Зображення сторінки

abhored those notions that would keep men always as they are, both because they seemed to him treason against our common nature, and to lead, of necessity, to revolution and anarchy. But he desired, that every attempt at improvement should be made with a profound consideration of all the experience of the past. He believed, that the principles at present in operation have been in operation from the beginning; and consequently, that, by a use of the knowledge of the past, we may save ourselves from innumerable blunders and incalculable mischief. He intended, therefore, so to teach history, as to render it the means of communicating, not merely facts, but the rationale of the facts; guiding the pupil to a knowledge of the principles of human conduct, of political rights, of moral philosophy as applied to society, and thus, in a word, to genuine, highminded statesmanship.

Every one must be aware of the immense effect that must have been produced upon his pupils by a training of this kind. They would go forth, even in youth, rich in knowledge, and strong in the power to use that knowledge; wise far beyond their age, and in consequence of that wisdom, humble and modest. It is, moreover, evident, that no one but a man of high talent could carry out such a system of education, and also, that nothing would so finish and perfect his talent as the very act of thus carrying it out. Dull, formal instruction dwarfs the mind of teacher and pupil; vigorous and manly instruction expands the faculties of both in almost equal measure. It was this very exercise of mind, daily calling all his energies into active employment, that rendered him capable of performing those other works, which would have seemed suffi. cient for the exclusive labor of even an able man.

The question can not but arise to every man among us-shall we ever have such schools as this in our country? We are obliged to answer, --with our present opinions and practice, never. An education such as we have been considering, requires sufficient time allotted to the pupil, and sufficient ability to accomplish it in the instructor. Our system deliberately excludes both conditions. The beau ideal of our system is to render the course of education as cheap and as short as possible. We have succeeded in our attempt. We have made it very cheap, and such as may be acquired in a very short time; but after all, it is worth no more than we give for it.

The truth is, that a liberal education is necessarily an expensive accomplishment. It requires high talent to conduct it: and high talent can be commanded only by suitable remuneration. It requires many years of exclusive study on the part of the pupil, --of study so exclusive that he can profitably employ this time in no other occupation. With adequate instructors, under a proper system of stimulants and encouragement, and with sufficient time given to their work, we should make as good scholars as any people on earth. But we proceed on principles precisely the reverse. In the first place, we act upon the belief, that the most perfect system of classical education is that which will enable a young man, commencing his studies without a dollar in his pocket, and laboring in vacations, or by the receipt of scanty eleemosynary assistance, to proceed Bachelor of Arts without ever finding himself in debt. Hence, we reduce the salaries of teachers very far below those of any other professional men, and make these salaries in no manner dependent upon the success or ability of the instructor. We make the requisitions for admission to college such as to meet the circumstances of those who can not afford to spend more than a year, or a year and a half, in preparation. We crowd every sort of knowledge into the compass of four years, because we wish our youth to know everything; we then shorten the period of study by useless vacations, so that the indigent may be better able to support themselves; and then blame our schools and colleges, because they produce so little effect upon the intellectual character of their pupils.

It will of course be asked, -are you, then, proposing to exclude the poor from the blessings of a liberal education? We answer, — we propose to exclude nobody; we are merely setting forth the reason why our course of liberal education is no better. Without regard to rich or poor, we would seek to make the education good. If a man of talents and good character be poor, it is a public service to assist him in becoming more useful to the community. If a man have not talent, it is commonly a misfortune to him and to the community to place him in a profession. But in neither case can any reason be found for accommodating the whole system of public education throughout the land to meet his pecuniary ability. There are many persons in every community, who can afford to pay but one-third of the ordinary price for a wheaten loaf. Would it be wise or just to reduce the wages of bakers to meet this exigency, to make bread of course flour, and, in order to economize still more, allow it to be only half-baked, and then enact, that no other bread but that produced in this man. ner should be eaten?

We have left no space, if we had the inclination, to present an estimate of Dr. Wayland's labors as an educator. The statement of facts which in the beginning we proposed, has furnished to every reader an opportunity to judge for himself of the value of those labors, and of the ability and spirit and success of the man. Probably no man living places a lower estimate on the services to the world, of this venerable teacher, than he himself. We regret that the thonght has ever occurred to him that he might have served his generation and his Divine Master with greater acceptance in another sphere. For all the qualities which he possesses in an eminent degree-such as a natural horror of trick and quackery, and a soul full of honor, quick sympathies with the afflicted and oppressed, a companionable nature, and fervent piety, have tended to give him special power and success as an educator. And we can not forbear to add that his endowments as a thinker and writer, his patience and persistency in following up any plan, the singular concentration with which he can gather all his faculties for the work he has to do, and his capacity for detail and administration would have secured distinction in any career. If he had chosen, he might have stood among the most conspicuous of his country's statesmen or merchant princes. As it is, he ranks among the most remarkable teachers and writers of our time.





In the long train of her joyous anniversaries, New England has yet beheld no one more illustrious than this. We have assembled to-day, not to proclaim how well our fathers have done, but to inquire how we may enable their sons to do better. We meet, not for the purposes of empty pageant, nor yet of national rejoicing; but to deliberate upon the most successful means for cultivating, to its highest perfection, that invaluable amount of intellect, which Divine Providence has committed to our hands. We have come up here to the city of the Pilgrims, to ask how we may render their children most worthy of their ancestors and most pleasing to their God. We meet to give to each other the right hand of fellowship in carrying forward this all-important work, and here to leave our professional pledge, that, if the succeeding generation do not act worthily, the guilt shall not rest upon those who are now the Instructors of New England.

Well am I aware that the occasion is worthy of the choicest effort of the highest talent in the land. Sincerely do I wish, that upon such talent the duty of addressing you this day had devolved. Much do I regret that sudden indisposition has deprived me of the time which had been set apart to meet the demands of the present occasion, and that I am only able to offer for your consideration such reflections as have been snatched from the most contracted leisure, and gleaned amid the hurried hours of languid convalescence. But I bring, as an offering to the cause of Education, a mind deeply penetrated with a conviction of its surpassing importance, and enthusiastically ardent in anticipating the glory of its ultimate results. I know, then, that I may liberally presume upon your candor, while I rise to address those, to very many of whom it were far more beseeming that I quietly and humbly listened.

The subject which I have chosen for our mutual improvement, is, The object of intellectual education; and the manner in which that object is to be attained. I. It hath pleased Almighty God to place us under a constitution of universal law. By this we mean, that nothing, either in the physical, intellectual, or moral world, is in any proper sense contingent. Every event is preceded by its regular antecedents, and followed by its regular consequents; and hence is formed that endless chain of cause and effect which binds together the innumerable changes which are taking place everywhere around us.

When we speak of this system as subjected to universal law, we mean all this ; but this is not all that we mean. The term law, in a higher sense, is applied to beings endowed with conscience and will, and then there is attached to it the idea of rewards and punishments. It is then used to signify a constitution so arranged, that one course of action shall be inevitably productive of happiness, and another course shall be as inevitably productive of misery. Now, in this higher sense is it strictly and universally true, that we are placed under a constitution of law. Every action which we perform, is as truly amenable as inert matter, to the great principles of the government of the universe, and every action is chained to the consequences which the Creator has affixed to it, as unalterably as any sequence of cause and effect in physics. And thus, with equal eloquence and truth, the venerable Hooker has said, “Of Law, there can be no less acknowledged, than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world; all things in heaven and earth do her homage, the very least as feeling her care, and the very greatest as not exempted from her power; both angels and men and creatures of what condition soever, though each in different sort and manner, yet all with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy."

Such a constitution having been established by a perfectly wise Creator, it may be easily supposed that it will remain unchangeable. His laws will not be altered for our convenience. We may obey them or disobey them, we may see them or not see them, we may be wise or unwise, but they will be rigidly and unalterably enforced. Thus must it ever be, until we have the power to resist the strength of omnipotence.

Again; it is sufficiently evident that the very constitution which God has established, is, with infinite wisdom and benevolence, devised for just such a being, physical, intellectual, and moral, as man. By obedience to the laws of God, man may be as happy as his present state will allow. Misery is always the result of a violation of some of the laws which the Creator has established. Hence, our great business here, is, to know and obey the laws of our Creator.

That part of man by which we know, and, in the most important sense, cbey the laws of the Creator, is called mind. I use the word in its general sense, to signify, not merely a substance, not matter, capable of intellection, but one also capable of willing, and to which is attached the responsibility of right and wrong in human action. And, still further, it is one of the laws of mind, that increased power for the acquisition of knowledge, and a more universal disposition to obedience, may be the result of the action of one mind upon another, or, of the well-directed efforts of the individual mind itself.

Without some knowledge of the laws of nature, it is evident that man would immediately perish. But it is possible for him to have only so much knowledge of them as will barely keep generation after generation in existence, without either adding anything to the stock of intellectual acquisition, or subjecting to his use any of the various agents which a bountiful Providence has everywhere scattered around, for the supply of his wants and the relief of his necessities. Such was the case with the Aborigines of our country, and such had it been for centuries. Such, also, with but very few and insignificant exceptions, is the case in Mohammedan and Pagan countries. The sources of their happiness are few and intermitting—those of their misery multiplied and perpetual.

Looking upon such nations as these, we should involuntarily exclaim, What a waste of being, what a loss of happiness, do we behold! Here are intelligent creatures, placed under a constitution devised by Infinite Wisdom to promote their happiness. The very penalties which they suffer, are so many proofs of the divine goodness—mere monitions to direct them in the paths of obedience. And besides this, they are endowed with a mind perfectly formed to investigate and discover these laws, and to derive its highest pleasure from obeying them. Yet that mind, from want of culture, has become useless. It achieves no conquests. It removes no infelicities. Here, then, must the remedy be applied. This immaterial part must be excited to exertion, and must be trained to obedience. Just so soon as this process is commenced, a nation begins to emerge from the savage, and enter upon the civilized state. Just in proportion to the freedom and the energy with which the powers of the mind are developed, and the philosophical humility with which they are exercised, does a people advance in civilization. Just in proportion as a people is placed under contrary influences, is its movement retrograde.

The science which teaches us how to foster these energies of mind is the science of Education. In few words, I would say, the object of the science of Education, is, to render mind the fittest possible instrument for disCOVERING, APPLYING, or OBEYING, the laws under which God has placed the universe.

« НазадПродовжити »