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gation, and of examining and noting the operations of his own mind; habits of infinitely more value, than the mere acquisition of science ; habits, in fact, which will give him the mastery over all the sciences, at will.
But, by the mode in which this book is generally used in schools, all these important advantages are lost. The pupil is allowed to study out the questions at his leisure ; sometimes, even, to work them out on the slate, and then, committing the answers to memory, or annexing them to the questions, he is merely expected to repeat them, when called upon, at his recitation. This unfortunate result has generally arisen, no doubt, either from the incapacity or slothful habits of the teacher. For, of course, it is necessary, in order to secure all the advantages of this study, that the teacher should, himself, perform the operation simultaneously with his pupil.
The most serious error, however, into which teachers have fallen on this subject, has arisen from considering mental, as a substitute for written arithmetic, in place of an introduction and an assistant to the latter. A moment's reflection, one would think, would show that it could never be depended on, for any but petty businesstransactions. Long accounts, and all questions in which many large numbers are involved, are totally unsuited to mental arithmetic. A knowledge of written arithmetic, consequently, is an indispensable requisite of a good education.
Geography, History, Natural History, Grammar, &c.
The higher branches of education are taught in the schools, in a much more satisfactory manner, than the fundamental studies which have been noticed ; and, in some degree, serve to rub off the rust, acquired in pursuing the initiatory steps. But there is one error, which runs more or less through the whole system ; viz., the charging the memory with words instead of ideas. In all studies, there is too much of what is called, committing to memory
This is an error, however, which, it is believed, will disappear, as soon as a more rational plan is adopted, of teaching the fundamental branches. When
the mind shall be developed and disciplined, by a proper mode of acquiring reading and arithmetic, the folly of attaching value to the mere repetition of words will be generally seen and acknowledged.
ALAS! what a blank is here! How little, how very little, has even been attempted, towards developing and giving a proper direction to the social affections and moral feelings of early youth! And yet, when we examine with care the little that has been done ; when we see with what crude notions, nay, even with what false principles, the instructers of early youth have come to their important task ; we feel inclined to ask, whether it would not have been better, that nothing had been done; that the whole subject had been left unoccupied. For, with what sordid, mercenary motives, have young children been incited to the love and practice of virtue! One is praised for goodness, and rewarded with a doll; another, with 6 books with prints in them ;" a third, with sweetmeats. In one school-book, we are told that “the boys thought how good James and George were, to give them part of their cakes, and said, they would share with them, when they had good things, too. Were not James and George good boys ?” In another, there is an account of a good boy assisting a dog, a half-starved horse, and a blind man, in the morning, who, in the evening, coöperate to rescue him from thieves. In a third, where a story is related of a dishonest boy punished by a broken leg, and honest Harry rewarded with a hat-full of apples, it is wound up by the statement, that “Harry carried the fruit to his mother, and told her, he was now convinced that children were always happiest when they did right.” Now, what kind of moral perceptions can be expected from youth, who, in their tender years, have been fed merely by such trash as this. Nothing but tangible rewards and punishments ! Good for good, evil for evil ! Is this the spirit of the Gospel of Christ ? " Do not even the publicans the same ? Is it any thing more than one of the innumerable forms of selfishness ? the mere spirit of trade ? a mere barter of benevolence ? Every one, at all conversant with the state of infancy, must be aware, that nothing of the mercantile spirit is to be found there. Children are naturally selfish; that is, they think only of themselves, or, rather, know little of others; but what they do give, they give freely, without price. Whilst endeavoring to correct this selfish spirit, then, let us be careful not to instil a worse. Let us not dig up the soil, and plant it with thistles. Much higher motives than these can be appreciated by very young children. They can as readily perceive the beauty and dignity of goodness as we can. They need not the stimulus, either of praise or rewards, to excite them to well-doing. Show them a noble example, and they will instantly follow it. Shall we not, then, try to prolong, a little, this beautiful state of artlessness; to make a few better impressions, before we initiate them. into the world of traffic ? Is there not too much of the mercantile spirit in the community? Is it not disgusting, to see a child calculating to a day the period of his majority, when his parents shall have no longer a claim on his services ? To see parents and children, who dwell in one house, eating at different tables ? brothers and sisters, bargaining closely, like utter strangers ? husband and wife, with separate purses ?
Again, when dissuasives from vice are wanted, with what trickery and deceit are children assailed! We have seen, above, the dishonest boy punished with a broken leg, as if the good and bad were not alike subject to such casualties ; and, in the same spirit, one of our most popular spelling-books commences the reading lessons with the following sentence :
“A dog met a bad boy, and bit him.” This is the genuine old-fashioned style of frightening into obedience ; a practice still so prevalent, that it is
not uncommon to hear a mere child using similar threats to his juniors : so readily do they copy our bad examples. The trick may answer a momentary purpose ; but what sort of impression must the child receive, when he finds, as assuredly, sooner or later, he must, that he has been deceived by his parents or moral instructers ? A powerful modern writer says, that “a father is the young child's deity.” Alas! that his implicit confidence should so soon be rooted out !
We have, in our country, talents of the very first order. Could they be devoted to a nobler purpose, than to rescue youth from such moral bunglers as these ? Could that be considered degrading employment, to genius of the highest rank, which would tend to elevate the whole community in the scale of virtue? Sometimes, it is true, we are told that the Bible is all-sufficient for this
purpose. But surely this is a mistaken view of things. God, in his wisdom, has provided materials, in abundance, for the food of man ; but nowhere, in the temperate climes, are spontaneous products superior to crabs and sloes. In vain may the sun shine, and the dews of heaven descend, on the most fertile soil. Unless the skill and industry of the husbandman be exerted, it will bring forth little else than thorns and thistles. In like manner has the bounty of Providence supplied all sorts of materials for the clothing of man; but in no case whatever are they fitted for
It is the same in the moral world. In his various revelations, God has furnished all the elements of virtue ; but man is required to exert his intelligence, ere the precious fruits of goodness can be formed and ripened. And, in fact, it is only theoretically, that this is denied. Practically, it is admitted by all. Else, why so vast an apparatus of colleges and theological seminaries ; of churches and preachers ; of commentaries, tracts, and sermons ? No! the Bible is not, of itself, sufficient. All the great truths are here ; but its moral lessons require to be expanded and applied. They must be brought to bear on all the various situations in which it is possible for man to be placed ; and, above all, its language must be accommodated to the opening faculties, the unripened intellect, of early youth. O ! how sweet, how blessed, will be the memory of the pioneer, who shall first sow the genuine seeds of duty and happiness in the virgin soil of infancy; who, in stories, written in a style equally pure and simple, shall exhibit, by suitable examples, entirely devoid of authoritative dogmas, the beauty of Virtue, the deformity of Vice; shall awaken in the youthful soul the delights of the social affections ; inspire it with gratitude and piety; with frankness, generosity, and forbearance under injuries; with resignation, humility, and fortitude; and, above all, with a sacred regard for Truth! It is through schOOL-BOOKS and schools only, that a genuine REFORMATION can bless the world. The seeds sown from the pulpit fall among thorns; “and are choked with cares, and riches, and pleasures, of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection."*
These remarks, it will readily be perceived, apply only in the case of early youth. There is no lack of moral treatises, or moral lectures, for manhood, or even for the more advanced stages of youth. But these come too late.
The passions, and the sordid animal appetites and propensities, of our nature, having remained unchecked since infancy, have thus been yearly adding strength to strength; and the conscience, led astray by these powerful emotions, and obscured and darkened, from want of exercise, either fails to respond at all, or answers wrong,
appealed to. No! if we would have our youth habituated to attend to the Divine Light within, what Bacon beautifully calls the "sparkle of the purity of man's first estate," it must be developed and cultivated in infancy. The Christian poet, Cowper, observes, that,
« In early days the conscience has, in most,
Tirocinium, 1. 109, 110. And the best of all authority assures us, that “ of such is the kingdom of Heaven.” How important, then, that this state of comparative innocence should be preserved'; that conscience, while in its purity, should be awakened and
* Luke viii. 14.