-Christian parents especially—are most criminally negligent on this whole subject. It does seem that, in the scramble for wealth, they have forgotten all else, even the immortal minds and hearts of the children whom God has given thein. We call on themwe entreat them to consider this subject; to take time for it. If they shall, after due reflection, determine to suffer their children and pupils to read any book which appears, without discrimination, be it so. We can only warn and protest; we cannot control. But we do not mean that they shall do it with their eyes shut; we mean to utter a cry of remonstrance, which if not heard through the whole extent of our American community, only falls short of it because we have not the power to do every thing we would.

We protest against the fashionable course of deluging the world with all sorts of books, without due regard to their character and tendency. We plead with those authors who have consciences, to weigh well what they write ; with publishers, to consider beforehand what they publish ; and with booksellers, to remember that readers, even female readers, have soulsMohammedanism to the contrary notwithstanding.

We complain especially of a certain class of booksellers. They manifest a squeamishness in regard to books which, in order to prevent vice, hold it forth naked and odious, just as it is; while they will not hesitate to sell, by hundreds and thousands, apparently without any qualms of conscience, those works, which under the pretence-perhaps with the intentionof removing vice, trick her up to that degree of finery which attracts weak minds, and defeats the object. Such, we humbly conceive, are many of the fictitious writings of the day, and of former days. Such, at least, we believe to be the fact in relation to most of the writings of Byron, Bulwer and Marryatt.

A capital mistake is often made, by the superficial, both in medicine and morals. Things and books which contain but little poison, are supposed to be comparatively harmless; while those, whose effects are more immediate and obvious, are regarded as proportionally dangerous to the constitution. Thus many who would not for the world suffer their children to take a dose of calomel or emetic tartar, will yet encourage them to swallow the same substances disguised in the form of pills, powders, lozenges, &c.; and will even venture upon their use un

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »