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if it be established, is of itself sufficient to condemn it:—we mean that which relates to the moral influence of the classics. We do not deny that there is much in the writings of pagan antiquity that is false in principle, and corrupt in morality, ^and which, if unguardedly imbibed, can hardly fail to vitiate the youthful mind; but if, as should always be the case, judicious selections be made, and if whatever that is offensive even in these be made the subject of appropriate comment, we conceive that the effect) so far from being injurious, will be highly salutary.' When does theworship of the only true God appear more rational than when compared with the absurdities of heathen mythology? When do His character and attributes appear more glorious, than when He is contrasted with the contentious and libidinous deities of Greece and Rome? Who can Contemplate with such profound admiration, the pure principles and the glorious hopes of Christianity, as the classical scholar? The humblest and most ignorant follower of the Cross, indeed, may look forward with joyful confidence to a blissful existence beyond the grave; but it is for him who has heard a Cicero, when contemplating that future state, exclaim, as if in anxious doubt, 'If I err, it is a pleasing error,'—it is for such a one to appreciate the assertion that ' life and immortality have been brought to light through the Gospel.' All can admire the mild and peaceable spirit inculcated by Christianity; but it is for him who has seen inscribed on the schools of ancient philosophy, and has heard from the lips of its greatest masters, that ' revenge for an injury is as great a virtue as gratitude for a favor,'—it is for him to feel, with full force, that the religion which teaches us to love our enemies is not the cunningly devised scheme of a carpenter's son, nor the invention of ignorant fishermen, but that, like its Author, it emanated from the bosom of God.
Supposing then the objection to the moral tendency of classical learning to be removed, we come to what at present more immediately concerns us,-—the consideration of the propriety of substituting for it other studies, which, as is alleged, are more interesting in their character, and of greater practical utility.
That this study is in itself uninteresting, we cannot admit; that the modes of pursuing it may be so, we cannot deny. But when it is entered upon with due preparation, and prosecuted with proper guides, it is a path strewed with flowers, and which becomes more and more pleasing at each succeeding step; and if occasionally obstacles present themselves to the student, they do but afford him a faint representation of the course of his subsequent life, for which he will be ill qualified if he has not previously undergone that mental discipline by which he is taught to grapple with difficulties, and even to delight in the encounter..
But it is urged again that this is not a study of practical utility.— The answer to this objection will depend upon the meaning attached to that expression. If by ' studies of practical utility' be meant those only which have an immediate bearing Upon a man's business in life, we ask, What branches of liberal learning can be considered as answering that description? Why should the mass of the community be acquainted with the history of other days, or the manners and customs of other nations 1 What need have they of mathematics beyond the elementary rules of arithmetic 1 Why should they explore the external world to discover its constitution and laws, or turn their observation inward, upon the more mysterious operations of their own minds 1— What matters it to them to know whether the canopy above is filled with immense suns, the sources of light and heat to other systems, or is merely lighted up by innumerable tapers? Whether the meteors which occasionally flash through our atmosphere with a momentary splendor, are the fragments of some shattered planet, or the ' snuffings of the candles of heaven?' The starry host will perform their accustomed round, the fruitful showers will continue to descend, and the earth to bring forth her increase, the generations of men will come and go,—all the operations of nature will take place with their wonted regularity, alike whether man be informed or uninformed of their laws. It is true that such knowledge may render them much more subservient to our purposes; but if this be the only object, it needs but a few to accomplish it. The engineer can lay out our rail-roads and canals; the mechanician can invent and construct our machines; the astronomer can calculate our almanacs and nautical tables; the chemist can explore the elements of nature, and combine them for the use of the artist. So that, for all the purposes of practical utility, in this low and contracted view of it, learning need never have emerged from the retirement of the study. But if by ' studies of practical utility' be meant those which tend to make happier men and better citizens, which add to private enjoyment, to personal influence and respectability, then we say let all the treasures of literature and science be brought within the reach of all; let history and geography be studied, to enlarge and liberalize their views; mathematics, to teach the art of demonstrative reasoning; the physical sciences to develop the philosophy of experiment and induction; the ancient languages, to cultivate the taste, to exercise the judgment, to strengthen the memory, and to furnish an unfailing source of elegant and rational enjoyment. They all, as before remarked, have their appropriate offices and advantages. The very fact that some of them are better adapted to particular individuals than others, sufficiently proves that they call into exercise -different faculties, and that therefore the course of instruction which does not combine them all, cannot impart a complete education. 1 <•
Nor should the number and variety of these studies be made an objection to their all receiving a share of attention. The cultivation of one does not interfere with that of another. I appeal to the experience of every teacher, whether the diminution of the number of a pupil's studies, provided they have been adapted to his years and capacity, promotes, in any degree, his proficiency in the remainder; or whether it be not true, that a diminution of exercise is often followed by a diminution of strength. The best linguist in a class may not always be the best mathematician; but he is not the worse mathematician for bemg a good linguist: on the contrary, the union of the two studies is much more likely to promote success in each. For as the strengthening of any one member of the body imparts a vigor to the whole system, so the exercise of the mind upon one subject does but qualify it for more efficient application to another.
As the knowledge of any one branch is not increased, so neither is the time of acquiring it diminished by the omission of other branches. It does not follow, because a certain number of studies can be comprebended in a given number of years, that, therefore, any one of- them will take a proportionally less time. During the period that is devoted to education, the youthful mind is in a course of gradual development, to which the different studies, and the different stages of each study, must be accommodated; and until the faculties have attained a corresponding growth, it is as incompetent to grasp the higher portions of any one study, as of all. The truth of this remark may be illustrated by the analogy of nature, in her operations in the material world. A productive soil may, at the same time, bring forth a variety of fruits; but by no diminution of the number, and by no improvement in the system of culture, can any one of them be ripened to its just maturity, until the appropriate season has rolled around.
If then it be true, that a close attention to all the branches of a liberal education is the best means of securing high attainments in each, or at any rate, what is more important, of promoting the vigor and energy of the mind, why should any of them be neglected by those who have an opportunity to prosecute them? Surely not to indulge the indolence of the student, nor to gratify the whims of mere theorists in education.
But it may be objected by some shrewd calculators, that, if the youth be not destined for professional life, such a full course of study, or, indeed, the thorough prosecution of any portion of it, will prolong the period of pupilage beyond the time at which he would be fitted for business. It cannot be denied that in the present prosperous state of our country, most young men could obtain a support prior to the age usually allotted to the termination of a college course. But let it be recollected that the race is not to him that starts first, but to him that comes to it invigorated and disciplined by previous training;—that though the well educated youth may be delayed in his entry into business, yet he will eventually commence it with a larger and more available capital.
But did there exist any such pecuniary disadvantages in this delay as are represented, still the moral benefit would more than counterbalance them. When a young man is sent into the world with just enough of learning to make him flippant and conceited, with judgment immature, and principles unformed, it cannot be expected that he should be prepared to resist those temptations with which places of business are always beset. It is this, accordingly, which has filled the gaming table, and thronged the theatre,—which has brought disgrace upon many a son, and anguish upon many a family. When a ship is launched upon the deep, the prudent mariner is careful to provide whatever may contribute to her safety; but our youth are sent forth upon the voyage of life, with swelling sails, it may be, but often without ballast, or compass, or helm, amid rocks and whirlpools more dangerous that Scylla and Charybdis, to encounter storms more terrible than ever opposed the wanderer of Ithaca. What wonder, then, that so many of them meet with shipwreck and death.
But it is useless to attack all the Protean forms which the objections to a liberal education have assumed. We conceive that they have all been answered, if the position has been established, that the grand business of intellectual education is to train the faculties of the mind, and that this training is best effected by a union of all the branches
Vol. VI.—October, 1835. 38
of literature and science, which are adapted to the comprehension of youth.
If this view of the subject be correct, then female education has been sadly misunderstood. What though, in woman, the brightest endowments of genius, and the greatest acquisitions of learning must, for the most part, shine unseen; yet, does the companion and partner of man, the mother and nurse of the future hopes of the state, the Church, and the world, need no expansion and discipline of mind? Away then with the mean and contracted notion, that the merest rudiments of education will answer for a female; that she needs no geography but that of her own house, no arithmetic but that of domestic expenses, no art but the culinary, no science but that of economy. The sentiment that female ignorance is the mother of domestic bliss, originated with that kindred sentiment, that ignorance is the mother of devotion, and should with it have long ago been consigned to its primitive darkness. Let it no 9 longer be countenanced in this enlightened age, but let us afford to woman an education that shall enable her to claim with justice, and to maintain with dignity, that station in society, which is now too often held by the slender tenure of courtesy.
If the view which we have taken of education be correct, then let parents not select for their children an occupation in life, perhaps before they can lisp its name, and educate them with exclusive reference to this. Until their faculties are developed, it cannot be known for what station they maybe qualified. He whose genius you would cramp by some inferior employment, may be destined to enlighten the world.— Give him, then, the best education within your power; and though he should fulfil no such high expectations—though upon the termination of his course of instruction, he should close his books of science and literature for ever—nay, though it were possible that every vestige of positive information which he had derived from them, could be obliterated from his memory, still his time and his labor will not have been spent for nought. Where are the products of your own childish sports and boyish exercises? They have vanished with the hour that gave them birth; but the graceful form, the manly vigor, and the robust health, which they imparted, still remain as substantial proofs of their utility.
If the view which we have taken of education be correct, then, young gentlemen, neither is it for you, at this early period, to be forming projects for your subsequent career, and in consequence to neglect whatever, in your opinion, will not further them; for be assured, that as you know not what may be your future course, so, whatever it may be, no portion of knowledge which you may acquire will ever be found useless. Nor must you suppose that such an education can be obtained by a bare attendance within the walls of a seminary, however judicious may be the course of instruction, or however competent the preceptors. It has been well said by an eminent writer, that 'there is nothing more absurd than the common notion of instruction, as if science were to be poured into the mind like water into a cistern, that passively waits to receive all that comes. The growth of knowledge rather resembles that «f fruit; however external causes may in some degree co-operate, it is the internal vigor and virtue of the tree that must ripen the juices to their just maturity.' Your parents, therefore, may afford you every facility with the most lavish kindness; your teachers may labor in your instruction with the most unwearied assiduity, but all will be of little avail, unless there be superadded the hearty co-operation of your own vigorous exertions. In this sense you must all be self-educated. Go on, then, as J am happy to know that many of you have already begun, go on, and imitate the example of the diminutive but instructive model of industry; the bitterest herb, as well as the most fragrant flower, will alike yield honey to your toil.— Go on, and in the mock combats of the gymnasium, prepare yourselves for the din, the dust, the keen encounter of that war of real life, in which the excellence of the weapons, and the skill of the combatants, must decide the victory.
Delivered to the Peithologian Society of the Wesleyan University, August 25, 1835, by the Hon. E. Jackson, Jun'r.
Wesleyan University, August 27, 1835. To the Hon. E. Jackson, Jun'r.,
Sir,—As a committee of the Peithologian Society, and as individuals, permit us to tender you our most hearty thanks for the oration delivered by you on the 25th instant, before the society to which we are attached.
By a unanimous vote we are ordered to request a copy of that address for publication, which we trust you will grant, as we know that an intelligent public cannot but be incited by its able advocacy of polite literature and practical education, to extend more zealous support to all institutions which have these as a part of their object. And we would urge the publication of it from the farther motive, that we feel that its tendency will be to counteract that degrading doctrine, so rife in the world, teaching that all learning is a burden and extravagance, which does not bring with it an immediate or prospective increase of wealth.
We take pleasure in informing you, sir, that Dr. Bangs, the editor of the Methodist Quarterly Review, requests that the address make its appearance in the next number of that periodical.
With sentiments of the highest respect, we are, sir, your most obedient servants, John W. Burruss, J
T. Bangs Thorp, \ Committee.
(Mr. Jackson's Reply.)
August 28, 1835. Gentlemen,—Though the address of which you request a copy is very unworthy of publication, it is at your service to dispose of as you may think proper. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. Jackson, Jun'r.
To Messrs. John W. Burruss, \
T. Bangs Thorp, \ Committee.