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ble, and immortal beings, and before they can be induced to give a decided preference to moral pursuits and intellectual pleasures. And, if this is the case in a nation designated civilized and enlightened, how thick must be the darkness which broods over the inhabitants of other regions of the globe, how deep the moral debasement into which they are sunk, and how many vigorous efforts must be requisite, ere they can be raised to the true dignity of moral and intellectual agents! If ever this important object is to be accomplished-which the predictions of ancient prophecy leave us little room to doubt-it is now high time that we arouse ourselves from our slumbers, and engage with increased activity and zeal in the work of reformation and of rational instruction. Let us not imagine that the preaching of the gospel, in the dull and formal manner by which it is at present characterized, will effectuate this great object, without the use of all the efficient means of juvenile instruction we can devise. While we boast of the privileges of our favoured land, of the blessings of Divine Revelation, and of the enlightened era in which we live; and while we are endeavouring to impart to distant nations the bless. ings of science and of the Christian religion;-let us not forget, that there are thousands of the young generation around us, under the show of having obtained a good education, rising up in life, in a state of ignorance and vice, in consequence of the superficial and injudicious modes by which they have been tutored, and which prevent them from profiting by the instructions of the ministers of religion.

While the great body of mankind must necessarily be engaged in manual employments, and while it is essential to their happiness, as well as to their bodily subsistence, that a portion of their time be thus employed, it would be a highly desirable object to induce upon their minds a taste for intellectual pursuits, and for those pure enjoyments which flow from a contemplation of the works and providence of the Creator, and of those moral laws and arrangements which he has ordained for promoting the social order and the eternal happiness of mankind, in which those hours not devoted to worldly business might be occasionally employed. As man is a being compounded of a corporeal organized structure, and a system of intellectual powers, it evidently appears to have been the intention of the Creator that he should be frequently employed both in action and in contemplation. But when his physical powers only are set in motion, and the principal object of his activity is to supply the wants of his animal frame, he can be considered as little superior to the lower orders of animated

existence, and must, in a great measure, frustrate the end of his Creator in bestowing upon him the faculties of his rational nature.

In order to raise mankind from the state of mental darkness and moral degradation into which they have fallen, it is essentially requisite, that the utmost care be bestowed on the proper direction of the youthful mind, in its first excursions in the physical and moral world; for when it has proceeded a certain length, amidst the mists of ignorance and the devious ways of vice, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recall it from its wanderings to the path of wisdom and felicity. Instructions, not merely in reference to sounds and accents, and accurate pronunciation, but also in relation to important facts, and the various properties and relations of objects around them, must be communicated at an early age; and not merely the names, but the ideas, of the most interesting objects in the physical and intellectual world, must be conveyed by a succession of well-defined mental imagery, and sensible illustrations, so as to arrest and impress the juvenile mind, and excite its energies and affections in the pursuit of knowledge and virtue. Without an attention to this important object, the business of elementary instruction appears to regard man rather as a mere machine than as a rational and immortal being, and seems to be little short of an insult offered to the human understanding. The ultimate object of all scholastic instruction ought undoubtedly to be, to convey to youthful minds substantial knowledge, to lead them gradually into a view of the nature and qualities of the objects with which they are surrounded, of the general appearances, motions, and machinery of external nature, of the moral relations in which they stand to the Great Author of their existence, and to one another, and of the various duties which flow from these relations,-to direct their affections, tempers, and passions, in such a channel as will tend to promote their own comfort, and the harmony of general society, and to prepare them for the nobler employments of an immortal existence. Such moral and intellectual instructions ought to go hand in hand with the acquisition of the various combinations of sounds and syllables, and with the mechanical exercises of writing and ciphering; otherwise the beneficial consequences, which should result from instruction in the common branches of education, will be few and unimportant. Whether the prevailing modes of education in this country be calculated to promote the ends now stated, will åppear, when we come to investigate the range of our elementary instruction, and the circumstances connected with the manner of its communication. Before proceeding to this investigation, I shall take a rapid view of the present state of education in different 'civilized nations.

CHAPTER I.

Present state of Education in different Countries.

For a long period, even after the introduction of Christianity among the nations of Europe, the education of the young seems to have been in a great measure neglected. The records of history afford us no details of any particular arrangements that were made either by the church or the state for promoting this important object. During the long reign of Papal superstition and tyranny, which lasted for nearly a thousand years, the instruction of the young appears to have been entirely set aside, or, at least, to have formed no prominent object of attention. The common people grew up, from infancy to manhood, ignorant of the most important subjects, having their understandings darkened by su perstition, their moral powers perverted, and their rational faculties bewildered and degraded, by an implicit submission to the foolish ceremonies and absurdities inculcated by their ecclesiastical dictators; and even many in the higher ranks of life, distinguished for their wealth and influence in society, were so untutored in the first elements of learning, that they could neither read nor write. Ignorance was one of the foundations on which the splendour and tyranny of the Romish hierarchy were built, and therefore it would have been contrary to its policy, and the schemes it had formed of universal domination, to have concerted any measures for the diffusion of knowledge and the enlightening of mankind. We read of no nation or community, during the dark ages, that devised plans for the rational and religious instruction of youth, excepting a poor, oppressed, and despised people "of whom the world was not worthy"-the pious and intelligent, but persecuted Waldenses. It appears that a system of instruction prevailed among these inhabitants of the valleys of Piedmont, seven hundred years ago, more rational and efficient than has yet been established in the British Isles.

It was not till the era of the Reformation that seminaries for the instruction of the young began to be organized and perma nently established. Prior to this period, indeed, colleges and universities had been founded in most of the countries of Christendom; but the instructions communicated in those seats of learning were chiefly confined to the priestly order, and to the sons of the nobility who aspired after the highest and most lucrative offices under the hierarchy of Rome. Their influence was scarcely felt by the mass of the people; and the origin of the earliest of these seminaries cannot be traced much beyond the beginning of the

thirteenth century. These new establishments, however, with the academical honours they conferred on proficients in knowledge, gave a powerful impulse to the study of science, and greatly increased the number of those who devoted themselves to the pursuits of learning. It is said, that, in the year 1262, there were no less than ten thousand students in the university of Bologna, although Law was the only science taught in it at that time; and that in the year 1340, there were thirty thousand students in the university of Oxford. But the education of the middling and lower classes of society was still miserably neglected. Even in those countries which have since been distinguished for scholastic establishments, a universal apathy seems to have prevailed, in regard to the acquisition of knowledge, and of the first elements of edu cation. In the year 1494, a few years before Luther began to assail the Romish Church, it was enacted by the Parliament of Scotland, "that all barons and substantial freeholders throughout the realm should send their children to school, from the age of six to nine years, and then to other seminaries, to be instructed in the laws, that the country might be possessed of persons properly qualified to discharge the duties of sheriffs, and other civil offices." Those who neglected to comply with the provisions of this statute, were subjected to a penalty of twenty pounds Scots. This enactment evidently implies, that even the influential classes of society, at that period, paid little attention to the education. even of the male branches of their families, and, of course, that those in the lowest ranks must have been generally, if not altogether deprived of this inestimable privilege. It was only after the passing of this act, as Dr. Henry remarks, that several individuals began to be distinguished for their classical acquirements, and that learning was much more generally diffused throughout the country.

At the time of the revival of learning, soon after the Reformation, a new impulse was given to the human mind, a bold spirit of inquiry was excited in the laity, when the vices of the Romish clergy were exposed, and their impositions detected; the absuraity of many tenets and practices authorized by the church was discovered; the futility of the arguments by which illiterate monks attempted to defend them was perceived; the mystic theology of the schools was set aside, as a system equally unedifying and obscure; the study of ancient literature was revived; the attention was directed to the sacred Scriptures, as the only standard of religious truth, the legendary tales of monkish superstition were discarded, a taste for useful knowledge was induced,—and from that period, seminaries for the instruction and improvemen

of the juvenile mind, began to be gradually established in many of the countries of Europe;-although they are still miserably deficient both in point of number, and in the range of instruction which they profess to communicate.-The following is a brief view of the present state of education in various countries:

United States of America.-Although the system of education has never yet arrived nearly at perfection, in any nation, yet the inhabitants of the United States may be considered, on the whole, as the best educated people in the world. With a degree of liberality and intelligence which reflects the highest honour on their character, they have made the most ample provision for the ele mentary instruction of all classes; and most of their arrange. ments, in reference to this object, appear to be dictated by disin. terested benevolence, and by liberal and enlarged views of what is requisite to promote the moral improvement of society. In the New States, one square mile in every township, or one thirtysixth part of all the lands, has been devoted to the support of common schools, besides seven entire townships for the endow. ment of larger seminaries. In the older States, grants of land have frequently been made for the same purposes; but in New England all sorts of property are assessed for the support of the primary schools, which are established in every township.-The following extract from a speech of Mr. Webster, a distinguished member of Congress, in a convention held at Massachusetts in 1821, displays the principles and practical operation of this system, and the grand design it is intended to accomplish :-" For the purpose of public instruction," said this illustrious senator,

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we hold every man subject to taxation in proportion to his property; and we look not to the question, whether he himself have or have not children to be benefited by the education for which he pays; we regard it as a wise and liberal system of police, by which property and life, and the peace of society, are secured. We hope to excite a feeling of respectability, and a sense of character, by enlarging the capacities and increasing the sphere of intellectual enjoyment. By general instruction, we seek, so far as possible, to purify the moral atmosphere; to keep good sentiments uppermost, and to turn the strong current of feeling and opinion, as well as the censures of law, and the denunciations of religion, against immorality and crime. We hope for a security beyond the law and above the law, in the prevalence of enlightened and well-principled moral sentiment. We hope to continue and to prolong the time, when, in the villages and farm-houses of New England, there may be undisturbed sleep within unbarred doors We do not indeed expect all men to be philosophers or

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