« VorigeDoorgaan »
and Aquitimo his brother, followed by the infidels. A battle was fought, Aquitimo was taken and put to death, and christianity was for a time established in Congo; but the nation has relapsed into its former follies.
Such was the state of the Portuguese navigation, when, in 1492, Columbus made the daring and prosperous voyage, which gave a new world to European curiosity and European cruelty. He had offered his proposal, and declared his expectations to king John of Portugal, who had slighted him as a fanciful and rash projector, that promised what he had not reasonable hopes to perform. Columbus had solicited other princes, and had been repulsed with the same indignity; at last Isabella of Arragon furnished him with ships, and having found America, he entered the mouth of the Tagus in his return, and showed the natives of the new country. When he was admitted to the king's presence, he acted and talked with so much haughtiness, and reflected on the neglect which he had undergone with so much acrimony, that the courtiers, who saw their prince insulted, offered to destroy him; but the king, who knew that he deserved the reproaches that had been used, and who now sincerely regretted his incredulity, would suffer no violence to be offered him, but dismissed him with presents and with honours.
The Portuguese and Spaniards became now jealous of each other's claim to countries which neither had yet seen; and the Pope, to whom they appealed, divided the new world between them by a line drawn from north to south, a hundred leagues westVol. II. U
ward from Cape Verd and the Azores, giving all that lies west from that line to the Spaniards, and all that lies east to the Portuguese. This was no satisfactory division, for the east and west must meet at last, but that time was then at a great distance.
According to this grant, the Portuguese continued their discoveries eastward, and became masters of much of the coast both of Africa and the Indies; but they seized much more than they could occupy, and while they were under the dominion of Spain, lost the greater part of their Indian territories.
A GENERAL PLAN OF EDUCATION.
"HE importance of Education is a point so
generally understood and confessed, that it would be of little use to attempt any new proof or illustration of its necessity and advantages.
At a time when so many schemes of education have been projected, so many proposals offered to the Publick, so many schools opened for general knowledge, and so many lectures in particular sciences attended ; at a time when mankind seems intent rather upon familiarising than enlarging the several arts; and every age, sex, and profession, is invited to an acquaintance with those studies, which were formerly supposed accessible only to such as had devoted themselves to literary leisure, and dedicated their powers to philosophical inquiries; it seems rather requisite that an apology should be made for any further attempt to smooth a path so Published in 1748, by Dodsley.
frequently beaten, or to recommend attainments so ardently pursued, and so officiously directed.
That this general desire may not be frustrated, our schools seem yet to want some book, which may excite curiosity by its variety, encourage diligence by its facility, and reward application by its usefulness. In examining the treatises hitherto offered to the youth of this nation, there appeared none that did not fail in one or other of these essential qualities; none that were not either unpleasing, or abstruse, or crowded with learning, very rarely applicable to the purposes of common life.
Every man, who has been engaged in teaching, knows with how much difficulty youthful minds are confined to close application, and how readily they deviate to any thing, rather than attend to that which is imposed as a task. That this disposition, when it becomes inconsistent with the forms of education, is to be checked, will be readily granted; but since, though it may be in some degree obviated, it cannot wholly be suppressed, it is surely rational to turn it to advantage, by taking care that the mind shall never want objects on which its faculties may be usefully employed. It is not impossible, that this restless desire of novelty, which gives so much trouble to the teacher, may be often the struggle of the understanding starting from that to which it is not by nature adapted, and travelling in search of something on which it may fix with greater satisfaction. For without supposing each man particularly marked out by his genius for particular performances, it may be easily conceived, that when a numerous
class of boys is confined indiscriminately to the same forms of composition, the repetition of the same words, or the explication of the same sentiments, the employment must, either by nature or accident, be less suitable to some than others; that the ideas to be contemplated may be too difficult for the apprehension of one, and too obvious for that of another; they may be such as some understandings cannot reach, though others look down upon them as below their regard. Every mind in its progress through the different stages of scholastiek learning, must be often in one of these conditions, must either flag with the labour, or grow wanton with the facility of the work assigned; and in either state it naturally turns aside from the track before it. Weariness looks out for relief, and leisure for employment, and surely it is rational to indulge the wanderings of both. For the faculties which are too lightly burthened with the business of the day, may with great propriety add to it some other inquiry: and he that finds himself over wearied by a task, which, perhaps, with all his efforts, he is not able to perform, is undoubtedly to be justified in addicting himself rather to easier studies, and endeavouring to quit that which is above his attainment, for that which nature has not made him incapable of pursuing with advantage.
That therefore this roving curiosity may not be unsatisfied, it seems necessary to scatter in its way such allurements as may withhold it from an useless and unbounded dissipation ; such as may regulate it without violence, and direct it without restraint; such as may suit every inclination, and fit every