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researches and experience of more than two thousand years, aided also by the supernal light of the Gospel, with its explicit declarations regarding the training of children, that we should be surpassed, according to the measure of their knowledge, in this important duty, both by Indians and Greeks, is a consideration that may well lead to the conclusion, that in practice we must have been labouring under some egregious error.
For nearly a century, Emulation had been suspected as a faulty instrument in education; but the late Mr. Wilberforce, in his work on “Practical Christianity,” has an eloquent chapter on the “ Desire of Human Estimation and Applause "; and, after tracing with a master-hand its pernicious effects, observes : “ This is the principle which parents recognise with joy in their infant offspring, which is diligently instilled and nurtured in advancing years, which, under the names of honourable ambition and of laudable emulation, it is the professed aim of schools and colleges to excite and cherish.” How can it be expected that the disorders of society should diminish while a principle of education is retained, condemned alike by experience and religion ?
“ Interdum puniunt immania scelera, cum alioquin scelerum irritamenta præbeant suis.”
It is remarked by the commentators on the passage in the New Testament where the Saviour is represented as driving out the mercenary traders from the temple, that the disciples, witnessing his courage and holy indignation, so different from the usual gentleness of his character, were so much excited by surprise as to be forcibly reminded of the cause ;—if there is one prevailing evil more hostile, by its all-pervading influence, to the spread of Christian benevolence than any other, it is that spirit of trade and selfishness engendered by competition.
. We are often reminded of the inventions and discoveries originating in competition, as if civilised society would fall back into barbarism, or sink into indolence, without the spirit of rivalry ; but we owe neither “Paradise Lost” nor the “ Principia” of Newton to the selfish stimulant—and Adam Smith himself observes :
“A great part of the machines made use of in those manufactures in which labour is most subdivided, were originally the inventions of common workmen, who, being each of them employed in some very simple operation, naturally turned their thoughts towards finding out easier and readier methods of performing it. In the first steam-engines a boy was constantly employed to open and shut alternately the communication between the boiler and the cylinder, according as the piston either ascended or descended. One of these boys, who loved to play with his companions, observed, that, by tying a string from the handle of the valve which opened the communication to another part of the machine, the valve would open and shut without his assistance, and leave him at liberty to divert himself with his play-fellows. One of the greatest improvements that has been made upon this machine, since it was first invented, was in this manner the discovery of a boy who wanted to save his own labour.”
In the best-conducted schools, where moral culture is more particularly attended to, emulation is now exploded; and if it were to be dispensed with in those of the Colony, it should also be rigidly excluded from all the rules and regulations. Children and adults must alike be governed by the same principles, or there would be no ConSISTENCY, and consequently no successful moral training
At the very commencement of Milton's Tract on Education, he asserts this great principle: “I am long since persuaded, Master Hartlib, that to say or do aught worth memory and imitation, no purpose or respect should sooner move us than simply the love of God and of mankind."
When the youthful mind dwells with admiration upon the high and generous purpose, the firm resolve, and the virtuous enterprise, recorded in the annals of history, prompting to great and noble exertion, while the pure and powerful motives of religion, under the fostering care of parental affection, are correcting the waywardness and encouraging the perseverance of youth, how worse than useless to offer the inferior inducement! But if the artificial stimulant and the glittering prize are superfluous in the weakness of childhood, how much less necessary when the reason has been strengthened by exercise, and the judgment matured; when the truth of the higher principle carries conviction to the understanding" ; when its gratifying effects in practice have enlisted the best feelings on its side, and its habitual exercise has rendered it almost a second nature !
It would be some mitigation of the pernicious consequences of factitious allurements or competition, if it failed only as an auxiliary, without cherishing the bad qualities of covetousness, envy, pride, and ambition, seducing from the path of duty and happiness, silencing the voice of conscience, and leading to a train of evils, which at length terminates in revenge, violence, and in that most dreadful of all the scourges of mankind, War.
“ War, Famine, Pest, Volcano, Storm, and Fire,
Intestine Broils, Oppression, with her heart
Are hammer'd to the galling Oar for life,
* No tyrant, the most heartless and cruel, ever inflicted such an extent of suffering and appalling misery on the human race as the present unchristian system, which, like an overwhelming incubus, weighs down in sorrow a despairing and broken-hearted people. A despot might be dethronied with some chance of an enlightened and humane successor; but what hope exists when rulers and theorists assure the working classes, surrounded by a profusion of wealth produced by their own industry, that their privations are inseparable from a commercial system, and the professors of religion pronounce their hard lot the dispensation of an over-ruling Providence, to be borne without a murmur? We too exhort the industrious classes to “do their duty in that state of life in which it has pleased God to call them ;' and the most imperative of all their duties is that of petitioning Parliament to abolish the premature and unhallowed employment of children of a tender age, often of feeble constitutions, and to devise measures more conducive to the welfare and happiness of the people, and more in accordance with the spirit of Christianity. The cheap postage was a great boon, and, like many other legislative acts, extorted by numerous petitions ;