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among all ranks would be productive of an increase of enjoyment. If a more extensive diffusion of knowledge would have a tendency to dissipate those superstitious notions and false alarms which have so long enslaved the minds of men-to prevent numerous diseases and fatal accidents-to accelerate the improvement of the physical sciences-to increase the pleasures and enjoyments of mankind-to promote the progress of the liberal and mechanical arts-to administer to the comforts of general society-to prepare the way for new inventions and discoveries-to expand our views of the attributes and moral government of the Deity-to advance the interests of morality-to prepare the mind for the pleasures and employments of the future world-to promote a more extensive acquaintance with the evidences, facts, and doctrines, of Revelation to prepare the way for the establishment of peace and harmony among the nations, and to promote the union and the extension of the Christian church ;-if such positions can be fairly proved, every philanthropist and every rational and well-directed mind will readily admit, that a more general cultivation of the human intellect, and a more extensive diffusion of rational information, are highly desirable, and would be productive of the most auspicious and beneficial results, in reference both to the present interests and the future prospects of mankind.
With regard to the practicability of this object, no rational doubt can be entertained, if the moral machinery requisite for its accomplishment were once thoroughly set in motion. Whatever Man has hitherto achieved, Man may still accomplish. If minds, once feeble and benighted, and ignorant as the wild ass's colt, have, by proper training, been raised near the highest pitch of moral and intellectual attainments, other minds, by similar training, may be elevated to the same degree of perfection. If nations, once rude and ignorant, as the Britons formerly were, have been raised to a state of civilization and refinement, and excited to cultivated the arts and sciences, the same means by which this object was accomplished, may still be employed in other cases to produce the same effect. If several portions, however small, of any civilized community, have been brought to a high state of intellectual improvement, it is evident, that the greater part, if not the whole, may be advanced into a similar state. It only requires that the means of instruction be simplified and extended, and brought within the reach of every one whose faculties are capable of cultivation. That this object has never yet been effected, is not owing to its impracticability, or to any insuperable obstacles which lie in the way of its accomplishment; but because the attention of mankind has never yet been thoroughly directed to it:
and because the means requisite for promoting it have never been employed on a scale proportionate to the extent and magnitude of the enterprise. The influential classes of society, in every country, have been more absorbed in the pursuits of avarice, ambition, war, devastation, and sensual gratifications, than in meliorating the physical and moral condition of their species. The tenth part of the treasures which have been wasted in the prosecution of such mad and immoral pursuits, had it been properly directed, would have been more than sufficient to have brought the means of instruction within the reach of every individual of the human race, and to have transformed the barren wastes of every country into the appearance of a terrestrial paradise. There is no Go vernment under heaven, so far as we are acquainted, (if Prussia and the United States of America be not excepted,) where the instruction of the great mass of the people forms a prominent and specific object in its administration. On the contrary, in several instances, even within the limits of Europe, it is well known, that the intellectual instruction of the lower orders is prohibited by a law.* Even in Great Britain, where the light of science shines with peculiar effulgence, the exertions of philantropists have been damped in their attempts to diffuse knowledge among the people; heavy taxes have been imposed on the means of its diffusion; men of knowledge have been persecuted and neglected, while men devoted to war and bloodshed have been loaded with wealth, and exalted to the highest stations of dignity and honour; no national scheme, supported by the state, has ever yet been devised for its universal propagation among all ranks, and no sums set apart for this purpose, while the treasures of the nation have been wasted in extravagance, and, in too many instances, devoted to the support of vice, tyranny, and intolerance.
But we trust that the breath of a new spirit is now beginning to animate the councils of the nation and the great body of the people; and when the means within our power of extending the blessings of knowledge shall be employed with energy and judg ment, we may expect, ere long, to behold a generation rising up, in intelligence and moral action, superior to all the generations that have gone before it-improving the soil, adorning the landscape, promoting the progress of the useful arts, enlarging the
For example,-A royal Sardinian Edict, published in 1825, enjoins, "that henceforth no person shall learn to read or write who cannot prove the possession of property above the value of 1500 livres," or about £62 10s. sterling. And it is well known, that the greater part of the lower lacces in Russia, Austria, and Poland, are, from their situation, debarred
the benefits of instruction.
boundaries of science, diffusing the blessings of Christianity over the globe, giving an impulse to every philanthropic movement, counteracting the spirit of war, ambition, and licentiousness, cultivating peace and friendly correspondence with surrounding nations, and forming an impregnable bulwark around every government where the throne is established in truth and in righteousness.
To state and illustrate the various means by which a more extensive diffusion of knowledge may be effected, and the genera! improvement of society promoted, is the main object of the following pages, in which the state of education in our country, and the principles on which it ought to be conducted, shall occupy our first, and our chief attention.
THERE is, perhaps, nothing of more importance to the human race, and which has a more direct bearing on the happiness of all ranks, than the cultivation of the mental faculties, and the acquisition of substantial knowledge. Whether we consider man as a transitory inhabitant of this lower world, or as in a state of progression to another region of existence-it is of the utmost importance, that he be thoroughly acquainted with the Great Author of his existence, with the general structure of the universe in which he is placed, with the relations in which he stands to his fellow-men, and the other beings which surround him, with the duties he ought to discharge to his Creator, and to his own species, with the nature of that eternal world to which he is destined, and with that train of action and of contemplation which will prepare him for the enjoyments of a future and eternal state. All the other objects which can employ the attention of the human mind must evidently be viewed as in some degree subordinate to these. For, on the acquisition of the knowledge to which we allude, and the corresponding course of conduct to which it leads, depends the happiness of man, considered both as an indivi dual, and as a member of the great family to which he belongshis happiness both in the present life, and in the life to come.
Nothing, however, appears to have been more overlooked, in the general arrangements of society, than the selection of the most proper means by which such important ends are to be accomplished. In those nations and societies which, in their progress from barbarity, have arrived at only a half-civilized state, the acquisition of the means of subsistence, and of those comforts which promote their sensitive enjoyment, forms almost the exclu sive object of pursuit; and it is not before they have arrived at a certain stage of civilization, that moral and intellectual improvement becomes an object of general attention. And, even in those nations which have advanced farthest in the path of science and of social refinement, the cultivation of the human mind, and the details of education, are not considered in that serious light which
their importance demands. Almost every thing else is attempted to be accurately adjusted, while the moral and intellectual improvement of the mass of the community is left either to the direction of chance, or to the injudicious schemes of weak and ignorant minds. Every one who has acquired a smattering of English grammar and arithmetic, and who can write his own name, conceives that he is qualified to conduct the intellectual improvement of the young; the most illiterate and superficial pedants have intruded themselves into the office of teachers; those who have never had the least experience in the art of teaching, nor have studied its principles, have assumed the prerogative of dictating the arrangements and discipline of a school; and hence, the office of a teacher of youth, which is one of the most important and respectable in the social system, has frequently been considered. as connected with the meanest talents, and with the lowest gradations in society.
Great Britain has long held a distinguished rank among the nations of Europe in the scale of science and of civilization, and on account of the numerous seminaries of instruction which have been established in every quarter of the island. Excepting Prussia, the United States of America, and the mountains and vales of Switzerland, there are few countries in which education is more generally appreciated and more widely diffused than in the northern district of Great Britain; and the effects produced by our literary and scholastic establishments are apparent in the desire for knowledge, and the superior intelligence which characterize the different ranks of our population. When we compare ourselves in this respect with the Russian boors, the Laplanders, the Calmucs, the Cossacks, or the Tartars, or even with the inhabitants of Naples, of Spain, or of Portugal, we seem to stand on an eminence to which they can scarcely hope to approach for a lapse of ages. On the other hand, when we compare ourselves with what we ought to be, as beings possessed of rational natures, and destined to immortality, and as surrounded with the light of science and of revelation,-we shall find that we are, as yet, but little more than just emerging from the gloom of moral depravity and mental darkness. When we consider the mass of depravity which is still hovering around us, the deplorable ignorance, the superstitious notions, the false conceptions in regard to many important truths, the evil passions, and the grovelling affections, which so generally prevail, we must acknowledge that much, much indeed, remains to be accomplished, before the great body of the people be thoroughly enlightened in the knowledge of all those subjects in which they are interested, as rational, accounta