« VorigeDoorgaan »
mistry, civil law, &: so that the students must attend a great many different masters and studies at different hours. But though my country men could afford salaries for such a number of professors, they do not seem disposed to this method; for they think it a great disadvantage to youth to be concerned with too many masters and studies at the same time. They ju.lge it a much better method, that such branches of science as are related to one another, should be wholly finished under one and the same master, before the youth proceed farther; and that the whole studies or branch of sciences, should be ranged in their natural order; that those of each lower class may
be an introduction to the class above it, and the youth thus raised by a chain of easy steps to the summit of their education. Hence a professor serves, by the above scheme, for all the branches of knowledge that can be acquired in one year; which makes the number of classes and masters equal to the number of years, and renders the whole plan simple and regular.
That the studies laid down for the five foregoing classes, are ranged in their natural order, will best appear to those who are best acquainted with the nature and object of them. With regard to the three lower classes, there can be no objection of this kind, as mathematics
go before philosophy in every seminary; and are so necessary to it, that the best writers who advise the study of mathematics, suppose we should propose no other advantage by them than to strengthen the reasoning faculty, and prepare the mind for the study of philosophy, by accustoming it to think closely, and to call forth those thoughts in a clear and regular manner.
That rhetoric, criticism and composition, should be placed after philosophy, seems decided also by the authority of the greatest orators and poets. Scribendi recte, sapere est & principium & fons, says Horace ; and Tully blames the orators of his time for neglecting the study of philosophy and polite literature. Nemo videretur exquisitius quam vulgus hominum studuisse literis, quibus fons perfecta eloquentiæ continetur ; nemo qui philosophiam com. plexus esset, matrem omnium bene factorum, bene. que dictorum. Quintilian is every way of the same opinion. And Pliny advises in express terms :Mores primum, mox eloquentiam discat, (Puer) qua male sine moribus discitur.
But, without any authorities, the thing is selfevident; it being idle to think of writing or composing philosophically till we are philosophers, or till we have acquired a taste for polite letters. And as to speaking, no man but he who can distinguish philosophically between right and wrong, and who is possessed of the moral virtues, can have long success in this way, because no man can move others, unless it appears that he himself is moved with what he says. A bad man may, to give his words force, affect to be moved when he reasons of virtue; but whenever his character is fully detected, all his most artful pretences this way will, in the issue, only so much the more hurt his own cause,
Here I asked Evander, why rhetoric was so commonly placed before philosophy, if the latter was so
necessary to it? He answered, that as far as he could learn, the difference between the method of his countrymen, and that of the best modelled colleges, was not material. 'Tis true, said he, these colleges begin the study of rhetoric in the lower classes, but they continue it through the higher ones. Thus the first year, perhaps, the youth learn no more than the figures of speech and the precepts or rules of oratory. The knowledge of logic and grammar is enough for this purpose. Composition, criticism, and that part of rhetoric to which philosophy and polite letters are necessary, fall of course after the study of philosophy, &c. in the generality of seminaries, which is the same thing upon the whole; only that my countrymen, as hath been observed, think it best for them, never to engage youth in more than one or two studies till they are fully masters of them; and to keep their plan as simple as possible, that they may stand in need of no more professors and tutors than their circumstances enable them to employ; which are the sole considerations that would ever make them depart in the least from the practice of nations more learned than theinselves.
I presume, I need offer no reasons for placing the studies of agriculture, history and politics in the highest class. As these studies seldom enter much into the scheme of education, but are left for every man's private reading after his education at the uni. versity is finished, it is plain that they should be last, if they are at all brought into such a scheme. They are indeed the studies of men, and require a ripe judgment. . But besides this, all the former studies, as I have observed already, are necessary and subservient to them. Even the knowledge of rhetoric itself is of great use in reading a well-written history, as many of the chief beauties thereof would otherwise be lost and untasted. And if this was not the case, yet still, methinks, history and agriculture should be placed last, in order to send youth abroad into the world, warm (if I may so express it) from those studies which their own interests and the service of their country will generally require them chiefly to cultivate.
The next thing to be spoken of is the public exercises of these classes; for the Miranians are fully convinced of the great advantages of bringing youth early to speak in public, and therefore have set all the Saturdays of the year wholly apart for this purpose.
Upon these days, the masters, scholars, and as: many of the citizens as please to attend, being assembled in the chapel after morning prayers; one of the students in the first or Greek class appears as respondent with an opponent or interrogator from the third class. The latter pitches upon any Greek author, which the respondent has read during the course of the year in his class, and prescribes a passage in it to be rendered into English extempore.
This the respondent does, pointing out the author's beauties, clearing up his obscurities and difficulties, and giving an account of the case, tense, mood, derivation, construction, &c. of every word. The opponent takes care to set him right where he errs, and gives him an opportunity, by proper interrogations, to display his skill and improvements to the
best advantage. The master of that class to which the opponent belongs, superintends these exercises, and may interfere with his assistance if there should be occasion. But this seldom happens.
After these, one of the second class appears as respondent, with an opponent from the 4th, who endeavours to impugn a thesis given out and defended by the other. Then he changes the subject, and interrogates him concerning his skill in such branches of the mathematics as he (the respondent) has learned in his class,
In the next place, a respondent appears from the third class with an opponent from the fifth. The method of exercise the same as above. The subject ethics and physics.
Besides bearing a part, as interrogators, in the. foregoing exercises, the fourth and fifth classes have an exercise of declamation peculiar to them. selves. First one of the youth in the class of rhetoric delivers a speech with proper grace and action on any philosophical subject, or on the nature, rules and advantages of eloquence and poetry, which are the studies of the present year.
Lastly, one of the fifth or highest class delivers an oration, framed according to the exact rules of rhetoric, upon any civil topic that is, or may be, disputed with regard to the interest of their country. And such harrangues I have often known to be of very public service, not only when delivered, but when thought worthy of being published. Sometimes too their subject is the usefulness of history and agriculture; the pleasures of retirement, or any