« AnteriorContinuar »
'.' This supreme rule, that we must do what is right, is also the moral rule of human action. Having got this notion of what is right; what we ought to do; what we should do; we are already in the region of morality."—Ibid. p. 11. »
The book from which we have just quoted, furnishes, we believe, the most comprehensive and careful survey of the ethical systems which. have been originated or adopted by our own countrymen. We have already stated the difference of principle which divides them into two great antagonistic bodies. The friendly and kindred systems, which went to form the schools of dependent and independent morality respectively, present (inter «e) on either side an endless variety of feature and complexion, but there is no essential difference of principle involved in. them. The grasping of these minor differences (in the study, at least, of the latter of these two systems of morality), and their logical adjustment and reconciliation, would afford abundant ground for the strengthening of the judgment and the reasoning powers.
But to proceed: "The question of moral obligation divides itself into two heads :—1. What is the foundation of moral relations, or in what virtue consists. 2. With what faculties or internal principles the human mind perceives those relations." *—P. 201.
"With respect to the first question, or the foundation of morality, the chief controversy has been, whether moral relations are immutable and eternal, or arbitrary and contingent.
"The immutability of moral relations has been defended by many of the ancient philosophers, and principally by Clarke and Cudworth among the moderns.
"Their contingent and arbitrary nature has been maintained by many sects of philosophers, widely differing from each other in their notions respecting the manner in which these relations, although at first indifferent, were created and established."—Ibid. p. 202.
For an interesting discussion of these points, we refer the reader to the little book just quoted. In the lecture " On Moral Relations," the author has some useful remarks upon the ethical doctrines of the Greek philosophers, which may tempt to a perusal of the earlier part of the "Republic" of Plato. In the Socratic dialogue, which Mr. Kingsley put out some time ago, under the title of "Phaethon; or, Loose Thoughts for Loose Thinkers," as well as in the invaluable work by Mr. Rogers, entitled, "The Eclipse of Faith," we recognize a certain philosophic instinct of manner, derived, doubtless, from a thorough study of Plato, f which may have prepared some, perhaps, for a first-hand acquaintance with that great writer. We address some, indeed, who may have in
* Mills's Essays and Lectures. Oxford: W. Graham. 1846.
+ "It might very well be thought serious trifling to tell my readers that the greatest men had ever a high esteem for Plato, whose writings are the touchstone of a hasty and shallow mind ; whose philosophy has been the admiration of ages; which supplied patriots, magistrates, and lawgivers to the most flourishing states, as well as fathers to the Church, and doctors to the schools. Albeit in these days the depths of that old learning are rarely fathomed ; and yet it were happy for these lands if our young nobility and gentry, instead of modern maxims, would imbibe the notions of the great men of antiquity. But in these free-thinking times, many an empty head is shook at Aristotle and Plato, as well as at the Holy Scriptures."—Siris, in BUhop Berkeley's Works, vol. ii. p. 613, quoted by Mills.
eluded in their school-list the "Pheedo" or the "Phaedms," or, again, the " Memorabilia" of Xenophon; but who would now approach these authors from the side of a different interest, and with a different end in view, in the study of his writings.
As they pursue these and the like studies, they will see that the great truths which lie at the root of all religious and moral obligation whatever, are such as the upright heathen philosopher contended for more than two thousand years ago. * They will find the witness of Heathen and Christian thus far agreeing together, and combined into one great scheme of morals, co-extensive with the bounds of humanity itself. They will learn to separate an abstract principle from the character or bias of those who promulgated it, and to judge of the one on its own merits, apart from the other. Whilst they confess the unimpeachable purity of the upholder of the dependent system of morality in the person of Paley and others, they learn not the less heartily to condemn a theory whose tendency is to "lower and degrade the basis of morality; to seek for it in earth rather than in heaven; to gather it out of the modes and relations of human custom and usage, accidentally determined, and which experience has shown to be expedient, rather than to build it upon the settled relations of things, and upon those faculties and feelings which conducted men to the right path, before experience could have pointed out the salutary consequences." t
The tendency of moral studies, in the largest sense of the term, is to impart a certain fairness of judgment to the mind, and to give it an instinctive power of weighing (in relation to first principles) the true value of those arguments and objections in the field of contingent matter, with which it is so largely the business of human life to deal. J
We have already recommended the study (by as many as find that they can compass it) of Bishop Butler's works. His three sermons on Human Nature, along with the "Introduction," and the "Dissertation on the Nature of Virtue," form a kind of text-book, within a moderate compass, around which the student might gather very varied illustration, and the fruits of other ethical studies.
Dr. Whewell has detached the sermons and treatises just named from the rest of Bishop Butler's writings, and prefixed a valuable analysis and preface of his own,—publishing the whole in a small volume. § To any one desirous of laying a sound foundation in moral science, we would recommend the very careful study of this combination of treatises—the study, in short, which Bishop Butler himself demands as absolutely
* "Whatever differences existed between Plato and Aristotle respecting the origin of ideas, and indeed many minor points in their moral systems, they both held, in opposition to the Sophists, the immutable distinctions of right and wrong: they both held, that it was the proper business of life so to train up the good and evil influences implanted in us, as to make the evil obedient to the good, according to the law of our natural constitution, by which the understanding is appointed to govern, and the affections to submit."—Mills's Lectures, pp. 177, 178.
+ Mills's Essays, &c., p. 184.
X "Philosophy does not exist until the mind of the student begins to work for itself, with the principles it receives historically; to decompose and to compose anew, to criticise the arguments employed, to essay at least to push the confines of truth farther into the wilds of error and ignorance, and to leave her a wider territory."—Outline of Laws of Thought, p. 364.
§ Deightons, Cambridge, 1848.
necessary to the understanding of a subject abstruse in itself, and involving much of abstract thought and argument. The prescriptions alluded to are contained in the preface to his sermons, and will be recognized by our readers as having been in part adopted in a former paper. In fact, they set forth the essential conditions of all study whatsoever, and are worthy of constant perusal, apart from the immediate connection in which they stand.
We have now given an imperfect outline of some of the conditions of the study of Moral Philosophy; we have also held out some inducements to the thoughtful to undertake such study. We close a hasty review of the subject with some apology for having thus entered upon a theme, not new to us indeed, but which we should have wished to digest anew (had time permitted), with especial regard to our present design. If the plan which we entertain of eventually reprinting this series of papers should be carried out, we promise, in this article, as well as in the rest, to exercise a careful discrimination of matter, so as to give to the whole something of the harmony and completeness involved in our original design, and at the same time to secure that accuracy and. certainty of expression which should characterize an educational treatise.
The letter of M. E. C, which we hope to find time to notice elsewhere, gives a cue, which we welcome, not for polemical discussion, but for the furnishing of such friendly hints towards a satisfactory completion and reissue of our design, as it is in the power of many amongst your readers to offer. J. S. G.
Aspiring Teachers. — The desire to read for orders, with the
reservation already made, should be discouraged in the teacher ; that he should learn to regard his own as a sufficiently honourable calling. So far from the "admission of many schoolmasters to orders" being a sufficient answer to our lament, it is a cause of lament, and an evidence of its justice. Let a man distinguish himself as a teacher ; let him exhibit qualifications which a clergyman does not commonly possess, and which would be useless to him, did he possess them; let him show himself eminently useful in the schoolroom, and a grateful society will transfer him to the pulpit; let him demonstrate himself to be the right man in the right place, and he may aspire to be translated to a wrong one. Either good teachers are wanted or they are not. If we take the first supposition, it is folly to withdraw proved ability from the profession; if the latter, we need offer no inducements to emulation. If, as we believe, the qualities constituting a first-rate teacher are rarely combined with those that form the useful minister of the Gospel, then we do not, by this species of promotion, reward good teachers, but hard readers, who may have given to selfculture some portion of the time and energy they should have lavished unreservedly upon their schools. The affair bears absurdity upon its forefront. Do we tempt the ambition of a Sandhurst cadet by promising to reward his military ability with the command of a frigate; excite the sluggish emulation of a civil officer with the prospect of a colonel's commission ; or set before the eyes of him who toils over Coke upon Lyttleton and Tidd's Practice the harvest of a bishopric? Yet the qualities which constitute excellence in any of these professions are not more dissimilar than those which sustain and dignify the clerical and scholastic character. A first-rate teacher would often be ignored as a social utility by the assumption of the clerical office. And what would be the effect of this system? Just that which Mr. Longueville Jones supposes. Set before a young man, fresh- from the training-college, the idea that the great aim of his life is to convert his CM. into B.A., and we may expect to find him more careful of a neckcloth of clerical white than of foul copybooks in his first class, and more disposed to exhibit his personal knowledge of the Greek Testament than to teach Tom Styles to read the vulgar version.—The*School mid t/ie Teacher.
The Theory and Practice of Notes of Lessons. By John Jones, Certificated Teacher, and Head Master of the Countess of Harewood's School. Pp. 136. London: Simpkin and Marshall.
This little work is a welcome addition to our school literature. "We have had an abundance of works on the subjects to be taught in schools, but the manner of teaching them has been comparatively neglected by writers on elementary instruction. Perhaps the founders of our great schools of the art of teaching considered the teachers whom they turned out from their training schools to be the best exponents of their methods. Certain it is that good serviceable manuals of method, beyond a mere detail of school drill, are very much wanted. We therefore see with pleasure a trained and experienced teacher like Mr. Jones, come to the assistance of his less fortunate brethren, who have been compelled to practise their art without having previously learned it. The book comes to us with high recommendations. A thousand copies of the first edition were sold in a few months, and it has come to a second edition. It is also highly praised by one of H. M. Inspectors, the Rev. Mr. Watkins, two educational periodicals, and Mr. Boardman, President of the Associated Body of Church Schoolmasters. We therefore sat down to read it with a strong prepossession in its favour, and almost prepared to find ourselves added to the list of admirers, whose praises grace the first leaf, in the next edition which may appear. But to use the words of one of the inspectors of schools, "we are critical, or we are nothing." Unless we state, without fear or favour, our unvarnished opinion of the works submitted to us for notice, we are betraying the cause of educational progress which it is our duty to promote. We therefore feel ourselves compelled to mar, with some discordant notes, the harmony of those laudatory paragraphs.
We will, however, begin with stating what we like in the book. We have been much pleased with the chapters on Preparation of Notes of Lesson, Questioning and Illustration. The author has made good use of the writings of our standard educational authors, exercised a sound judgment on the subject he was treating, and expressed his matter in good and simple English. We consider these chapters calculated to be extremely useful to the class of teachers to whom our author addresses himself, namely those who have not possessed the advantage of training. Indeed all parts of the book which consist in theory and precept are excellent. But we cannot award equal praise to the practical part. We find it not unfrequently in complete contradiction with the former, so that if the work were divided into two, the one treating of the "Theory" and the other of the "Practice," we should never guess that they came from the same hand. A few examples will suffice to illustrate our position. At p. 42, the author cites with approval the dictum of Mr. Ross, in his " Teacher's Manual of Method," "Teach your pupils as little as possible," which he explains to mean, that the teacher should not do for them what, with an ordinary amount of painstaking, they might, and ought to, do for themselves. "It is not so much," he adds, " what the teacher does for the scholar, as what he leads him to do for himself, that is of real value to him. Any plan of teaching is bad, in proportion
as it condemns the pupils to be merely passive recipients; and good, in proportion as it calls into healthful exercise their self-energies and selfendeavours after improvement." In order to carry out this principle, the notes of a lesson should contain very little positive teaching, and should consist mainly of a sketch of the method to be pursued in the lesson—so that the pupils should be led to discover as much as possible of its subject-matter for themselves,—and the most important of the questions to be asked, leaving the filling-up to the discretion of the teacher. They should be strictly notes to assist the teacher's memory as to the plan which he had determined upon for his lesson, not as to the matter to be taught. The best example of this method is given in the "Notes and Sketches of Lessons," published by the Home and Colonial Society. We will cite as an example part of the note of a lesson on Leather.
"Introductory Remarks.—Importance of leather as an article of daily use.—Skins of animals used for clothing in the earliest ages, and nearly all parts of the habitable globe.—(Require pupils to give examples.)
"Flexibility and elasticity of skin when taken from the animal.—(Draw from the pupils the meaning of the words flexibility and elasticity, &c") The reader will perceive that in this extract the principal object is to remind the teacher how he is to teach, and not what he is to teach. This principle is, however, still more prominently exhibited in the "Sketches," the form which may be said to be peculiar to the Home and Colonial system, and that which they, with great justice, prefer to the "Note." These sketches are precisely what a master of method would make for the guidance of a student. Mr. Jones' notes are framed on a different principle. They are epitomes of the subject of the lesson, and only bear upon the method of imparting it in being drawn up in a certain order, which the teacher intends to follow. They are also, mostly, far too long for one lesson, and would require to be broken into two or three lessons. Mr. Jones correctly states at p. 39, that the subject under consideration must be presented to the children in the form of a "short lecture," but he appears to have lost sight of that principle in the composition of his notes. It is a proof how little it has been present to his mind that a prize note on the life of St. Paul is the longest and most overcharged with facts of all, and we are less surprised than Mr. Jones appears to be, that it was rejected for that reason. Another of Mr. Jones' precepts is " Let your explanations be clear and simple, and suited to the knowledge which the children possess." Let us see how it has been adhered to in the notes. We open the book and find a lesson on salt. On its "uses" we find the following explanation: "In small quantities it accelerates putrid fermentation, and thus aids digestion; in large quantities it has a contrary effect, and lends to preserve organic substances from corruption. It is indispensable as a condiment of food," &c. Now we do not say that this would be unintelligible to an advanced class, but we are sure that if a teacher addressed them in this language, and in the tone which it it is likely to induce in the person using it, he will not long be able to keep them attentive and active. In a lesson on the answer to the question "What is required of them who come to the Lord's Supper?" we find "former sins" explained, "sins committed previously, all sins." Now every child will know what "former" means, but few will understand the meaning of "committed previously." At all events the author has fallen into the error of