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ART. IX. Essai sur l’Esprit, &c. ; i.e. An Essay on the Spirit
of the Education of the Human Race. By JOSEPH ALPHONSE. 8vo. Pp. 512. Paris. 1814. Imported by De Boffe. Price
We suppose that the author of this essay, who has visited
Germany, is no stranger to the excellent paper of Lessing on the Education of the Human Race; where he would meet with many of those seminal ideas of a thinker, which, when they fall on a proper soil, germinate afresh, and produce repeated effects in successive generations. At least, this work borrows the title and in some measure the system of Lessing ; superadding, however, a mass of amplification which is more of French than of German growth: though Pestalozzi's writings have not been overlooked.
M. ALPHONSE inscribes his work, in two informal dedications, to his king and to his country. In the first, he welcomes the return of the Bourbons; and in the second he advises France once more to resume the worship of royalty, of humanity, and of Deity.
The dissertation is divided into ten books, and nearly a þundred chapters : modern French philosophers seeming to delight in methodical subdivisions as much as the puritanic preachers, and to adopt in written works the exclamatory forms of vocal eloquence. - Book i. considers education as influenced by the nature and inherent principles of organic beings; and, if we find not much new matter in this section, it contains many just and important observations, to which as yet but little practical attention is paid in our establishments of education. The importance of self-education is maintained ; and certainly there are many precautions, regarding the cleanliness and health of the body, which must be intrusted to the discretion of each individual. Yet we might have grammars of anatomy and medical catechisms ; conveying, without indecency, to adolescents, many facts concerning the human frame, from ignorance of which they often incur grievous diseases. The just remark also occurs that we have inherent tendencies in our nature, organic ideas which originate within us independently of communication, and which must for ever render incoercible many propensities of the human animal. Education is limited in its powers; it can only increase the proportion of persons adapted for given situations: but all the qualities which have ever adorned the best or disgraced the worst of men must at all times, in some proportion, subsist in every populous civilized community. Moral quacks may
prescribe this or that system of opinion, as a panacea ; as an antidote against forms of behaviour which they call vicious : but all forms of behaviour, which are adopted by extensive classes of men, must have a cause inseparable from their animal frame, and co-existent with their circumstances, which last are the things to be remedied.
A considerable part of this book, and especially of the third chapter, is employed in shewing how large a proportion of what we call revealed religion is in fact natural religion, and common to the philosophic families and the idolaters of every region. The object of this chapter seems to be the reconciliation of a philosophic husband to the religious edification of his wife. Some singular directions are also given. At p.47. the young are advised to sleep without night-caps; and at p. 61. it is recommended that the children of the rich and of the poor should receive those instructions together which are common to both. A dangerous interference of the magistrate with the appointment of school-masters is every where inculcated. Chapter vi. treats of heroic education, or of the method of forming heroes. Heroism is placed in employing life and despising death.- Proposals are issued at p. 98. to form an European Society of Education for the purpose of superintending, in the several countries, the national instruction of the multitude.
Book II. treats of education considered in connection with the improvement of the corporeal organs; and visionary hopes are excited, of perfecting the different organs of sense by appropriate exercises, so as to unite in every man the exquisite sensitiveness of the most diversely gifted animals. The soul is also said to have five senses, which are denominated the human sense, or the sentiment of humanity; the moral sense, or the sentiment of the right and good; the intellectual sense, or the sentiment of the true and false; the æsthetic sense, or the sentiment of the beautiful and sublime ; and the religious sense, or the sentiment of the holy and unholy. These five senses are treated as instincts essential to every individual, on the developement of which depends his moral character.
The third book discusses education as connected with human relations and affections. The author thinks (p. 205.) that women should marry between the age of twenty and forty, and that men should marry between the age of thirty and fifty. No wise man dies a bachelor, says M. ALPHONSE; le sage ne fut jamais sans compagne. He advances another doctrine, much more exceptionable: • la plus vertueuse de toutes les femmes est celle qui sait réparer ses foiblesses.? Kk 2
Some interesting notices are given respecting Vincent de Paul, a French priest born in 1576, who was distinguished for his zeal and skill in founding charitable institutions. He successively established a mission for the reformation of galleyslaves; a foundling hospital for forsaken children ; and a nunnery of nurses,
bound by vow to visit and attend the sick poor, gratis. He also preached sermons and obtained vast collections for the lunatic asylum at Bicêtre, for that of the Salpétrière, and of the Pitié.' Moreover, to local infirmaries at Marseilles and at Saintreine he rendered lasting services. These, exclaims the author, are the saints of humanity, whom every church should canonize for imitation.
In the fourth book, education is considered in its relation to society. The duties of decorum and example, as connected with the education of others, are well enforced ; and a revival of the office of public censors to rebuke the incautious and licentious is advised. In the eighth chapter, the author suggests a descending hospitality, or an orderly and habitual reception at table of the several ranks of our neighbours, as the most instructive, civilizing, reforming, and popular use of superior fortune. To keep a sort of gratuitous inn, at which merit may feast and misery may feed at any time, is the life which M. ALPHONSE recommends to a country-gentleman; and thus, continues he, (p. 287.) hospitality will become the educatress of the human race. He quotes and praises an Essay of Walckenaer on the History of the Human Species, noticed by us with attention in Vol. xxvii. N. S. p. 527.
Book V. relates to national education as far as it is influenced by climate. The gymnastic and military exercises, to be required of the citizens, must in some degree correspond with their geographical situation. The elementary books to be recommended for village-schools should differ from those that are used in large towns. Modern geography, and the history of our own country, form the fittest topics for those elementary works which are common to all schools.
A curious chapter discusses the education of domestic ani. mals, and well enforces the great importance and utility of treating them with tenderness and mildness. It is shewn, we think, successfully, that the breed of domestic animals mends in consequence of our kindness and gentle usage. Their intellects are greatly invigorated by the endeavour to understand hints rather than blows; and as, in the education of the human race, the oaths and abuse of the vulgar do not restrain or terrify children so much as the mildest appeals of the civilized to their sense of propriety, honour, or interest, so, in the training of our brute-animals, a high sense of honour, of fidelity to the master, of emulation against rival-beasts, and even of property and respect for undefended inclosures, may be superinduced by the skilful cattle-master. The politeness of the cow in keeping the path of her predecessor, and making way for whatever she meets, is traced with probability to traditional instruction : oxen make way for those whom they meet, but do not keep the path. We may find among animals, says the author, (p. 329.) all the virtues of men.
The sixth book refers to education as connected with the arts and sciences. Some good observations occur on the right of the state to interfere with education at manufactories, many of which endanger the health and military utility of the children employed. Apprenticeships are discussed as forms of education. The education of artists makes a separate chapter ; and also the education of genius.
M. ALPHONSE, in his seventh book, contemplates education as connected with the political relations of national society. The liberty of the press is eloquently pleaded in the sixth chapter; and in the eighth a dissertation occurs on the rights of man, among which the author places religion.
Education as it respects religion forms the topic of Book VIII. A good chapter is the fourth, which recommends universal toleration. M. ALPHONSE seems disinclined to the establishment of any positive doctrine, and to prefer a comprehensive latitudinarian worship, more like Deism than Christianity. He speaks, however, of Christ as l'Homme-Dieu. . A sixth chapter proposes the institution of various religious festivals, one of which is to be consecrated to the celebration of all the saints, or worthies, among mankind.
In the ninth book, he analyzes the drift or purpose of the founder of Christianity in his institutions for the education of the human race. A collection of moral apophthegms is made both from the Old and from the New Testament; and the universal spread of an epurated Christianity is anticipated.
The tenth and concluding book examines the connection of modern education with the primaval education of man, and is perhaps the most pedantic and least meritorious part of the whole. Altogether, this work is declamatory, but not unamusing. Its greatest fault is that it deals in generals, not in particulars; and so carefully are all locality of allusion and all temporary institutions kept out of sight, that the essay might have been penned in its present form in the antient Alexandria. This absence of detail detracts from the practical value of the production, and makes it exhibit only the ribs of the mould in which establishments for education should be cast.
It is perhaps not much to be wished that governments should take out of private hands the management of general education. Parents are better judges than the state, of the peculiar instruction which is requisite for the advancement of their children ; and, in behalf of the indigent and orphan classes, public beneficence makes a more adapted provision than that which would result from founding colleges of school-masters.
ART. X. Remarques faites dans un Voyage, &c.; i.e. Remarks
made during a Tour from Paris to Munich in the beginning of the Year 1813. By M. DEPPING, Member of the Philotechnic and Antiquarian Societies of Paris, &c. 8vo. pp. 96. Paris. 1814IF
our writers of travels could be induced to follow the ex
ample of M. DEPPING, their accounts would be more amusing and instructive, and less tiresome and expensive. It is not necessary for a tourist, when he appears before the public, to recount minute incidents respecting himself. We want not to be told every thing that happened, but only what is worth telling. Let him skim the cream of his journal, and, like the writer before us, present us with a selection of remarks made in the course of his route. This sensible traveller, indeed, reminds us that it was not his design to notice every object which occurred in his rambles : but to contribute to rectify and render more complete former descriptions, or to recall certain facts which require to be more known than they generally are. His method is excellent; and, within the compass of a few pages, he has compressed as much matter as some of our book-making gentry would have required for the construction of a large and handsome volume.
M. DEPPING presents us with the prominent features of every place through which he passes, without forgetting the names of those scholars or artists who by their learning and talents augment the celebrity of the towns in which they reside: but, as we can accomplish little more than a rapid glance at this gentleman's travelling remarks, we shall chiefly point to the prominent objects which arrested his attention. He begins with observing that, in the route from Paris to Strasburg, nothing of any importance presents itself till the traveller reaches Château-Thierry, where a fountain flows before the house in which La Fontaine was born ; - that Epernay is distinguished by the vast caves dug in the chalk-hills, for the convenience of depositing the Champagne wine in a proper degree of temperature; - that Châlons is badly built, and is surpassed by Vitry ;-that Bar-sur-Ornain had been infested by mad wolves, whose bite had been fatal in several instances;