for instruction or to find practical opportunity for it at home. They were so trained that they looked upon their scholars as the non-commissioned officers look on the soldiers in the ranks, com- . manding their attention by sharp words and sometimes by blows, and knowing nothing and teaching nothing unless it was prescribed by authority. The effort to secure teachers' meetings failed for want of any common topics of interest in their profession. Their “ Journals” were a fair transcript of the sort of instruction supplied. Breal says the contents of one number were leading articles on general politics, iron plated ships, highways, court proceedings, a stock list, and a new novel. Of course all the decrees of the minister of education, and all appointments or changes in the school personnelle were faithfully chronicled, but not a word on the questions of instruction, its methods and its science. Now a fair test of excellence of public school education may be made by an examination of three leading subjects, grammar, geography, history. But the books used in each of these branches are of the most superficial and unsatisfactory kind. French is taught as if it were one of the dead languages, and very badly done at that. The universal ignorance of geography has become a by-word and reproach to Frenchmen since the events of the late war with Germany revealed its extent and influence in all classes. The schools are mainly responsible for this ignorance. They make it only a matter of memory, and names of mountains, rivers and cities are put cach by themselves, so that the pupil has forgotten the one before he gets to the other, and never knows the country to which all three belong. Frenchmen are just as ignorant of the topography of their own country, and of its political and commercial relations. Outside of their own provinces they know less and have as little interest as for the affairs of Africa or Asia.

The centralization that has made Paris what it is, has systematically ignored all the rest of France. The other provinces have lost all their old identity and have no new ties to each other, so that in spite of the high sounding phrases of the various governments that carried on the war with Prussia, many of the departmeats, it is said, never furnished their contingents of men or material. The popular ignorance of all foreign countries was astonishing, and Frenchmen were surprised as much by the indif

ference of other countries to the fate of France as by the more immediate results of the war.

This it is, too, that makes the French bad colonists, and even Algiers, one of their own provinces, is a terra incognita to the bulk of the people, who ought to be its best immigrants. In history, too, the French schools go little beyond mere memorizing, and the school histories are so exclusively devoted to French con. quests and glory that little space is left for other and more useful information. There are almost no popular elementary books to teach the ancient history of the provinces of France, of Lorraine, of Normandy, ot Languedoc, with their heroes that once filled all Europe with their fame; all history begins in French books with the French monarchy, and the monuments of an earlier day that meet the eye, and often make the fame of a town, are rarely known as part of a glory that belongs to the France of a past time. Even the mere ability to read is rarely reached, and if public schools only excite a love of reading they do good, yet of a hundred wounded men visited by Gabriel Monod, only four or five cared to read at all, and only two to read a book of any real value. Indeed the authors of France show in their style and subjects that they do not write for the masses of their countrymen. Moliere and La Fontaine were no more limited in the class they sought to address than are Lamartine, and Victor Hugo and Alfred de Musset, with their elegancies of speech, and niceties of style, that imply high culture in their readers. Even the statesmen and political writers, such as Tocqueville, Laboulaye, Vacherot, Jules Simon, seek in vain to popularize the important principles which they advocate with such eloquence. Thus the distance is daily growing wider between the two classes ; on the one hand those who think, who lead and follow intelligently the leaders of public opinion, and on the other those who are ignorant alike of politics, of literature, of all that can come to them only by books and reading; even the works of the so-called popular leaders, of Rousseau, of Proudhon, of Louis Blanc, are too full of abstract discussions to reach the masses for whom they are meant.

The schools are responsible for the disasters that have overwhelmed France, for instead of giving real instruction they have simply perpetuated the ignorance and the blunders of earlier generations. The unlimited confidence of Frenchmen in themselves was taught in every school book. Even Duruy, in his school histories, measured everything by a comparison with France, and always to the advantage of his own country, so that Frenchmen of every rank, and of all opinions, were taught the needlessness of ever looking beyond their own borders for any good thing, or of ever fearing any danger from without. Now that the natural result of all this is shown in the catastrophies of the late war, there is still an unwillingness to give up the old system, but until that is supplanted by a newer and better common school education, there is little gained from the past, little to be hoped for the future. .


Thine angel hides from thee the secret things
Of heavenly truth and our Lord's grace divine.
Great task is thine to give the law that binds
In one all facts of nature and of life-
A work for human intellect alone,
A lowly, patient, unassisted work,
Spoiled by one ray froin upper sphere let in.
With Christian faith we wait, but cannot help,
Well if we hinder not by causeless fear.
One day, with every touch and line complete,
This work of noble art, of science grand,
Perchance may bear the flood of heavenly light,
And to its earthly meaning, pure and clear,
Will add a fuller, richer spirit-sense.

A. M.


“Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
“Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
“ Brought death into the world.” * *

“She plucked, she eat ;
“ Earth felt the wound, and nature from her seat,

“ Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe
“ That all was lost. * * * * *
“ Earth trembled from her entrails, as again
“In pangs, and nature gave a second groan;
“Sky lowered, and mutt'ring thunder some sad drops
“Wept at completing of the mortal sin
“ Original; while Adam took no thought,
“Eating his fill.”

Milton. “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."

St. Paul. M AN is by nature a moral and religious being; and the truth

of the Christian religion is established upon its own proper evidence. Man is also by nature a rational and inquisitive being; and the truth of science, when ascertained, rests likewise upon its appropriate evidence. The nature of religion is to reject no truth; the vocation of science is to embrace all truth. To array science against religion, or religion against science, is therefore unnatural ; to suppose a real antagonism between them is absurd. Error may conflict with error, and must conflict with truth; but truth cannot conflict with truth; every truth must be consistent with every other; for all truth is one.

The apparent contradictions which, from time to time, emerge between science and revealed religion, arise mostly from hasty generalizations or ill-founded theories on the one side, or from false interpretations of Scripture or baseless prejudices on the other. The antipathies, the virulence, the odium of the strife belong to the disputants, not to the subjects in dispute. The antagonism is not between science and religion, but between some scientists and some religionists; and the conflict does not result from the knowledge, but from the ignorance, the one-sidedness, the narrow-mindedness of the combatants on either side.

It would be easy to illustrate from manifold instances how the attacks of scientific men upon religion are based, not upon established and admitted scientific truths, but upon premature conclusions and plausible theories. But it is proposed, in this paper, to invite attention to a case in which the collision arises from prevailing religious dogmas based only upon traditional and popular prejudice and a false, or at least arbitrary, interpretation of Scripture.

The dogmas or notions referred to are those to which Milton is supposed to have given expression :

(1) That decay, corruption and death had never been known upon earth, among any of God's creatures, until Adam's fall.

(2) That consequent upon man's transgression there ensued a grand physical catastrophe, a stupendous cosmical disturbance and derangement, an instantaneous blight and ruin through all the works of nature, in earth and air, and sky and orbs of heaven, in organic and inorganic things, in animal and vegetable forms, in gases and in rocks, in light and heat, and in electric forces.

(3) The now carnivorous beasts, which before had lived a happy family in graminivorous gentleness, then first began to grow long teeth, to ravin, to tear and devour their fellows, and one species of animals to feed upon another. Then comets began to blaze athwart the sky, and sun and stars to dart disastrous rays, and extremes of heat and cold to blast the face of nature. Then lightnings began to flash, thunders to roll, and tempests to sweep the earth and heaven. Then the central terrestrial fires began to smoulder, volcanoes to belch and blaze, and earthquakes to heave the solid ground-in short, “nature sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe that all was lost.”

Now, this being preached as a revealed truth of God's Word, as a dogrna of the Christian religion, science is utterly scandalized; she asserts, on the contrary:

(1) That long before any period to which the creation of Adam can be assigned consistently with Biblical history, long before the introduction of the present race of man upon earth as ascertained by geological observations, even though that creation or introduction were put back not to six thousand, but to sixty times six thousand years, there had been innumerable races and generations of animals—saurians, iguanodons, megatheria—which had lived and died upon the earth. Nor can this be denied, except upon the principle of reasoning, upon which some theologians, when pressed by paleontological discoveries, have suggested that the fossil bones may never have belonged to any animals at all, but may be mere imitations originally made in situ as they are found.

(2) That there are no marks of such a catastrophe or cataclysm

« VorigeDoorgaan »