Imágenes de páginas

formed in the learner by the process, can only be learnt by seeing and hearing the teacher conduct the examination of his own classes, uninterrupted and uninfluenced by the Committee. Both these modes, the Committee, in the four, or, at most, five hours spent in any one school, had not always an opportunity to adopt. It was only in certain schools that the readiness and rapidity of the answers of the children left the Committee time to witness the mode of instruction employed by the teacher."- p. 7.

The remarks that follow, on reading, are judicious and excellent. To the truth of the plain and weighty considerations embraced in the passage we now quote every reflecting person must give his assent.

"If history is to be taught at all, it is to be taught well and understandingly. But it certainly is not an indispensable study. If the question were, whether a child should be taught to read fluently and intelligently, and with such ease that reading should be a delightful recreation, for the rest of his life; should learn so much of grammar and language as to be able always to express himself, in speech and writing, correctly and with facility; so much of geography as to know what is most essential in the physical features and products, and the character and present condition of the inhabitants, of all important parts of the globe; and so much of his own structure and economy as to be able to understand the laws of physical and mental health and happiness; — or, omitting any one of these, or learning it very ill, should substitute therefor so much of history as is contained in any one small volume; we suppose there are few, who, regarding the future comfort, usefulness, and welfare of the learner, would not say, without much hesitation, that the first four of these are of indispensable importance; that the latter is very desirable, but, if either is to be left out, it must be the study of history. Wisely, therefore, have School Committees here and elsewhere acted, in requiring the first three studies to be introduced into the schools in the order in which they are here set down; and wisely, we think, will they act hereafter, if they require the study of physiology to take precedence of all others. except these indispensable three.

"The early periods of instruction should be employed in cultivating the powers of the mind as extensively as possible, and, while so doing, in getting materials for the common and universal action of the mind. Those facts should be learnt first which are most essential to the physical, mental, and moral well-being of the individual. A woman might be an excellent mother of a family, and yet know nothing at all about the causes of the

French or the American Revolution. She could not, except by accident, bring up her children with healthy minds and bodies, unless she were acquainted with the importance of pure air and a wholesome diet, and the indispensable necessity of good physical and moral habits. The mother of the Davidsons might have been fully acquainted with all the histories ever written, and yet her children might have perished as they did. But those daughters might have been now alive to be ornaments and blessings to society, if the mother had been acquainted with that simple law of physiology which forbids premature and excessive exercise of the mental faculties." pp. 15, 16.

There is much practical sense in these few sentences :


Every thing connected with the school-house has an effect upon the mind and character of the children. Its beauty elevates and improves their taste. Its convenient arrangement fosters in them the principle and the love of order. Its ample space, well ventilated, gives a healthful play to their lungs. Its costliness naturally tends to make them value the opportunities they enjoy, and to look with greater respect upon the man who has the control of so noble an establishment, and with a warmer feeling of patriotism towards the city and State by which such liberal accommodations are made for their convenience and improvement. These circumstances tend to form an honest pride; they contribute towards the building up of a high character and a lofty standard of action." pp. 35, 36.

From the essay on Moral Instruction we copy a most pregnant passage.

"In the schools for citizens, the duties of citizens should be taught. There are certain points which ought to be presented to the minds of children, and that forcibly and frequently, not only by the life and example, but in the language of their teachers. Those great primary duties enumerated in the statute must not be neglected. The infinite value of a love of truth, of justice, of integrity, of fidelity in contracts, of industry, of personal purity, of charitableness in judgment, should be pointed out, and earnestly inculcated. The reciprocal relations and duties of parents and children, of employers and employed, of masters and servants, of buyers and sellers, should be explained and enforced. The duty of self-control, of self-education, of improving all one's faculties, of economy in the use of time; the beauty of generosity, of kindness and courtesy, and of an honorable and manly character; the value of diligence and of knowledge; the excellence of good habits and the danger of bad

ones; the shamefulness of foul, indecent, and profane language; the cowardliness of deception, and the baseness of imposing upon the weak and the simple, all these things should be taught in every good school. But in public schools, like ours, which bring together children, many of whom never receive, elsewhere, moral instruction, even of the lowest kind, the consequences and the punishments of pilfering, of false witness, of false swearing, and of the other violations of the laws of God and of the land, ought to be pointed out with terrible distinctness." - pp. 39, 40.

[ocr errors]

We close our extracts with the following paragraphs from the same portion of the document.

"In looking over the studies now pursued, with reference to the question, Are they the best which we could devise as preparatory for the business of life? it must be admitted that there are some important exceptions. The study of physiology ought to be introduced, especially into the girls' schools, and the practice of drawing and the study of geometry, into those for boys.


Education, such as that of our common schools, the educa tion of the whole community, should do what can be done to qualify children, first and particularly, for those labors and duties which are most important and universal. The inmates of the girls' schools are destined to have charge of the nurture and rearing of the coming generation. To them will be committed the care of the bodies, the minds, and the character, at the most impressible period of life, when the body is formed to vigor and health, the mind to action, and the character to energy and virtue, or to effeminacy and vice. They are destined to be, to the race, guardians in health, and nurses in sickness. In the schools, therefore, something should be done to qualify them for these offices. There are laws of the structure of their own bodies, which the Maker of those bodies has established; laws of nature, laws of life and health, which the Author of nature has made. These laws are not numerous, nor difficult to be understood. They have that admirable simplicity which marks their authorship; but they are unspeakably important. These laws children, especially girls, should learn. They should learn the properties of the air they breathe, and the necessity of its abundance and purity; the influences of cold and of heat, of light and of darkness; the vital importance of well-ventilated rooms, of cleanliness, of warm clothing, of wholesome food and a healthy digestion, of temperance both in food and drink, of moderation in labor and in study, and of regular physical habits, and the

dangers of all excess. They should learn enough of the structure of their own body, and the influences of external nature which act upon it, to be led to perceive, in after years, when they come to reflect, the infinite consonance between the commandments which have been revealed to them, and the laws of the world which has been made for them; that they may not be left to doubt whether either the one or the other are fortuitous or fantastical, the offspring of a blind chance or of an unfeeling necessity." pp. 42, 43.

The report on the Writing Schools is also an able and important document; but we have no space for any further


ART. X. Poems. By JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL. Second Series. Cambridge: George Nichols. 1848. 12mo. Francis BoweLI.

pp. 184.

Ir poets are often misjudged, or have tardy and imperfect justice done to their merits, it is too frequently their own fault. They are usually the spoilt children of the world, in turn petted and humored with lavish fondness, till they become wayward and quarrelsome, and are then whipped and shut up in a dark closet till they can learn more discretion and better manners. They are often self-willed and perverse ; they offend the tastes and shock the prejudices of the age in which they live, and then complain that the age does not appreciate them, and that genius does not receive its due. They have a standing quarrel with their contemporaries, whom they accuse of plotting against their fame, and of entering into a conspiracy to neglect them. The injudicious admiration of a few blind followers consoles them for this fancied injustice; they learn from these to affect a lofty contempt for the verdict of the present age, though a little while ago they were coveting it, or protesting with great energy against its unfairness, and they now, with dignified composure, look for their meed to posterity. But the appeal is not always successful; posterity is not often at leisure to build the tombs of the prophets, or to write flattering epitaphs upon them, as it has to sit in judgment upon the obtrusive claims

of those of its own generation. If the poet is not listened to in his own times, he has but a small chance of finding an audience among those who come after him. If he will take counsel of discretion, will abate something of his wilfulness and cease to strain after impossibilities, if he will not hector people when he is hankering after their applause, or obtrude too eagerly his wrongs and sufferings upon their notice, there is no fear but that his contemporaries will do him justice.

[ocr errors]

A poetical temperament, it is true, does not often lead its unfortunate possessor into these vagaries of passion and opinion. In many cases, it is controlled by solid good-sense and great manliness of feeling. Crabbe and Rogers, Scott and Southey, Campbell and Moore, we purposely select those names only which belong to the present century, did not quarrel with the world, nor the world with them. Each of them, with the exception perhaps of Rogers, who was never married, and was always fortune's curled darling, had his own trials and sorrows to bear; their lots were crossed by all the ills that poetic flesh is heir to, by pecuniary troubles, harsh critics, domestic bereavements, personal squabbles, and political grievances. But they neither scolded nor whimpered about it; they considered, rightly, that the public had nothing to do with their private griefs, and that their office was to sing, and not to grumble. Affliction loses half of its claims to sympathy and respect when it denudes itself of privacy, when it is bared to the public eye, and decked out with flowers and sentiment to excite the wonder and compassion of the vulgar. Anger is still more unlovely and undignified; the quarrels of authors form the darkest page in their history, and if they chronicle them with their own hands, or enshrine them in bitter and stinging verses, they commit literary suicide. The poets we have just mentioned were something more than mere poets; they were sensible, highminded, whole-hearted men; and they thought well enough of our common humanity to accept this as the highest personal compliment which could be paid to them. The robust and healthy tone of their poetry is the perfect reflection of their characters and lives.

Far different was it with their contemporaries, with Byron, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and even Wordsworth, not to mention a crowd of coxcombs who have imitated them. Each of these has apparently been quite as anxious to make

« AnteriorContinuar »