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that because political economy is conversant with human transactions, and he is acquainted with so much greater an amount of human transactions than the generality of men, he must have an advantage over them in precisely the same degree, in discussing questions of political economy. Undoubtedly he has a great advantage, if he is careful to keep in view the true principles of the science; but otherwise be inay even labor under a dis-advantage, by forgetting that (as J. just now observed) the kind of transactions which are made most prominent and uccupy the chief space, in the works of historians and travelers, are usually not those of every-day life, with which political economy is conversant. It is in the same way that an accurate military survey of any district, or a series of sketches accompanying a picturesque tour through it, may even serve to mislead one who is seeking for a knowledge of its agricultural condition, if he does not keep in mind the different objects which different kinds of survey have in view.

“Geologists, when commissioning their friends to procure them from any foreign country such specimens as may convey an idea of its geological charaoter, are accustomed to warn them against sending over collections of curiosities--i, e. specimens of spars, stalactites, &c., which are acoounted, in that country, curious, from being rarities, and which consequently convey no correct notion of its general features. What they want is, specimens of the commonest strata,-the stones with which the roads are mended, and the houses built, &c. And some fragments of these, which in that country are accounted mere rubbish, they sometimes, with much satisfaction, find casually adhering to the specimens sent them as curiosities, and constituting, for their object, the most important part of the collection. Histories are in general, to the political economist, what such collections are to the geologist. The casual allusions to common, and what aro considered insignificant matters, conveying to him the most valuable information.

“ An injudicious study of history, then, may even prove a hindrance instead of a help to the forming of right views of political economy. For not only are many of the transactions which are, in the historian's view, the most important, such as are the least important to the political economist, but also a great proportion of them consists of what are in reality the greatest impediments to the progress of a society in wealth : viz., wars, revolutions, and disturbances of every kind. It is not in consequence of these, but in spite of them, that society has made the progress which in fact it has made. So that in taking such a survey as history furnishes of the course of events, for instance, for the last eight hundred years, (the period I just now alluded to,) not only do we find little mention of the causes which have so greatly increased national wealth during that period, but what we chiefly do read of is, the counteracting causes ; especially the wars which have been raging from time to time, to the destruotion of capital, and the hindrance of improvement. Now, if a ship had performed a voyage of eight hundred leagues, and the register of it contained an account chiefly of the contrary winds and currents, and made little mention of favorable gales, we might well be at a loss to understand how she reached her destination; and might even be led into the mistake of supposing that the contrary winds had forwarded her in her course. Yet such is history !"

In reference to the study of history, I have elsewhere remarked upon the im portance, among the intellectual qualifications for such a study, of a vivid imagination,--a faculty which, consequently, a skillful narrator must himself possess, and to which he must be able to furnish excitement in others. Some may, per

haps, be startled at this remark, who have been accustomed to consider imagination as having no other office than to feign and to falsify. Every faculty is liable to abuse and misdirection, and imagination among the rest ; but it is a mistake to suppose that it necessarily tends to pervert the truth of history, and to mislead the judgment. On the contrary, our view of any transaction, especially one that is remote in time or place, will necessarily be imperfect, generally incorrect, unless it embrace something more than the bare outline of the occurrences,-unless we have before the mind a lively idea of the scenes in which the events wok place, the habits of thought and of feeling of the actors, and all the circumstances connected with the transaction; unless, in short, we can in a considerable degree transport ourselves out of our own age, and country, and persons, and imagine ourselves the agents or spectators. It is from consideration of all these circumstances that we are enabled to form a right judgment as to the facts which history records, and to derive instruction from it. What we imagine may indeed be merely imaginary, that is, unreal; but it may again be what actually does or did exist. To say that imagination, if not regulated by sound judgment and sufficient knowledge, may chance to convey to us false impressions of past events, is only to say that man is fallible. But such false impressions are even much the more likely to take possession of those whose imagination is feeble or uncultivated. They are apt to imagine the things, persons, times, countries, &c., which they read of, is much less different from what they see around them than is really the case.

The practical importance of such an exercise of imagination to a full, and clear, and consequently profitable view of the transactions related in history, can hardly be over-estimated. In respect of the very earliest of all human transactions, it is matter of common remark how prone many are to regard with mingled wonder, contempt, and indignation, the transgression of our first parents; as if they were not a fair sample of the human race; as if any of us would not, if he had been placed in precisely the same circumstances, have acted as they did. The Corinthians, probably, had perused with the same barren wonder the history of the backslidings of the Israelites; and needed that Paul should remind them, that these things were written for their example and admonition. And all, in almost every portion of history they read, have need of a corresponding warning, to endeavor to fancy themselves the persons they read of, that they may recognize in the accounts of past times the portraiture of our own. From not putting ourselves in the place of the persons living in past times, and entering fully into all their feelings, we are apt to forget how probable many things might appear, which we know did not take place; and to regard as perfectly chimerical, expectations which we know were not realized, but which, had we lived in those times, we should doubtless have entertained; and to imagine that there was no danger of those evils which, were, in fact, escaped. We are apt also to make to little allowances for prejudices and associations of ideas, which no longer exist precisely in the same form among ourselves, but which, perhaps, are not more at variance with right reason than others with which ourselves are infected.

"Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability." We should, then, cultivate, not only the cornfields of our minds, but the pleasure-grounds also. Every faculty and every study, however worthless they may be, when not employed in the service of God,-however debased and pol

luted when devoted to the service of sin,-become ennobled and sanctified when directed, by one whose constraining motive is the love of Christ, towards a good object. Let not the Christian, then, think “soorn of the pleasant land.” That land is the field of ancient and modern literature of philosophy, in almost all its departments—of the arts of reasoning and persuasion. Every part of it may be cultivated with advantage, as the Land of Canaan when bestowed upon God's peculiar people. They were not commanded to let it lie waste, as incurably polluted by the abominations of its first inbabitants ; but to cultivate it, and dwell in it, living in obedience to the divine laws, and dedicating its choicest fruits to tho Lord their God.


To understand the real progress which has been made in the organization, administration, and instruction of institutions of learning in this country, and at the same time to appreciate the importance of many agencies and means of popular education besides schools, books, and teachers, we must, as far as we can, look into the schools themselves, as they were fifty and sixty years ago, and realize the difficulties and deficiences under which some of the noblest characters of our history were developed. As a contribution to our knowledge of these difficulties and deficiences in our schools, we bring together the testimony of several eminent men who were pupils or teachers in these schools, and who assisted in various ways in achieving their improvement.


NEW HAVEN, March 10th, 1840. MR. BARNARD: Dear Sir-You desire me to give you some information as to the mode of instruction in common schools when I was young, or before the Revolution. I believe you to be better acquainted with the methods of managing common schools, at the present time, than I am; and I am not able to institute a very exact comparison between the old modes and the present. From what I know of the present schools in the country, I believe the principal difference between the schools of former times and at present consists in the books and instruments used in the modern schools.

When I was young, the books used were chiefly or wholly Dilworth's Spelling Books, the Psalter. Testament, and Bible. No geography was studied before the publication of Dr. Morse's small books on that subject, about the year 1786 or 1787. No history was read, as far as my knowledge extends, for there was no abridged history of the United States. Except the books above mentioned, no book for reading was used before the publication of the Third Part of my Institute, in 1785. In some of the early editions of that book, I introduced short notices of the geography and history of the United States, and these led to more enlarged descriptions of the country. In 1788, at the request of Dr. Morse, I wrote an account of the transactions in the United States, after the Revolution; which account fills nearly twenty pages in the first volume of his octavo editions.

Before the Revolution, and for some years after, no slates were used in common schools: all writing and the operations in arithmetic were on paper. The teacher wrote the copies and gave the sums in aritbmetic; few or none of the pupils having any books as a guide. Such was the condition of the schools in which I received my early education.

The introduction of my Spelling Book, first published in 1783, produced a great change in the department of spelling; and, from the information I can gain, spelling was taught with more care and accuracy for twenty years or more after that period, than it has been since the introduction of multiplied books and studies. *

No English grammar was generally taught in common schools when I was young, except that in Dilworth, and that to no good purpose. In short, the instruction in schools was very imperfect, in every branch; and if I am not misinformed, it is so to this day, in many branches. Indeed there is danger of running from one extreme to another, and instead of having too few books in our schools, we shall have too many. I am, sir, with much respect, your friend and obedient servant,

N. WEBSTER. Dr. Webster in an essay published in a New York paper in 1788, “On the Education of Youth in America,” and in another essay published in Hartford, Ct., in 1790, “On Property, Government, Education, Religion, Agriculture, etc., in the United States,"1 while setting forth some of the cardinal doctrines of American education as now held, throws light on the condition of schools and colleges in different parts of the country at that date.

The first error that I would mention is a too general attention to the dead languages, with a neglect of our own. * * * This neglect is so general that there is scarcely an institution to be found in the country where the English tongue is taught regularly from its elements to its pure and regular construction in prose and verse. Perhaps in most schools boys are taught the definition of the parts of speech, and a few hard names which they do not un. derstand, and which the teacher seldom attempts to explain : this is called learning grammar. * * * The principles of any science afford pleasure to the student who comprehends them. In order to render the study of language agreeable, the distinctions between words should be illustrated by the difference in visible objects. Examples should be presented to the senses which are the inlets of all our knowledge.

Another error which is frequent in America, is that a master undertakes to teach many different branches in the same school. In new settlements, where the people are poor, and live in scattered situations, the practice is often unavoidable. But in populous towns it must be considered as a defective plan of education. For suppose the teacher to be equally master of all the branches which he attempts to teach, which seldom happens, yet his attention must be distracted with a multiplicity of objects, and consequently painful to himself, and not useful to to his pupils. Add to this the continual interruptions which

• The general use of my Spelling Book in the United States has had a most extensive effect in correcting the pronunciation of words, and giving uniformity to the language. Of this change, the present generation can have a very imperfect idea

These essays were afterwards collected with others in a volume entitled "A Collection of Essays and Fugitive Writings, etc." By Noah Webster, Jr. Boston: 1790.

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