« FöregåendeFortsätt »
then from the devil;” (pp. 41, 42.) and the answer is proof enough that the rule, alone, cannot be a safe one. It makes, too, what was but one among the grounds of our moral judgments and preferences, the only one. Doubtless, we admire in a child what we might condemn in a man, and this too because the action is natural in the one and not in the other; but the beauty of right is far different from the grace of appropriateness.
Throughout the volume are scattered numberless instances of this substitution of a partial truth for the whole, and a bold statement of it as the whole; and we regret that a work, in some respects so captivating, should be so calculated to mislead the unwary. The author writes with the earnestness of a genuine enthusiasm, and fearlessly speaks out his thought. There are everywhere tokens of a clear perception, and an ardent admiration of what is noble and beautiful in man, in nature, and in art. He deals in subtle analogies, which are often of great beauty, and pictures with rare skill. In a style, which on every page delights us by its simplicity and grace, and offends us by an affected quaintness, showing brilliant fancy and curious scholarship, he has uttered many brave truths, many gross and perilous errors, hints in which the meditative and wise man may find ambrosial food, but which will prove poison to the simple and undiscerning.
3. Fourth Annual Report of the Board of Education, together with
the Fourth Annual Report of the Secretary of the Board. Boston:
1841. Dutton and Wentworth. Svo. pp. 108. Abstract of the Massachusetts School Returns, for 1839–40. Boston:
Dutton and Wentworth. Svo. pp. 482.
These are documents of great value. The report of the very able and intelligent secretary of the Board of Education in Massachusetts, contains, as his former reports have done, a large amount of useful views and suggestions, which may be hardly less important in every other quarter of our country, than in the state for which they were primarily designed. Massachusetts will owe him a vast debt, for his untiring labors in behalf of her common schools. The Abstract of School Returns contains an immense mass of documents of great importance to all who are inquiring on the subject of common schools, and which may have a curious historical value' some generations hence. It is made up of selections from reports of the state of the schools in three hundred and one out of the three hundred and seven towns in that commonwealth. These reports were made by the school committee of each town, and approved by the town in public meeting. The authors are practical men, who
have the oversight of the schools whose condition they report, well acquainted with their success and their wants, and capable of judg. ing well of the working of the system. The approval of the town meeting affirms the accuracy of the reports, and we have an exact and authentic account of the condition of all, except six, of the schools in Massachusetts. Many of the reports are written by men of great experience, knowledge, and skill; and, as matters of opinion, are worthy of a careful study.
We would add a few words, touching the true use of common schools, and their place in a general system of public instruction. The notion prevails almost universally among us, and has given their form to nearly all public and legislative measures on the subject, that popular education and common school education are one and the same thing. We do not imagine that the absolute value of common school education has been at all overrated; but we feel that their true use has been, practically, somewhat misunderstood, —that more has been and is expected of them than they can ever accomplish, and of course that other not less valuable means of education are in danger of being left in comparative neglect. Let us briefly examine how far and how well these schools are fitted to produce that degree of intelligence which the theory of our government requires in all its subjects, or in other words how far they can fulfil the purposes of a system of popular education. And first, as to the extent of the education that can be given in the common school. We cannot make any definite statement of the branches of study that are included in its requirements. There is no limit set in the plans of those who are most interested, and perhaps most wise, on this subject; and if at any time any limits have been fixed, they have been overleaped by the improving spirit of the age, and left far behind. The tendency is very strong, as any man, who will look about him, may see, to introduce into these primary and initiatory schools a great variety of studies, and to require a degree of attainment which it has been deemed prudent heretofore to seek elsewhere. Let our boards of education and legislatures consider if it be prudent to undertake, if it be practicable to sustain a system, support any which has not, in their experience, a close connection with the necessities of their daily life.
proposes to provide for any class of men a kind or degree of learning, which is much above the average of their felt necessities, or the actual duties of their position in life. It may be found hereafter, that the doctrine of demand and supply ought to regulate this as well as other departments of internal economy; - that the scheme which is most perfect in theory, here as well as elsewhere, may not be the most available in practice; - that any system of popular education, that it may work well and last long, must be gradual, adaptive, and the natural growth of our institutions, and of ihe character of our people : and this plainly because the success of any scheme must depend upon the free consent and concurrence of the individuals of the people, and because they will not readily
The training of men to be wise and virtuous needs not, so much as we commonly suppose, high intellectual culture, and depends far more on influences and lessons of another kind. To train men to discharge faithfully and well their political duties, to be truly good citizens under a government so free as ours, is a far more difficult question. Let the problem be, so to educate the citizen that, whenever he is called to vote, he shall vote rightly. Now let it be considered what complex and momentous questions are decided at the polls - the tariff, internal improvements, the sub-treasury, a national bank, (for though not formally, yet really, such questions are involved in the election of public officers,) grave questions of public police, alterations in our constitution, etc. Let it be considered, what maturity of judgment, what experience in affairs, what varied and minute knowledge of the interests and business of men, what acquaintance with the past, what far-reaching forecast, are needed to enable one to decide intelligently and rightly of matters so complex and weighty. Be it remembered, too, that in public affairs a changeful policy is the worst of all policies, and that a principle once settled, to be good for anything, must be adhered to. Here we have some of the elements which make it a difficult problem, how to give every man who shall be called on to vote, an education that shall fit him for the honest and wise discharge of that immense trust.
We confess that our wisdom is utterly insufficient here; and after having examined most of the schemes which have been broached on the subject, we are as much at a loss as ever. The system of common schools tends towards this result; but alone it is inadequate, and can never reach it. It now takes only the first steps; nor can it, so far as we can see, however costly may be its provisions, however judicious its arrangements, however constant and energetic its operation, ever bring up the body of the people to that measure of intelligence and virtue, which the theory of our government requires or is supposed to require of them.
Again, in relation to the persons who are to enjoy the advantages of this system. Leaving out of view the few who receive there that culture, which, carried on elsewhere to its perfection, may give them a place among those of whom the world shall boast, — it was designed for the body of the people, to make them wise in their daily duties, and useful in their appointed sphere. The state owes a paternal regard to this, its numerous family, and is false to them and to itself, if it does not provide, as far as it may, for their due intelligence, virtue, and happiness. Their virtue secures its purity; their happiness is its happiness. But it needs no argument to show that not all of them are to be learned, and wise, and great. The lot of most men is one of daily toil. The original curse is yet
on man and on the earth ; and happy is he who may rise to labor, and lie down to repose in calm security, and, like the oak that has sheltered him, grow up and die on the spot where he was born. For the uses of such was the common school primarily designed. To their use let it be consecrated, nor perverted by an ambitious aiming at somewhat higher, that is visionary if not dangerous.
We have not intended to speak slightingly of common schools, or disrespectfully of the labors of those who are earnest in that
The cause is worthy of the most strenuous efforts of the best men.
No substitute for it has been found, or can be found. We affirm only, that in the education of the people, the common school is not all in all; that it is not designed to communicate all knowledge, or prepare men for every duty: that as its value is beyond estimation in its lowly sphere, so an undue elevation of it will render it useless and destroy it,
4. The Philosophy of History. In a Course of Lectures by FRE
DERICK VON SCHLEGEL. With a Memoir of the Author, by James BURTON ROBERTSON, Esq. New York : 1841. D. Appleton and Co. 2 vols.
“HISTORY constitutes the fourth Revelation of God." This is the lofty proposition upon which Schlegel builds his historic speculations, and to demonstrate it forms his bold attempt. To analyze this his demonstration, and exhibit in it what we deem both true and false, is a labor for which we have here neither leisure nor
We deem it, however, a high and needful question for the American student; and at some fitter time may give it a place in our more critical columns. The main object of our present notice is but to introduce favorably to the American public, the reprint of these lectures from the press of the Appletons a publishing house, whose liberal enterprize has of late added many solid works to our domestic stock. We notice, too, with pleasure, the improving style of execution in which their works are brought forth, as seen recently in the "Sacra Privata” of Wilson; “ Bishop Patrick's Prayers,” etc. We love, in truth, to see exhibited, as in the titlepage of the volumes before us, even the Aldine“ Monogram,” with its symbolic dolphin and mystic anchor; and only wish we could see it, among other improvements, on paper of a firmer tex
“Cotton bags” play a sufficiently important part already in the commercial and political relations of our country
- from the hands of the scholar and the shelves of his library we would they were in toto excluded. To make books cheap is not necessarily to make knowledge easy – for with every fall in price comes, we must
remember, a diminished estimate on the part of the purchaser, until at length, when “dog cheap," books are too apt to receive a dog treatment," and be kicked about accordingly. This, we say, is a natural, necessary result; and one, certainly, that favors not good learning. In proportion, too, as the American public begins to demand “good” books, it demands also “good” editions, in order that the worthy jewel may be in a worthy casket. For the purposes, too, of education, a few solid thinking books, perused and reperused, is, we all know, the only efficient means to awaken thought and educe talent in the young; and this presupposes a solid and enduring, as well as attractive form in the book itself. For ourselves, at least, we are well satisfied that success will attend the publisher who first acts upon this principle; and, in addition to establishing a reputation that will How back in profit, that it will bring to him the further comfort of thinking that he is concurring to check the greatest intellectual disease of our age, generation, and country — that is, superficial reading.
The work before us, as one of those solid thinking works, we hail with pleasure in the respectable form here given to it. Its reputation, however, is one we think established from the first rather on the celebrity of its author than with us at least on critical inquiry, and we are far from regarding it as his ablest work, either in theory or execution. His oriental lectures we hold to be his first in merit
. His theory here we deem an over-strained one, giving an air of religious dogmatism to what may and should be stated, as Miller in his Philosophy of History has done it, in the clear light of the reflective understanding. “To vindicate the ways of God to man,” is indeed a high and holy theme; but we must still remember, it is a dark drama, except so far as God himself has chosen to raise the curtain, so that the uninspired critic who pretends to see clearly into it, we may be well satisfied, sees falsely.
“ Celui qui voit tout en Dieu,
N'y voit il, qu'il est Fou ?"
Nor is the execution of it to be wholly commended. Schlegel's style is an involved one generally, and occasionally to that degree, above all in the present work, as to cause no small obscurity; an error which is further added to by an imaginative or rather rhetorical exaggeration of speech, equally unfavorable to simplicity and precision. Such was our feeling on reading the work when it first came out some years since, and it is an impression renewed and strengthened by a fresh perusal now. One further-caution, too, we feel it our duty to add: his zeal for the church of Rome, the more ardent as being that of a proselyte from the Lutheran faith, shines forth often in the present work in a manner as little creditable to him as a philosophic thinker, as it is accordant with the views of such as count not with him the Church of Rome to be the one Cath