Imatges de pÓgina

religious instruction-a fact that cannot be set too clearly or emphatically before the public.

With regard to the other branches of education, it will be seen that they are still progressing. The teaching of the elements of physics is a new feature in the instruction afforded, the propriety of its introduction being pointed out in the first number of our publication: we deem this to be one of the first subjects that ought to be introduced after the means of education-reading, writing, and arithmetic are imparted; but we think that great improvement might be made in this branch of study, by its being identified with natural theology, and taught in a manner to prove the wisdom, beneficence, and superintending providence of the Deity in the works of creation. Thus, the word of God and the works of God might be taught together, as we have, more than once, recommended they should be taught.

The system of interrogation has been brought to such an excellence as to make it difficult to add any improvement to it; but there is one which we will venture to suggest, as calculated still farther to exercise the mind; and that is, the collecting together the various qualities and properties of the objects brought under the notice, and obliging the child to give a summary of them in his own language. For instance, the word or object may be a top-the questions would be: “What is a top? A toy which spins.-What has it got? A peg.-What shape is it? Something like a pear.—What has it got on the head of it? A round rim, &c." We would have the child taught not only to reply thus to these interrogatories, but also, after having collected this knowledge, to give it back to the monitor without particular interrogatives also-thus, "What is a top? A top is a toy, made to spin by a piece of string; it is shaped like a pear, and where the stalk would be there is a little peg, on which it turns round; on the sides are little grooves made for the string to go in, and the top of it has a rim, in the middle of which a little red paint is put, &c.' So that the child might be taught not only the qualities of things, but also the powers of language and description. He would then see how necessary it is always to take notice of all particulars. Perhaps there is nothing so clearly proves the use that this kind of instruction would be of, than to refer to the evidence of witnesses in a court of justice, or before a magistrate; it is always difficult, and often baffles all the powers of the Judge, to get a clear statement of a common fact from an eye-witness.

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In conclusion, we may fairly say that, the "British System" is taking the lead decidedly in the work of education. It is true, more might be done, a still larger scope of instruction might be taken, the leading features of mental and moral science might be entered upon in a regular manner, by the introduction of books to the classes, by real experiments, and by a variety of other modes that might be suggested; but let us rejoice that so much is done, that public opinion will speedily require that more should be accomplished, and that the absurd fear, of over-educating the population in all that is good and all that is really useful to them, is dying away like the morning mists at the genial influence of the sun's light, and that the dawn is a sure presage that the "day is at hand."



It is now about thirty years since that grand engine for the improvement of man, Popular Education, came into existence; and since the commencement of that period, and in its early times, perhaps greater changes have taken place both in the political and in the moral world than were ever known in the history of mankind. Dynasties have risen and have fallen; convulsions, the most dreadful, have at one time torn asunder the dearest compacts of society; and opinions, always mighty in themselves, have invested themselves with prerogatives and powers greater than those of kings and conquerors. But as intelligence has increased, consequent on the art of reading being gradually diffused, the turbulence of the times have, in a degree, subsided, and although the political horizon has been shrouded with tempests, they have passed over us with a less blighting influence. Monarchies, dynasties, and states have been overthrown; but this has been done with comparative moderation, and humanity seemed to have stepped in where barbarity formerly trod; while changes which strike at the root of the oldest, and most valued, and the most firmlyseated of our institutions have taken place, not only without bloodshed, but evidently by the power of moral force alone, working its way in the grandeur of some calmly-flowing tide, almost without a ripple on its surface, but no less certain of reaching the mark of its high destiny, or the point at which it is ordained that it shall come.

Nor has the social state undergone a less perceptible change. A new order of society, which perhaps enjoys more of the real comforts of civilized life than were ever before enjoyed by any community, has arisen a class which is every day becoming more numerous, and which, perhaps, exhibits in a greater perfection (considering all the facilities for vice, and all the allurements to sin which a country possessing so many luxuries as England affords) those virtues which adorn every station, and that consistent morality which ensures a wellmanaged house and a well-ordered family. In the same degree, that class which hitherto had claimed privilege, and precedence, and prerogative, as a legal inheritance, and almost as virtues, has become more humbled in its notions, more generalized in its views, and more expanded in its sentiments. The barriers that seemed set up to keep all "meaner breed" without the pale of " their nobility," have been gradually lowered, the line of demarcation has been less and less perceptible, and there has been a manifest assimilation in the gradual drawing together of different ranks to that beautiful order in nature, which marks the connection of the several kingdoms with such nicety as to leave us in doubt where one ends or the other begins.

If we take the lower links of the chain we still observe the same kind of improvement; the influence felt in a part, like that of galva nizm, is communicated throughout the whole circle in one undeviating round of connection; and this seems likewise to have a tendency to draw towards each other the elements of which the circle is composed. As the higher ranks are evidently drawing nearer the lower, VOL. I-April, 1835.


by a recognition of the common bonds of sympathy; so are the lower, in their increasing intelligence, rising towards them. In both the rugged asperities have been softened; for there is rugged asperity of rank as well as of vulgarity. In the lower classes, we see something of that gross brutality and recklessness of life which used to be evidenced in murders, high-way robberies, rapes, and crimes against the person; and these just, as we might suppose, according to the intelligence or ignorance of the district: in Suffolk and Buckinghamshire, perhaps, two of the darkest counties in England, this fact is peculiarly apparent; and in the French departments the same difference is found; in those departments where the people are more educated, the crimes are of a less sanguinary and violent character, while in those where the people are sunk in ignorance, brutality and violence still prevail.

It is not, however, for the common observer and the man of to-day to be able to trace with a very particular hand the sensible amelioration of the condition of the people the lowering by degrees of the notions of the one class, or the gradual refinement of the manners of the other. He only who was a busy agent in the stormy times at the close of the last century, who has marked the ferocity of mobs, and seen the cruel revenge of infuriated parties, who has been the night watcher among the superstitions of the East Anglians, and who has been active with the poor of great towns, such an one, perhaps, can best notice, although he may fail to depict, the great change that has passed in his time, not only in the world, but also in society at large, and in families in particular,-a change to be attributed to that primum mobile of intelligence, or more general diffusion of the "art of reading."

It may safely be affirmed, that so great a change in society did not take place, from the invention of printing, to the time that Bell and Lancaster invented the monitorial system, as has taken place since the first public free day-school was opened. The Reformation, indeed, put a check upon priestly power and rule, a domination which usurped that of God, and enslaved both the bodies and minds of men, and bound them to the dust; but the art of reading, thus communicated to the people at large, has attacked in the strong hold of the human bosom, those principles which hitherto had strangled freedom in her birth, and which would have led man to be satisfied with the dawn and never have revealed to him a sun.

But much as knowledge has done for society, it seems now only to have reached a point where auxiliary means may be used with effect to regulate the motion of the mighty engine so unceasingly at work. Whatever might have been the value of the maxim "Let alone," in former times, at the present day it is utterly worthless in civil government. The day of argument against an extension of knowledge to the people, and of affording them the means to acquire that knowledge, is descended to the tomb of all the Capulets, with the witches, and warlocks, the ghosts, the fetches, and "second sights" of the "olden time;" and the question now is, not what shall we do to stop the people from learning to read, but what shall we do to direct their

reading, to soften their characters, to improve their morals, and refine their taste. The means of knowledge, such as at present is put within the grasp of the lower class of people, give them a power for good or evil, in the use of it, of the most tremendous and overwhelming kind. To impart the means without giving the direction, is like putting a club into the hands of the maniac; or, as was shown us in our nursery histories, putting a sword into the hands of the wild man, Orson, who not only cuts his own fingers with it, but makes terrible havoc both among friends and foes, with the very instrument which might have served him for protection and defence.

And this seems to be something very like the true state of the halfeducated people of England; they can read, indifferently perhaps,but they can read; and what do they read? Not the Penny Magazine —not the publications of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge these go to the respectable classes and the rich; but few, very few of the parties for whom they were designed ever think of them: to talk to those who have been only drilled through the merest mechanical elements of knowledge, who have been caned through the Bible and flogged through the catechism, and been taught by the dull lifeless machinery of a National School, only enlivened by the whippings aforesaid, to hate both Bible, catechism, and teacher-to talk to beings so schooled, of natural history, and science, and botany, and music, shows but little knowledge of these characters; and to think that simply sending 100,000 of such tracts abroad, will have a very striking effect on the lowest class, or that they at all are interesting to it, is one of the most specious errors into which the present generation has fallen.

Indeed, there seems something "rotten in the state of Denmark," or that the “ aggregate intellect," and "collective wisdom" of the 66 powers that be," is, after all, but little versed in the affairs of the lowest class. To sketch out a plan of a campaign at a cabinet dinner, to subjugate nations by an order of council, to levy two or three millions of taxes for an army estimate by a vote of the house, may be, and are, no doubt, very agreeable amusements for this party to enjoy, and the other party to oppose. But to raise a people from the brute state, and to place them in the order of civilized beings, is a very different affair. Certain quakings, and misgivings, and fears, and doubts, and perplexities, cow over-cautious men and timid counsellors, who legislate for expediency only; till, at last, the storm, which had been so long prophesied, to come from one quarter, suddenly breaks out from the opposite point of the compass, and wreck and ruin follow as a natural consequence.

If we look at the state of the lower classes of the population, what do we observe? Giving all due weight to the evident improvement already mentioned, and great and important it undoubtedly is, we find a semi-barbarous, a half-civilized state. Look at the working carpenter, the shoemaker, the baker, the tailor, and the hundred other trades, of which trades' unions and such associations are composed, are they not after all the ignorant tools of the unprincipled political demagogue, and open-mouthed listeners to the pot-house oracle? What are the

opinions they entertain of religion, or of politics? the former, never having been instructed in it in a manner calculated to the awakening of the interest-the fine springs of feeling, or to the opening of the stores of knowledge, they merely look upon as a cunningly-devised fable, as a state engine, or the craft of its propounders; in connection with the latter, they hold the most outrageous notions regarding the rights of property, and are as destitute of any idea of the true objects and advantages of the social state, of the laws under which they live, and of the true ends of all government, as the veriest savage. And this is the deplorable condition, not of the sheerly ignorant, but of those who are just able to read, and no more, who meet at beer-houses and form political clubs;* for their notions being erroneous from the first, they naturally only read those books, the thoughts of which attach themselves to ideas previously formed; instead of taking wholesome mental food, they prefer political tracts and co-operative journals, in which established institutions are attacked with all the coarseness, ribaldry, and power, common to the station of life of those who write them, and which find a ready response in the perverted understandings of those who read them.

The consequences of this kind of reading, and of the associations to which this kind of reading leads, are such, as every friend to the poor must not only lament, but also denounce; not only because it draws the mind from every thing calculated to raise the taste and character of the individual, but because it inflicts positive evil upon him, by the pain he endures from the dissatisfaction with his state in society which it creates. How unhappy must he be who looks upon all the distinctions of rank and wealth, as things of which he is unjustly deprived, who envies those who are better off than himself, and who has neither drawn from religion or philosophy the balm of contentment, who has no taste for simple pleasures, no love for those pure delights which nature (in common to all) ever affords the well-regulated mind. And this is too much the case with the class of whom we write. It has been said that the height of an ignorant clown's felicity is to swing on a gate and eat bacon and bread all day long ;" but he who has the gift of being able to read only, and who reads those books that destroy his peace and breed in him the fell spirit of hatred, is in a far more deplorable situation.


It becomes, then, the duty as well as the interest of every friend to society in all its grades, to set about a reform, not only in the education of the young, but also in that of the adult population, particularly that part of it just bursting into manhood; we have again and again repeated, that the present means of education are insufficient for the object which ought to be kept in view-namely, the raising of the

*We would by no means object to the spread of political information among the people; it is their duty to acquire such knowledge, and to keep a strict watch over the conduct of legislators and public men; we would have them familiar with the public prints, and with public affairs; but we would, at the same time, have them acquainted with the true ends and objects of Government, and the complicated movements of the great political machine, that they might feel that all changes, however necessary they may be, must ever be made with great care, circumspection, and caution.

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