« VorigeDoorgaan »
for, before either of us were aware, he stood glaring upon us Wordsworth, perceiving him, immediately disappeared with his birds, and left me alone with the mysterious apparition. It was Byron! He seized the pen,
it became a magician's wand in his grasp ; - he touched the inkstand, — it expanded into a caldron like that of the witches in Macbeth, and there was a dance of “black spirits and wlute, blue spirits and gray," about it, using their ineffable incantations with such effect, that the walls of the house fell into nothing before them, and my lord, suddenly unfolding the paper, which had already undergone so many metamorphoses, it stretched itself into a landscape, under the gloom of night, with a wan ray of the moon in the last quarter gleaming across it. Instantly we found ourselves, the mighty lord and I, in a corner of Lara's hall.
A loud but hesitating succession of raps at the door dissipated the whole phantasmagoria. A poet, who shall be nameless, came in. I looked up, and recollected myself!
80. The Milkmaid.
A MILKMAID, who poised a full pail on her head,
- I should think that this milk would procure One hundred good eggs, or fourscore, to be sure.
“Well, then - stop a bit — it must not be forgotten,
“ Well — sixty sound eggs - no, sound chickens I mean
" But, then, there's their barley: how much will they need ?
“Six shillings a pair — five — four - three-and-six;
"O, but stop! — three-and-sixpence a pair I must sell 'em
“Twenty-five pair of fowls — now how plaguesome it 18,
“Twenty pounds, I am certain, will buy me a cow,
"Then I'll bid that old tumble-down hovel good-by ;
But forgetting her burden, when this she had said,
This moral, I think, may be safely attached :
81. Prevailing Errors in Regard to the Nature and
End of Education.
“The improvement of education,” says a writer, “ will alone lead to its extension;" and we add, that a clearer comprehension of its nature will alone lead to its improvement. Changes may be multiplied, but they will very rarely be improvements, unless they proceed on a clear and definite understanding of the end to be attained. Means are wisely chosen only when they are precisely adapted to the object sought, and they are thus adapted only when that object stands out clearly and boldly before the mind. Let us, then, look at some of the prevailing misconceptions.
By many, education is regarded simply as the means of cominunicating to the young certain mechanical accomplishments, which, in the progress of society, have become essential to our comfort and success. Thus, in the opinion of one, a child is educated when he can read, write, and cipher. To these, others would add certain higher scholastic attainments, more or less in number; and a third party hold no child to be educated, unless to what they term “school learning" is added some trade or employment by which he can make a living.
The great and all-important fact that a child has powers and sentiments which predestine him to advance forever in knowledge and virtue, but powers which will be stifled or perverted in their very infancy without proper culture, - this fact is overlooked. It is not considered that he has an intellectual and a moral character to be formed, and that no character will ever reach the required excellence, unless wise principles are instilled, and good habits formed.
A child leaves school without having contracted either a desire for knowledge, or a love of good books. Ile knows as little of his own frame, of the laws of his intellectual and moral nature, of the constitution of the material world, and of the past history of his country and race, as if on these subjects books were silent; and yet he is said to be educated! What is still more important, he has been subjected to no early, constant, and efficient training of his disposition, manners, judgment, and habits of thought and conduct.
The sentiments held to be appropriate to the adult have not been imbibed with the milk of infancy, and iterated and reiterated through the whole of subsequent childhood and youth; the manners considered becoining in men and women have not been sedulously imparted in early years; nor have the habits regarded as conducive to individual advancement, social happiness, and national prosperity, been cultivated with the utmost diligence; and yet the child is said to be educated! He knows little, and yet he imagines that he knows all, or enough!
Akin to the error just noticed is another, which makes education consist in acquiring knowledge. That no education is complete or sufficient which leaves the subject of it in ignorance, is plain ; and as there is a certain amount of knowledge, which seems absolutely needful to man's highest welfare, and is, moreover, within the reach of all, it should be considered as an indispensable part of the education of the whole people. Such, in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, and a proper knowledge of the Scriptures, is an acquaintance with the criminal laws of the government under which we live, with general geography and history, and, to some extent, with our own physical, intellectual, and moral constitution.
The grand error is, that that is called knowledge which is mere rote-learning and word-mongery. The child is said to be educated, because it can repeat the text of this one's Grammar, and of that one's Geography and History; because a great many facts, often without connection or dependence, hare, for the time being, been deposited in its memory, though they have never been wrought at all into the understanding, nor have awakened, in truth, one effort of the higher faculties.
The soil of the mind is left, by such culture, nearly as untouched, and as little likely, therefore, to yield back valuable fruit, as if these same facts had been committed to memory in an unknown tongue. It is as if the husband. man were to go forth and sow his seed by the way-side, or on the surface of a field which has been trodden down by the hoofs of innumerable horses, and then, when the cry of harvest home is heard about him, expect to reap as abundant returns as the most provident and industrious of his neighbors. He forgets that the same irreversible law holds in mental as in material husbandry, — Whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
The first duty of the teacher, whether he be a parent or hired instructor, is to enrich and turn up the soil of the mind, and thus quicken its productive energies. Awaken a child's faculties; give him worthy objects on which to exercise them; invest him with proper control over them, and let him once taste the pleasure of employing them in the acquisition of truth, and he will gain knowledge for himself. Yet it is worthy of remark, that this cannot be done, effectually and thoroughly, without imparting, at the same time, much knowledge.
It is in the act of apprehending truth, of perceiving the evidence on which it rests, of tracing out its relations to and dependence on other truths, and then of applying it to the explanation of phenomena and events, – it is by such means that we excite, invigorate, and discipline the faculties. It has been much disputed whether it be the primary object of education to discipline and develop the powers of the soul, or to communicate knowledge.
Were these two objects distinct and independent, it is not to be questioned that the first is unspeakably more important than the second. But, in truth, they are inseparable.
That training which best disciplines and unfolds the faculties will, at the same time, impart the greatest amount of real and effective knowledge; while, on the other hand, that which imparts thoroughly, and for permanent use and possession, the greatest amount of knowledge, will best develop,