Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

not here appear worth arguing any farther : and I may safely assume, that a common schooling is desirable for a whole population in respect of that common discipline, which is also desirable in respect of our common salvation. This fact being admitted, it may next seem pertinent to inquire,

6-Whether, in reference to its means and momentum such general schooling of the population should be made a general or government concern, and how so made ?

I suppose I may be allowed to apply these two expressions, general and government, indifferently to the important concern in question; there being but one direct way that I know of, to make any concern general in any nation or state, which is, its adoption by the government; the government itself being similarly generalized by its adoption with others on the same principle by one whose kingdom ruleth over all,” and “ in whose rule and governance are the hearts of kings and queens, and of every other chieftain, to dispose and turn as it may at any time seem best to his Godly wisdom.” But it does not seem a matter of course or necessity to argue this point at length, any more than its predecessor, and for the reason assigned therewith— that of its formal admission in the provision that is every where made through Christendom for a mature if not for an early instruction of the people in the principal discipline of religion, so far, at least, as doctrine is concerned. And if this admission be not made by the people in common, it is made by considerable detachments, as well as by a general representation, emanating in what is called the established Church ; which, if it were perfect in its establishment from beginning to end, would leave nothing to be desired by the population in respect of a common schooling and discipline. But as commonness might have two meanings or applications without including vileness, so two things will be required for a common schooling, which are scholars and instruction, and as the basis of an establishment is for the most part very precise and exclusive, the same may not happen to suit every class, especially considering the detachments aforesaid, when being accordingly rejected by some, the most considerable desideratum for a school, which is scholars, may be so far alienated as to prevent a common education in respect of scope or endowment from being made so likewise in respect of subjects or partakers. Meanwhile this consummation so desirable, if it be to be had at all, must be had without compromising the principles of government in Church and State, let such principles be never so precise and exclusive; nay, supposing them even to be not exactly correct. For if a government happen to be in the wrong, as it might, is it not still a government ? And can that be government which is a constant truckling to all parties, in religion especially, to hold a faith at the beck of every prevailing interest, whatever professions it may make of infallibility and undeviating principles ? I should think it could not be very gratifying to the members of the established religion; I know it is what I should not like in my physician, to be consulting my pleasure or caprice, to know how he should prescribe in a minor respect.

At the same time it may be asked, how this desirable consummation, abundance of scholars as well as schools, is to be attained, if possible, by any government without compromising its principles ? And I think it is possible. Only let the government itself be free in the first place to profess what it believes, or at least, not obliged by any means to profess more; and then a sincere profession might also be expected among its objects—I mean among the governed, or objects of government. Let us have no royal hypocrisy, no reigning formality, no reigning superstition, if we can help it, for the sake of a pretended orthodoxy; and be content to profess ourselves what we like to believe or profess without compelling others, and our masters especially, to profess the same. Only a subject, and one of the meanest degree, might feel it very humiliating to be obliged any how to profess what he does not believe; how much more, a sovereign, who properly reigns by sincerity, and may glory in being an example of the same to his subjects ! It is a degradation that no sovereign should consent, nor be obliged, nor even allowed to submit to, if his loving subjects could prevent it, whatever his false flatterers might pretend. For supposing it to be the sovereign's ambition to be called orthodox, catholic, and the like, by those who do not bestow such titles for nothing, it must be clear, as I have formerly shown, that their calling is a contradiction; inasmuch as they are men of many creeds, while catholicity consists in the best of the best, or a simple profession ; and the most catholic prince will be—not he who professes the most articles--but he who believes the soundest few : so that instead of thirty, forty, or fifty articles of faith, the most catholic king could not profess more than three, four, or five, that is, a tenth; and the next not more than half a dozen, leaving the rest to their clergy or tutors. Then we might have catholic countries as well as catholic kings, also catholic churches, states, schools, and scholars; a consummation devoutly to be wished.

For many things that may not be done by authority may be done by example and encouragement. It would require all the authority of a Czar, a Sultan, or an Herod, to send all the little children in his dominions to school, and more than all, to make them all learn when they got there; but the example and encouragement of a devoted curate might do as much for his parish with the royal authority and encouragement freely exercised in a way that I hope to have some day the pleasure of intimating to you, more particularly than I can at present. For at present I have other things to mind, as for example:

7-Whether such means and momentum, and likewise direction as have now been mentioned, can be better em

251

ployed for the purpose of a common Schooling and Discipline than by the following process ?

I do not know whether I should not say rather on the following principles ; as it is still these chiefly, being by far the most important object in a system, that I profess to regard, though a matter of practice, detail, or process may happen to escape me on a time by chance. And so, having just now alluded to the two great requisites of a common schooling, scholars and instruction, I should observe, that in the former two classes or degrees corresponding with the capacity and previous attainment of the subjects or scholars are to be considered ; as some come to school early, some late, one is wpoiuos, another ófèualà. Or if we take up the subject from the beginning, as we ought, there needs not be any thing said of previous attainments; every capacity of man being to be supposed a mere blank, and its subject a mere savage, as aforesaid, whether he be born in an hovel or in a palace: and then we shall have to proceed regularly from a fixed point by one degree after another both in the corporeal and mental department. A footing or foundation is the first thing to be gained in both; the child must be set on its feet before it can walk ; and the mind must be similarly established on some sort of data before it can reason or reflect. So the method of schooling and disciplining in use among Christians has ever been to lay a foundation in the word of God, with a view to the benefit of its future direction through life; as the wise man advises, " Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Prov. xxi. 6.)

Taking this word for my basis, I have accordingly followed before now, as far as I had time and opportunity, a system of popular education that I can venture to recommend; and not because I followed, nor because I began it, —but because the system seemed to recommend itself on trial as far as I could observe it, being this; namely :-To

make two distinct processes of learning and intelligence, as we too often find them, in the first instance; one being for a foundation, the other for a part of the superstructure, in order to suit the successive development of these two intellectual properties, the memory and judgment to which the two said processes of learning and intelligence belong respectively. For this purpose I divide my school into two classes, which are called Rotists and Sentients from their several modes of retention, one by rote the other by perception or intelligence; the order of each as follows, v.g.

1. The class of Rotists, consisting chiefly in what may be called infant schools from the stipulated age of their young subjects or contents, being for

Boys between

{

5 and 9 years ;
5 and 10 years.

Girls (“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones.” Matt. xviii. 10.) Entrance ad libitum. Duty-of boys; reading, and repetition ;

girls ; reading, repetition, and sewing. Their Teachers should be females; and preferably-widows, not younger than fifty, and if they have children, the same either well ordered or from home. One of the neighbourhood, and in good repute : one " that is a widow indeed, and desolate, (keeping herself to herself,) trusting in God,” and so forth ; (Tim. I. v. 5 ;) such a one, with her little collection, to every mile, perhaps, in the country; or to every sufficient number of boys and girls in town; the general ratio being adapted to localities on the two criterions of space and population.

Books,- for the superior part of their education, Psalters, Testaments, the Pentateuch, Job, and Proverbs,--for the inferior part, books and tables for spelling and common arithmetic, tables of common weights and measures, and any other matter if there be any of the same common useful kind. So partial a use, as it must needs be at this early age, of

« AnteriorContinuar »