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ART. II. An Essay on Education; in which are particularly consi.
dered the Merits and the Defects of the Discipline and Instruction in our Academies. By the Rev. William Barrow, LL.D. & F.A.S,, Author of the Bampton Lecture for 1799, and late Master of the Academy, Soho-Square, London. izmo. 2 Vols. 8s. Boards.
Rivingtons. 1802. As the science of Politics may be divided into two distinct
classes, the speculative and the practical ; and as different men, according as they happen to be more or less conversant' with public affairs, form their theory either from actual observation on the state of mankind, which is the only safe clue to direct their steps, or else from abstract notions of political justice, which perhaps will prove on trial to be visionary and inapplicable ; so, in the business of Education, systems are constructed partly by those who theorize in their closets on the powers and capacities of youth, and partly by those who have learned from their own experience the nature of those powers, and the most effectual method of imparting to thein cheir proper force and expansion.
In either case, however, whether in the republic of a school or a state, the prudent senator, much as he may approve the plans of the speculatist à priori, will be ready to listen with peculiar deference to those who have made the experiment, and have taken an active share in the administration of affairs. On this account, the essay of Dr. Barrow on Education is intitled to the attention of all who consult the interests of the rising generation : since he long presided with credit and success over one of the principal academies of the metropolis, and (as he informs us in his preface) has long had it in contemplation to communicate to the world his sentiments on this subject, Having now retired from public life, he has taken the opportunity of committing his thoughts to paper; regretting that he had not formerly begun to treasure up for future use those observations which occurred to him in the busy scene of ac, tion, because he might thus have presented his readers with a more exact and copious detail, than that which memory is able to retrace. A perusal of the work, however, manifests to us that the Doctor's memory is sufficiently correct to furnish many important and valuable counsels; and it is written with correctness and precision : evidently proceeding from the peu of a scholar and a gentleman, and free from any admixture of that affectation and pedantry which almost naturally attach to those who live apart from the world, and are long accustomed to be regarded as the oracle, “quem penes arbitrium est et jus et norma loquendi,”
After a judicious and well-written preface, we open the . ist chapter, On the Importance and Necessity of a right Educa.. tion.-Having defined the term Elucation, as it includes the whole system of thought and action which marks the future man, the Doctor points out its importance, in regard to both. the intellectual and the moral faculties. On the latter qualities, he thus remarks:
• One of the important advantages of discipline and instruction in early youth is the melioration of the temper. Without habitual subjection to precept and authority, every irritatioo irould break forth into violence and outrage, and every desire would become ungovern able; resentment of injuries, real or supposed, would exert itself in revenge; and impatience - of restraint would soon ripen into disobedience and rebellion. That total disguise of sentiment, which constitutes hypocrisy; that dishonourable suppression of feeling, which is subservient only to private interest ; the passive submission of a slave, and the art ful sycophancy of a courtier; these ought to excite in the ingenuous minds of youth only contempt and abhorrence. But that decent and settled command of temper, which a good education is known to give, and habit to confirm, this is useful and creditable alike to the individual and to society. To the former it preserves tranquillity of mind, and to the latter good humour and good manners. It guards the pleasure of the lighter amusements, facili. lates the transactions of business, and adds grace to the performance of moral duties
• There is another advantage resulting from the circumstances of a scholastic education, of more value to the future man, than will at first sight te casily supposed ; the power, by which, whatever can be done, can be done at once ; by which intellectual wealth can be im. mediately produced in current coin ; that self-possession, by which he can at all times determine and perform what the occasion requires ; that promptitude of thought and action, so essentially necessary ta eminence in any public profession; that really and spontaneous clo. quence, which is no less useful in business, than pleasing in conversa, tion ; that command over his inclinations and passions, which enables him to convert to his own purposes the passions and inclinations of others; that confidence in himself and his own strength, which guards him against surprize, and leads him to meet difficulty or danger without dismay;-these advantages, with all their various branches and dependencies, are, not indeed universally and exclusively, but the most early, the most frequently, and the most effectually, obiained from the discipline, the studies, and ihe amusements of a large and well regulated school. It is the observation of Bacon, that " Read. ing makes a full man, conversation makes a ready inan, and writing makes an exact man.” But unless the foundation of these various excellencies be laid in the usual season of instruction, a superstructure is seldom afterwards crected of much beauty or utility.'
From these considerations on the rectitude of the understanding and the heart, as dependent on a proper education,
the author proceeds to a higher object which education has in · view ; and our readers will be pleased with the manly and pious sentiments of Dr. B. on this head:
. For the support of virtue, education has a yet more solcmn task to perform, to instruct the student in the doctrines and precepts of the Christian religion. Some fanciful or malignant theorists of mo. dern times have, indeed, maintained, that every man should be left to form his own notions of the great Creator from the contemplation of his works, and to regulate his faith and worship by his owu disco. veries and his own conclusions. But it is found by experience that sentiments of picty seldom take firm possession of the mind, unless they are impressed upon it by the instruction and habits of early youth: and religion is to be considered, not only as forming the relation between man and his God, as creator and creature, as governour and subject; but as the support of the relation between man and man ; as the foundation and principle of moral and social duties. It is the only rule that is universal in its application; the only obligation that is intelligible and unanswerable; the only law that is sanctioned by adequate authority. In support of these sentiments we have the concurrent testimony of all ages and nations. Antient as well as modern legislators have united a religious establishment with their political institutions; and whether acquainted only with the doctrines of heathen superstition, or enlightened by the pure theology of the gospel, they have equally prescribed the instruction of youth in the faith and worship, as :vell as in the arts and sciences, of their country. Here then is the most momentous duty of education ; for here is, of all that is truly amiable and useful, the foundation and the completion; the beginning and the end. Religion is equally the basis of private virtue, and public faith ; of the happiness of the individual and the prosperity of the nation.'
In chap. 2d, Dr. Barrow combats the modern doctrine of the evils which result from the Prejudices of Education. It is here properly shewn that such is the nature of man, that what is called prejudice or prepossession must unavoidably be the ground-work of human principles and conduct; that few among the bulk of mankind can ever think and reason wholly for themselves; and that even those who do exercise those faculties wiil all be influenced, more or less, by early habits and impressions. This idea brings to our recollection an observation of a great writer, that “ man is a bundle of habits.” --Some remarks in this chapter, however, on the danger of enlightening the people, and on modern philosophism,' led us to suspect that the author is by no means an unprejudiced advocate for prejudice. It is the fashion of the times to employ the arts of declamation on these subjects; and while declaimers accuse the philosopher as the audax omnia perpeti," they themselves si ruunt Der fas nejasgue" to shield established usage. At the close of
the chapter, indeed, the Doctor with much modesty and candour disclaims all bigotry, and every wish to check the freedom of disquisition.
Chapter 3d treats of the Discipline and Instruction of Infants. On this subject, the author differs from some'modern theorists,' who propose to govern children by reason, and to convey instruction under the form of pleasure. It is here maintained, on the contrary, that authority must be exerted, and pleasure be made the reward of obedience. In several points, however, we observe that Dr. B. coincides with modern theorists ;' with Miss Hamilton, and others, respecting the proper treatment of children. He steers a just and middle course between the extremes of antient custom and modern reform.
In chapter 4, the subject so repeatedly canvassed is again renewed, On the comparative Advantages of public and private Education. The evils which certainly attend the private method, and even the present fashionable plan of a limited number of pupils, are here forcibly recounted; and the beneficial effects of a public school are placed in a favourable point of view. Concessions in the mean time are made by the author, which evince much candour and good sense, as will appear by the conclusion of the chapter ;
• In the observations that have been made upon the comparative advantages of publick and private education, it is not to be supposed that the result will always be precisely what has been stated. A thousand circumstances continually intervene to vary the effect of every system, and disappoint the conclusions of every calculation, Whatever mode be adopted, a wide difference will be made in the success by the various degrees of ability and diligence exerted by different teachers, and still more by the varieties of capacity and temper in their different pupils. Private' tuition has sometimes produced men of the most brilliant talents; and dulness and stupidity have often issued from our publick schools. But supposing the dif. ferent students equally endowed by nature, and the same judgment and exertions in the respective preceptors, the effects that have been stated from the diffcrent modes of instruction may most reasonably and usually be expected. The natural fertility of the soil cannot even by mismanagement be wholly suppressed; nor can its sterility by any skill and care be so successfully cultivated, as to yield a richa and luxuriant produce.
• Nor is it to be supposed that any system of education can be adopted, which shall coinprehend every possible benefit, and exclude every possible inconvenience. In almost every thing human a com. promise must be made. As we approach one advantage, we generally recede from another; and a greater evil can sometimes be avoided only by submitting to a less. Though in the important business of education we must relinquish speculative perfection for attainable excellence, yet happily something like an union between
private and public instruction may be formed. While the student attends his school during the day, le may in the evening receive the assistance of a private teacher; not, certainly, to save him the labour of performing his own exercise ; not to prevent, but stimulate, the exertion of his own powers; to explain to hiin the subject proposed; to illustrate the principles of composition; to relieve him from any difficulty, that may impede his progress; to enable him to proceed aright, or to correct what is amiss ; to supply, in short, whatever the regulations of the school may not admit, or the thoughtlessness of the youth may have neglected. Even this scheme is not without its difficulties and objections. And while soine of our publick schools continue it, from their experience of its utility; others have rejected it, from a knowledge of its abuses. i his, however, is the plan which I can venture to recommend with the greatest confidence : because I have seen it attended with the most beneficial effects. No system, lowever it may deserve success, can always command it. No future event, depending on human wisdom and human passions, can be considered as certain.'
The 5th chapter treats on the Choice of a School.-With respect to the great endoved schools of this country, Dr. B. considers them as nearly equal, and all of them worthy of a parent's choice. In academies, he recommends the parent to attend to the moral character and known accomplishments of the master; to prefer a clergyman of the established church, and a situation in the country. · Chapter 6th, On consulting the Genius in order to determine the Profession, is well worthy the attention of parents; and we particularly recommend the advice giren in the following passages :
If there be any strong and unequivocal marks of aptitude and inclination for a particular pursuit ; whether given by nature or the nursery, whether the result of instinct or of accident; they may generally be very early and very easily discovered ; and ought certainly to have their weight in the choice of a profession. But the existence of this natural genius is so doubtful, or its effects so feeble, that it rarely can be depended on ; and need not be much regarded. In fixing a youth's future occupation in the world, our attention will he claimed by objects of much greater importance ; because of much more infiuence upon his prosperity and his virtue.
Let the parent's situation in life be first maturely considered ; his rank and his property, his interest, his connections and his prospects. These will best determine the destination of the son: as it is within the circle of these, that his father can most effectually assist and support him. Ambitions efforts to push him beyond these more frequently briog ridicule and repentance, than wealth, honour, or enjoyment. His own desire of distinction will probably require re. straint, rather than encouragement ; the curb, rather than the spur. To indulge a youth in the various luxuries of his apparel and his table, of company, expences and dissipation, beyond the just mcasure of his