Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

the intellectual powers, it will have this effect in a greater degree, the earlier it is introduced, and the more pliable and ductile is the mind that is employed on it. After a certain time the mind that was neglected in the beginning, grows aukward and unwieldy. Its attempts at alertness and grace are abortive. There is a certain flowness and stupidity that grows upon it. He therefore that would enlarge the mind and add to its quantity of existence, must enter upon

his task at an early period, The benefits of classical learning would perhaps never have been controverted, if they had not been accompanied with unnecessary rigours. Children learn to dance and to fence, they learn French and Italian and music, without its being found necessary to beat them for that purpose. A reasonable man will not easily be persuaded that there is some mysterious quality in classical learning that should make it an exception to all other instances.

There is one observation arising from the view here taken on the subject, that probably deserves to be stated. It has often been said that classical learning is an excellent accomplishment in men devoted to letters, but that it is ridiculous, in parents whose children are destined to more ordinary occupations, to desire to give them a

superficial superficial acquaintance with Latin, which in the sequel will infallibly fall into neglect. A conclusion opposite to this, is dictated by the preceding reflections. We can never certainly foresee the future destination and propensities of our children. But let them be taken for granted in the present argument, yèt, if there be any truth in the above reasonings, no portion of classical instruction, however small, need be wholly loft. Some refinement of mind and some clearness of thinking will almost infallibly result from grammatical studies. Though the language itself should ever after be neglected, some portion of a general science has thus been acquired, which can scarcely be forgotten. Though our children should be destined to the humbleft occupation, that does not seem to be a fufficient reason for our denying them the acquisition of some of the most fundamental documents of buman understanding.

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

INNUMERABLE

UMERABLE are the discussions that have originated in the comparative advantages of public and private education. The chief benefit attendant on private instruction seems to be the following...

There is no motive more powerful in its operations upon the human mind, than that which originates in fympathy. A child must labour under peculiar disadvantages, who is turned loose among a multitude of other children, and left to make his way as he can, with no one strongly to interest himself about his joys or his sorrows, and no one eminently concerned as to whether he makes any improvement or not. In this unanimating situation, alone in the midst of a crowd, there is great danger that he should become sullen and selfish. Knowing nothing of his species, but from the austerity of discipline or the shock of contention, he must be expected to acquire a desperate fort of firmness and inflexibility. The focial affections are the chief awakeners of man. It is difficult for me to feel much eagerness in the pursuit of that by which I expect to contribute to no man's gratification or enjoyment. I cannot entertain a generous complacency in myself, unless I find that there are others that fet a value on me. I shall feel little temptation to the cultivation of faculties in which no one appears to take an interest. The first thing that gives spring and expansion to the infant learner, is praise; not so much perhaps because it gratifies the appetite of vanity, as from a liberal satisfaction in communicated and reciprocal pleasure. To give plea · sure to another produces in me the most animated and unequivocal consciousness of exift

Not only the passions of men, but their very judgments, are to a great degree the creatures of sympathy. Who ever thought highly of his own talents, till he found those talents obtaining the approbation of his neighbour ? Who ever was satisfied with his own exertions, till they had been fanctioned by the suffrage of a bystander? And, if this scepticism occur in our matureft years, how much more may it be expected to attend upon inexperienced childhood? The greatest stimulus to ambition is for me to conceive that I am fitted for extraordinary things; and the only mode perhaps to inspire me with self-value, is for me to perceive that I am regarded as extraordinary by another. Those things which are censured in a child, he learns to be ashamed of; those things for which he is commended, he contemplates in himself with pleasure. If therefore you would have him eagerly desirous of any attainment, you must thoroughly convince him that it is regarded by you with delight.

ence.

This advantage however of private education it is by no means impossible in a great degree to combine with public. Your child may be treated with esteem and distinction in the intervals of his school education, though perhaps these can scarcely follow him when he returns to the roof of instruction. Praise, to produce its just effect, ought not perhaps to be administered in too frequent doses.

On the other hand, there is an advantage in public education fimilar in its tendency to that just described. Private education is almost neceffarily deficient in excitements. Society is the true awakener of man ; and there can be little true society, where the disparity of disposition is so great as between a boy and his preceptor. A kind of lethargy and languor creeps upon this species of fiudies. Why should he study? He has neither rival to surpass, nor com

« VorigeDoorgaan »