Imágenes de página

system of government upon which they affiliate the offspring of improvidence, sloth, error, and intemperance, profiting by the misery their indolence would not, or their foresight could not, avert. Every advance, therefore, made towards them is an arousing of jealousy ; every act of generous solicitude for their welfare a kindling of suspicion. The counsels of the highest wisdom are listened to as the sophistries of tyrants ; the Gospel, of which they know nothing, is declared to be a perversion of the Gospel; the sympathy of the clergy is an affectation cloaking an interested motive; their pastoral care is a system of espionage ; their social position exposes them to the imputation of pride, arrogance, and luxury, which are paralleled—and the parallel is urged from week to week by a malignant mentor with their own servile position, their penury, and dependence. These prejudices exist even to the hinderance of attempts to extend knowledge of a purely secular character. “For my part,” says a writer in the same journal, “I rejoice that Mechanics Institutions and Public Libraries are, generally speaking, failures." In allusion to one particular failure, in a village not far from the metropolis, he adds :

“ Did the working classes frequent these resorts, and peruse the volumes that encumber their shelves, they would most likely become more slavish and subinissive to their task-masters than at present. * * * The mere fact of the 'nobleman of the neighbourhood' being patron, and the 'village squire' president, fully accounts to me for the failure of this rural literary institution. * In conclusion, I repeat, that the failure of those educational institutions, controlled by lords, squires, and parsons, is a matter of congratulation rather than of sorrow; for far better is it that a man should remain in blind ignorance than imbibe doctrines that teach him to become a contented, obedient, submissive drudge.”

Seen, then, as in a mirror, in the popular journals, the people appear ignorant of those political laws which affect their domestic happiness, and indirectly their moral health-open to the reception of doctrines subversive of all government, dangerous alike to the believer and his fellow-citizens, and defended by a cold indifference, or an array of stubborn prejudices, against the efforts of philanthropy and the influence of religion. For all this, the remedy seems obvious ; if ignorance of political economy produce as much misery, and perhaps as much crime, as any form of ignorance, let it have in the education of the citizen the place of necessary science ; if political prejudices and fallacies hinder the reception of religious truth, let us communicate the knowledge which will remove them--strike out the fundamental error of the popular creed, which confounds all authority with tyranny, all subordination with slavery, and the natural inequality of property with injustice ; and, like a chain shorn through one link, the whole contingency of minor prejudices falls to the ground. We do not wish to depreciate the value of scientific knowledge, still less its teaching, as a means of mental discipline ; but we cannot but remark, that while its several branches assume, yearly, a more prominent position in the list of subjects of elementary education, this, which, in our minds, is of more practical importance, is still confined to some half-dozen chapters of a readingbook. If any knowledge is useful to a child, it is surely that of the circumstances of his future existence, of the phenomena to which his civil conduct must be regulated and his domestic life accommodated. Men accommodate their actions to physical laws unconsciously, and may be very tender of their body's health without thinking of their existence. In this case animal instinct will hardly betray men into error, and rude experience will enable the peasant to avail himself of a natural law as successfully as the philosopher who investigates it. He will remove that which offends his nostrils and infects his dwelling, without reflecting that it evolves sulphuretted hydrogen ; fan his decaying embers into flame, unknowing of oxygen ; and ventilate his room, if not with the science, with the success of a Reid, without understanding the nature of carbonic acid or the constitution of the atmosphere. But he cannot so easily fall in with the course of social phenomena ; his instincts and natural passions are more likely to drive him to their violation than lead him to their observance. Thus, the civil life of a vast number of the working classes is one continual blunder ; in ignorance of history, in spite of experience, they periodically rush into combinations of labour against capital, which result as inevitably in their misery and degradation as a revolt against the decrees of nature entails disease and death. Every trade has its legend of the “ great strike;" of its obstinacy, its privations, and its failure ; yet the experiment awaits only occasion for renewal, there is hardly a conviction of its uselessness, none of its folly. Let labour glut the market-the fall of wages is the crime of capital; let the earth withhold her fruits—scarcity is the guilty act of monopoly; for a very small derangement of some domestic financier's prospects, a minister will be denounced as a villain at the least, and the whole system of government branded as iniquity. Every, the most trivial, circumstance of social existence is thus laden with causes for irritation and discontent. All this might be for the philanthropist, not for the state teacher, to correct, were it not that this gall of political bitterness becomes to ignorant men a preparation for the bond of iniquity, and that this false estimate of their social position suggests to them an excuse for, if it be not a cause of, indolence, vice, and crime.

Of that general indifference to religion which we have described as characteristic of the lower classes, we will not speak. It is a subject of too great importance to be dismissed in the closing lines of a paper, and involving the discussion less of the remedy, upon which there can be no difference of opinion, than of the method of applying it, hardly comes within the design of these papers. We will simply suggest, therefore, as worthy of consideration, whether the ease with which the religious habit is dropped, on the scholar's entering the field of responsible existence, may not be due to some imperfection in the system of religious training, and some defect in the method of communicating religious knowledge.

S. D. W.

[ocr errors][merged small]

TO THE EDITOR OF THE ENGLISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATION. SIR,—In making a few remarks on the subject of a proposition which I was requested to move, at a meeting of schoolmasters, some months ago, I had no ambition to see my “oration," either entire or mutilated, in the columns of a newspaper,* much less that it should re-appear so prominently in your April number, under the imposing title of “ School Teachers and Committee of Council,” honoured, moreover, by the elaborate criticism of your correspondent, the “ Practical Teacher.” In justice to your readers and myself, I trust you will favour me with space for a few words in explanation. The report which your correspondent quotes, and further mutilates by disintegration, is simply a rough, imperfect statement of what really transpired, -enough certainly to puzzle the wits of a genius, such even as the “ Practical Teacher,” who I hope will discover that " ridiculous inconsistency” stands less in the expression of an honest opinion, entertained by at least nine-tenths of the teachers of England, than in straining to become hypercritical on a loose, inaccurate report taken from a local newspaper. I certainly stated, -" There were two or three matters that looked like grievances to the schoolmaster. It had been held to be a great hardship upon the teachers in this country, that they were deprived of the opportunity of adding to their incomes by private teaching, which privilege was not denied to any other class of society. I trusted the time would come when either a satisfactory reason would be given for this restriction, or the Committee of Council would rescind it altogether. Again, it had been often said,— As is the master, so is the school.' No doubt the Committee of Council had done much to elevate the schoolmaster, and consequently to promote education, for which great praise was due ; yet it would not be bad logic to reason, that if they made the master nothing, they would ultimately bring the school to nothing. Now, it was a notorious fact, that in the matter of correspondence, the Committee of Council had made the master a complete ponentity. Hoping, however, for an alteration in these unsatisfactory points, I believed the chief schoolmasters of England were exceedingly grateful to the Committee of Council for much it had done towards promoting education and the welfare of the teacher.” Should the perceptive faculties of our Practical Teacher" experience from the above any sensations of “ heat and cold,” it can only arise from the habit of his ideas wandering into such extremes, that when, like travellers from opposite climes, they meet in a temperate region, mutually complain, the one of heat, the other of cold. The concluding sentence of our modern critic is, I presume, put forth as an apology for his aberrations, with an intimation that he still desires to “ run riot in his own way.”—I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,

. A SCHOOLMASTER. * It was in “ The School and the Teacher,” and we remarked that the extracts were correctly made in the letter.-Ed. E. J. E.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE ENGLISH JOURNAL OF EDUCATION. ON REVIEWS OF SCHOOL-BOOKS.—SiR : On glancing over the reviews of new books in your last number, I saw a notice of the Word-builder," by Mr. Parker, of America. I met with a review and criticism of a similar work of his in that excellent, but now defunct periodical, The Quarterly Journal of Education, for 1835, which such of your readers as are curious, and possess the book, may refer to. I know nothing of the merits of the book in question ; from the specimen you give, it seems but of small value. I cannot but admire the fearless and impartial manner in which you overhaul and dissect our school-books ; really they too often stand in need of correction, or, at least, very modified praise, instead of the fulsome flattery which mostly accompanies their review., A favourable review of an indifferent schoolbook must damage, to a serious extent, the cause of education ; as it places such productions on a par with the sound school-books written by able practical men, and frequently causes their exclusion in quarters which are guided in their purchase of school-books by what the magazines say in their favour.

A. M.

Notes of New Books.

Madvig's Latin Grammar. Translated by the Rev. George Woods, M.A.

Third Edition. Pp. 502. Oxford and London : John Henry and James Parker.

Of a work of this nature, though the original has been and may be attacked or defended, we would speak at present merely with reference to the translator's task. The book is presented to us in intelligible language and excellent typography. The additions appear to have been made with judgment, and (which is not in all books the case) honestly for the purpose of rendering the author's work more complete ; not in the excursus form, or with a view to show the superior acuteness of the translator.

Suggestions for an Improved Theory of the Tides. By Lieut. C. Hop

kins, R.N. Pp. 44. London: Arthur Hall & Co. : We are certainly disposed to consider Lieut. Hopkins's theory worthy of attention. We cannot expect a principle, at its first development, to serve as a master-key to all phenomena connected with the subject ; though much seems to have been done already, by applying it patiently.

Contributions to the Cause of Education. By James Pillans, Esq.,

Professor of Humanity in the University of Edinburgh. Pp. 591. 1856. London : Longmans.

Professor Pillans's name is honoured by all educationists. The first part of this collection, “ containing what pertains to the education of the many,though historically interesting, as the anticipation and suggestion of much that has since been realized in education, has not now so practical a bearing as the second part,"discussions in reference to the education of the few." We learn much of the early history and system of the Edinburgh High School, from which many large and apparently unmanageable classical schools in England might take a hint or two.

Mechanical Drawing and the Education of the Hand in Schools for the

People: a Letter to the Very Rev. the Dean of Hereford. By W. H. Hyett, Esq., F.R.S. Printed at the United National and Free School, Painswick. Pp. 25. 1856.

That much of the training of the mind can be effected through the training of the hand, is a truth now taking its proper place in education, Mr. Hyett has rendered the cause most essential service ; among other things, by the introduction of cheap sets of mathematical instruments into the Painswick school. The experiment has been most successful.

LITTLE BOOKS. The Sea-side Lesson-book. By H. G. Adams. Pp. 236. (London : Groombridge, 1856.) This is a most useful, and at the same time interesting book ; and will, we think, bear out the author's views, that “ It may be of service to those for whom it is intended.” It is divided into six sections, or chapters, which are classified as follows:

1. The Mighty Deep. 2. Ships and Boats. 3. Sailors and Fishermen. 4. Fish and Fishing. 5. Crustaceous and Testaceous Animals. 6. Sea-Weeds and SeaBirds, &c. At the end of each chapter there is a long table of questions, which will materially assist the teacher. The book seems nicely written, and is calculated to interest children. We want books of this kind, adapted to the industrial employ. ment of each locality. Perhaps a little more care is needed to revise some of the nautical terms. For example, " a sheet” is not a sail; but any rope which ties a sail aft horizontally. Sheets, in fact, pull the vessel along ; but they never mean anything but ropes. These are small flaws, and any seaman would put all right in half an hour.

The Art of Land Surveying. By John Quested, Surveyor. Third Edition. Pp. 121. (London: Belfe, 1856.) After a rather careful examination, we should say that this work contains, well selected and well arranged, all the knowledge on the subject necessary for those who do not aim at becoming professional surveyors, but merely wish to be able to perform the ordinary operations for themselves. And this is the special object which Mr. Quested has had in view.

Metrical Meditations on the Sacred Book of Canticles. Pp. 183. (London : Wertheim and Macintosh, 1856.) We admire in this little book much power and sweetness, and earnestness without pietism.

The spiritual application of such parts of Holy Scripture as the Book of Canticles is, to our feeling, necessarily personal; and individuals cannot always sympathize with individuals in their sacru privata. The passage which follows is from page 19 :

“ But above all, O Christian traveller!

Remember that the footsteps of the flock'
Tend all one way—all follow in one track,-
The track the Saviour trod with aching feet,
And marked it with his blood! He, dying, left
Holy example as his bright bequest;
And bears his lambs, and gently leads the weak

To shades refreshing, and to herbage good.” Les Jeunes Narrateurs. Par Marin de la Voye, Second edition. Pp. 152. (London : Grant & Griffiths, 1856.) Pretty little tales of children and for children. We quite agree with M. de la Voye in the importance he attaches to accuracy in translation, which cannot be too soon insisted upon.

The Inspiration and Authenticity of the Old Testament Scriptures. By the Rev. John Perowne, M.A. Pp. 31. (London: Wertheim and Macintosh.) This little work has been called forth by the recent defence of the historical narratives of Holy Scripture, in which the writer's son, Mr. F. J. S. Perowne, has lately taken part. It is in a form very suitable for general circulation.

The Graduated Series of Copybooks. By Thomas Collinson and William Bailey. (London : Groombridge & Sons.) These copies proceed on the judicious plan of assisting the pupil in the formation of letters, and in gradually diminishing the assistance as he acquires facility in penmanship. The copies are beautifully formed, and we can strongly recommend this useful series.

Manual of Moral Philosophy, for the Use of Schools. By E. R. Humphreys, LL.D., Head Master of Cheltenham Grammar School. With a Preliminary Essay on the Relations of Natural and Revealed Religion. By the Rev. J. E. Riddle, M.A. Pp. 134. (London: Longmans.) We should be glad to welcome a work on this subject, adapted for school use. We do not think, however, that Dr. Humphreys has yet supplied the desideratum of an introduction, though we admire his book and its arrangement.

« AnteriorContinuar »