Abbildungen der Seite




WHAT IS EDUCATION? EDUCATION we consider as consisting in the formation of the character; and a good education, in the preparation of man for usefulness and happiness. It involves the right development, and cultivation, and direction of all his powers, physical, intellectual, and moral. It implies instruction in all the branches of knowledge which are necessary to useful and efficient action in the sphere of the individual. But it must also include the physical training which is to render the body capable of executing the purposes of the soul; the skill which is requisite in order to apply our knowledge and strength to the very best advantage; and, above all, the moral discipline by which the character and direction of our efforts is to be decided. Each of these branches includes an extensive list of particulars; and the means of education comprise all those circumstances and influences by which the human character is formed and modified.

In this view, education does not begin with the school; nor does it terminate with the university. It is not confined to the nursery, nor the family, nor the public institution. It begins with the first moment of consciousness. Every being, every object, every event, forms a part of it. The first lessons are given in the arms of the mother. The parent, by her looks and movements, and the sun by its varying light, are educating the eye. The songs of the birds, and the whistling of the wind, are cultivating the ear, no less truly than the voice of the mother, or the instrument of music. The air and the temperature of the room are fitting the body to enjoy or to suffer. The food which is given him calls forth his appetite, and forms him

to habits of temperance or sensuality. The clothing which he wears begins to inspire the taste for simplicity, or the love of finery.

In the progress of childhood, the daily and hourly treatment he receives, the conduct he witnesses, and the language he hears, in the family circle, in the company of domestics, in the little society of his school-fellows and playmates, all exert an influence upon him, no less decided, and often more powerful, than the instructions of the school, or the exhortations of the parent, or the worship of the church; and all, therefore, make an essential part of his education. As he advances into youth and manhood, the number of educators who thus surround him, and the variety of influences to which he is exposed, are greatly increased. Society at length begins to act upon him, and he feels the force of public opinion. The church presents its weekly school of instruction and discipline, which may exert the most efficient and salutary influence; and the state employs its power in directing and restraining, and thus educating the man, by means of laws and institutions, whose operation ter minates only in the grave.

But does education terminate here? Nature, reason, cast no light upon the “ valley of the shadow of death.” But revelation points us to a higher world, and enables us to discern, through the cloud which rests upon the grave, that state, in which those who have improved the privileges already enjoyed on earth, shall be allowed higher and nobler means of advancement. There, the immediate perception of all that is excellent and glorious in the Creator, and in the most exalted of the rational creation, shall take the place of imperfect description. There, that knowledge, which is here the result of painful study, will be seen as intuitively as the visible objects which now surround us; and there, the mind will no longer have to struggle with those gross defects, that painful weakness of its material organs, which now obscure its perceptions, and arrest and retard its progress, in truth and excellence.

But such a state, such progress, it is now incapable even of conceiving; and we can only rejoice in the distant glimmerings of that light whose full glory, like the beams of some of those orbs whose remoteness reduces them to stars, would overpower our minds. Nor can we suppose any termination to this glo. rious course. At every period of enlargement in the faculties, the field of vision will be extended. Unlike the mountain traveler, who sees 6 Alps on Alps arise,” but knows that another day will bring him to the summit, where all will be beneath him, we shall only learn at every step, with the more delightful certainty, that the exhibitions of Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Goodness present a field for unending occupation and untiring enjoyment. It is, indeed, a most intellectual accomplishment. So is music, too, in its perfection. We do by no means undervalue this noble and most delightful art, to which Socrates applied himself even in his old age. But one recommendation of the art of reading is, that it requires a constant exercise of mind. It demands continual and close reflection and thought, and the finest discrimination of thought. It involves, in its perfection, the whole art of criticism on language. A man may possess a fine genius without being a perfect reader; but he cannot be a perfect reader without genius.

Education, then, in its largest sense, is not limited to time; it is not confined to the narrow boundaries of existence which we can discern. We have said that its first lessons are given in the mother's arms. The family is its primary school; the series of public institutions is but the academy of this great course. The world itself is the university, in which man is to make his final preparation for the employments and pleasures of that future, endless state, in comparison with which the period of our residence on earth is less than the hours of infancy in the life of a century; for that true life of the soul, in which it first begins its free, its independent existence.

Annals of EDUCATION.

LESSON II. ON ELOCUTION AND READING. The business of training our youth in elocution must be commenced in childhood. The first school is the nursery. There, at least, may be formed a distinct articulation, which is the first requisite for good speaking. How rarely is it found in perfection among our orators! “Words," says one, referring to articulation, “ should be delivered out from the lips, as beautiful coins, newly issued from the mint; deeply and accurately impressed, perfectly finished, neatly struck by the proper organs, distinct, in due succession, and of due weight." How rarely do we hear a speaker, whose tongue, teeth, and lips, do their office so perfectly, as, in any wise, to answer to this beautiful description! And the common faults in articulation, it should be remembered, take their rise from the very nursery. But let us refer to other particulars.

Grace in eloquence in the pulpit, at the bar-cannot be separated from grace in the ordinary manners, in private life, in

the social circle, in the family. It cannot well be superinduced upon all the other acquisitions of youth, any more than that nameless, but invaluable quality, called good breeding. You may, therefore, begin the work of forming the orator with your child; not merely by teaching him to declaim, but, what is of more consequence, by observing and correcting his daily manners, motions, and attitudes.

You can say, when he comes into your apartment, or presents you with something, a book or letter, in an awkward and blundering manner, « Return, and enter this room again," or, 6 Present me that book in a different manner,” or, “Put yourself in a different attitude.” You can explain to him the difference between thrusting or pushing out his hand and arm, in straight lines and at acute angles, and moving them in flowing, circular lines, and easy, graceful action. He will readily understand you. Nothing is more true than that “the motions of children are originally graceful;" and it is by suffering them to be perverted, that we lay the foundation for invincible awkwardness in later life.

We go, next, to the schools for children. It ought to be a leading object, in these schools, to teach the art of reading. It ought to occupy three-fold more time than it does. The teachers of these schools should labor to improve themselves. They should feel, that to them, for a time, are committed the future orators of the land. We would rather have a child, even of the other sex, return to us from school a first-rate reader, than a first-rate performer on the piano-forte. We should feel that we had a far better pledge for the intelligence and talent of our child. The accomplishment, in its perfection, would give more pleasure. The voice of song is not sweeter than the voice of eloquence; and there may be eloquent readers, as well as eloquent speakers.

We speak of perfection in this art; and it is something, we must say in defense of our preference, which we have never yet seen. Let the same pains be devoted to reading, as are required to form an accomplished performer on an instrument; let us have, as the ancients had, the formers of the voice, the music-masters of the reading voice; let us see years devoted to this accomplishment, and then we should be prepared to stand the comparison.

[ocr errors]



ON FEM A LE INFLUENCE. The influence of cultivated female intellect upon the social and religious welfare of mankind, cannot easily be overrated. If civilization and Christianity have elevated woman in the scale of being, she has a thousand fold repaid the debt. IIeathenism alone has debased her, and the light of divine truth will, without doubt, fully restore her to her original rank and position. Indeed, it has already done this, as far as its principles control opinion and action. As opportunity and public opinion have permitted, she has herself stepped forward, and gently, but firmly grasped the wand which waves over the circle of her influence. From this elevation, with the love of God in her heart, and the accents of affection on her tongue, she is destined to become the chief source of light and blessing to our race. ,

Woman's mind has stamped its impress upon the choicest treasures of modern literature. How many characters have been formed, and souls strengthened for honorable and lofty action, by the sound wisdom and gentle attractiveness of Hannah More, Jane Taylor, and Mrs. Barbauld! How many stricken hearts have bome their sorrows with meek and gentle sufferance, inspirited by the sympathizing strains of Mrs. Hemans, and Miss Landon! And how many have bounded with life, and hope, and the love of nature's works, inspired by Mrs. Hemans' more enlivening lays, and those of the gentle, purehearted Mary Howitt! How many have been made wise, and pure, and affectionate, by the consecrated harp of Mrs.

« ZurückWeiter »