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venerable institutions, the beneficial effects which flowed from them, most powerfully call upon the existing governments, if not for their adoption, at least for a patient investigation of their merits, and an impartial estimate of their effects. The general practices, indeed, of those countries and times of simplicity, it is neither possible nor requisite to adapt to the habits of the present day. It is not recommended that we should accustom young men to behold the naked female, in order to teach them modesty; nor that the ladies should publicly wrestle, in order to brace their nerves; nor that we should all dine at a public table, in order to learn temperance. That those means were bad, or were productive of effects different from the intended, is, however, no argument against the general principle. Much of their practice we resign to well-merited censure, and many of their plans to unla. mented obscurity ; but the principle, that the education of the individual is one of the most imperious duties of the state*, is wor. thy of a most serious consideration, that we may decide upon its expediency, to what extent it should be adopted, and where it is necessary that we should retrench, extend, and improve that dis. tinguishing part of ancient policy, which so decidedly marked, and so long preserved, the national character. A recurrence to the customs of the earlier ages is beneficial at all times, and par. ticularly when there is a tendency to luxury and deterioration, Such a review will call off the attention from superfluities, and fix them upon the necessaries of life :—the former of which, any people far advanced in refinement, is apt to regard too much, and the latter too little. The more the practices of those times are reverted to and renewed, the more likely is this evil to be remedied; for mankind had then too many wants to allow leisure, and too much occupation to breed inclination, for more than practical knowledge.
It is not my intention to propose even the outline of any plan of national education. It may be done at some future period; but would at present lead into a discussion much too long. It will be sufficient for this occasion to observe, that it might be under a management nearly similar to the established church : the managers to have the examination and nomination of the school. masters, the choice of situation, and the appointment of the number of scholars; and an uncontrouled power over the objects and mode of education. The abolition of sinecure places has been so often recommended, and the salaries so often appropriated to other purposes, that it would be too hard to press them into the support of the expences of this establishment. But these may be defrayed from a fund raised by a regular and proportionate levy on the country in general ; and it is likely enough that this would be much lighter than the sums now paid for the same purpose. With a view of more correctly estimating the effects of the plan, as well as forwarding its views, there should be periodical public examinations, and the schools should be always subject to visitations of the directors.
* When the boys were emancipated from the jurisdiction of women, they were not entrusted, as in other countries, to the mercenary tuition of slaves, who might degrade their sentiments and corrupt their morals. The educa, tion of youth, as an object of the highest confidence, was committed to those who had enjoyed, or who were entitled to enjoy, the most splendid dignities of the republic.--Gillies' Ancient Greece, Vol I., ch. iii.
In a country so jealous,--so properly jealous, of its liberty, as England, an instantaneous objection will be raised to the addition of power, which, on the adoption of such a plan, would necesa sarily be reposed in the government. But this watchfulness, in general so laudable, is, in this instance, needless. In this country, at least, so wisely balanced, so composed of checks and counterchecks--if there were inclination, opportunity, and an attempt to violate this confidence, there is a remedy provided to visit the transgressors with punishment proportionate to their crime. A House of Commons, composed of men possessing, in the least degree, honour and public spirit, has power to stop the progress of any innovation, or abuse of the trust. Besides, there are already (nay, there must be) many other discretionary powers placed in the hands of the rulers; these are so seldom abused, that custom has rendered us almost insensible to them. The or. daining of clergymen,-calling law-students to the bar,---licensing physicians, and others of like nature,—what are they but so many instances of the same power, to which the same jealous spirit might take similar objections ?' And yet few evils arise from the exercise of these customs. It is true, that worthy characters might occasionally be rejected through the influence of a great man, or from some particular prejudice. But this will not ex. clude them from making use of their talents and following their inclination; since the same toleration which permits unordained persons to expound the doctrines of Holy Writ, and unlicensed persons to practise physic, need not be denied to an unauthorised schoolmaster. No evil then can arise in the selection of the master, and still less can be feared in the objects of education to be pursued by the pupil. These once fixed, any deviation from them, will be speedily observed and easily corrected. Above all, the system adopted in ancient Greece, so far from possessing a tendeney to the subversion of liberty, was the great promoter of public spirit, and consequently the great preserver of public liberty. " It will not be easy,” says an historian, " to point out a nation who united a more complete subordination to established authority with a higher sense of personal independence, and a more respect.
ful regard to the dictates of religion with a more ardent spirit of martial enterprise. The generous quality of their establishments raised them to a certain elevation of character which will be for ever remembered and admired *. Gilbert Wakefield, too, that man of sincerity and simplicity, that dignified sufferer in the cause of mental freedom--after mentioning the little progress he made under his first two or three masters, arising from their igno. rance and unskilfulness, declares it to be his “humble opinion, that this enormous usurpation of stupidity and impudence ought to be made a national concern.” And in allusion to the supposed danger of liberty, he adds, “ I cherish liberty, I think, with a warmth of at. tachment inferior to no man; but I should rejoice to see, I confess, some restrictions in the case before me. Men of acknowledged qualifications should be appointed to examine, with a scrupulous and conscientious accuracy, the competency of all who un. dertake the business of teaching ; and none should be allowed to exercise this arduous office, but those who could endure the fiery ordeal. For my own part, I look upon the generality of these preceptors as robbers of hope and opportunity,—those blessings for which no compensation can be made+.” This, it is true, is only an opinion ; but the testimony of such a man possesses the power of an argument. Even taking for granted this supposed hostility to liberty, perhaps even then, it will be only a question whether a man shall be the slave of himself or of others. We need not go to philosophers, with this alternative, to learn in which instance he would be most miserable in himself as well as most noxious to so. ciety.
The advantages of such a plan are many and great. The preceptor would possess a less irksome and a more honourable sta. tion, together with a more certain and permanent' reward ;-the pupil would receive a more useful education, and, consequently, the state would become possessed of better subjects. If we are not allowed to calculate upon the benefits which proceeded from it in former times,-public spirit, patriotism, a contempt of dail. ger, an endurance of pain, generosity, a well-regulated sensibility, &c.,—we may certainly be allowed to suppose that it will the bet. ter fit men for the duties of life, because it will be better supplied with good instructors; and that it is most likely to bring into notice, and to apply in the best way, to the national advan, tage, superior talents of every description. The system of the
VOL. II. NO. III.
* Gillies' Ancient Greece, Vol. I.
* “ Argument is like an arrow from a cross-bow, which has equal force though shot by a child. Testimony is like an arrow shot froin a long bow, tbc force of it depends on the strength of the band that draws it."-Bacon.
Jesuits* may here be adopted, not for the advantage of a few, bu for the general good, The particular turn of every individual (no matter whether derived from nature or produced by accident) may be directed to national advantage, and talents in general be allotted to such occupations asmay be most congenial to them.
Another advantage would be in the overthrow of scholastic quackery. Though perhaps we may every where find people pretending to more knowledge than they possess, yet professions are peculiarly exposed to the intrusions of mere pretenders to science. As few or none could pass the examination without the necessary qualifications, of course the number of ignoramuses who would be excluded, would make room for men duly worthy of the station. The place now impudently usurped by ignorance might then be occupied by many of our poorer clergy,-men whom it is impossi. ble to name, as a body, without a mingled sentiment of respect and regret. Their office requires that they should be scholars, and their education gives assurance that they are gentlemen. That such men should be in indigence for want of proper employment, and in solitude for want of proper society, is what a feeling person cannot think of without the keenest sorrow. Their poverty precludes their enjoyment of the pleasures of elevated society, and their education makes them unable to enter into those of the lower classes, To give them occupation in the instruction of youth, would be an additional incitement to them to become good scholars, and the pecuniary advantages they would derive from the occupation, would enable them to fill the rank they are entitled to possess. On a proper education, too, depends, in a great measure, the success of the doctrines they inculcate from the pulpit, Where, then, can we find persons more worthy or better capable than they, of undertaking the office? Every day more imperiously demands the adoption of some plan to oppose, in an ef. fectual and proper manner, the progress of dissenting principles. Those who differ with the doctrines or the practice of the Estab. lished Church, now begin a system of proselytism at a time when the impression is most easily and most permanently made. And whether their aim be commendable or not,-in the erection of Sunday-schools and other seminaries,—they must be allowed to have taken the most effectual means of securing its accomplish. ment. To imitate their commendable zeal, will very considerably check the further progress of their doctrines, and defeat the only plea that exists for their interference.
* !! In order that the general, who is the soul that animates and moves the whole society, may have under his eyes every thing necessary to inform or direct him, the provincials and heads of the several houses are obliged to transmit to him regular and frequent reports concerning the members under their inspection. In this they descend into minute details with respect to the character of each person, his abilities, natural or acquired, his temper, his experience in affairs, and the particular department for which he is best fitted. These reports, when digested and arranged, are entered into regis ters kept on purpose, that the general may, at one comprehepsive view, survey the state of the society in every corner of the earth ; observe the qualifi, cations and talents of its inembers; and thus choose, with perfect information, the instruments he would employ,”-Robertson's Charles V., Book VI.
How much good might this society have done, if it had laudably dia reçted its attention to national advantage, and put confined itself to the prosperity merely of its order. As it was, however, the services it rendered to literature, and to the freedom of human intellect, will be remembered and live in their effects longer than the avarice and the ambition,-ig a word, the selfishness, of this remarkable body,
The mitigation of the criminal code has lately occupied the at. tention of the legislature, -a measure, of which, however necessary at present, there would be little need if education were a nation. al concern, and more widely diffused. The perseverance, the un. ceasing prudence, and the moral rectitude so common among our northern brethren, from which, more than any thing else, pro. ceeds their universal success, is to be attributed solely to the diffusion of knowledge among the lower classes. To infuse simi. lar principles into the general body of Englishmen, would be productive of the same effect. The legislature, therefore, if it is not disposed to acquiesce in a mitigation of the severity of the laws, is bound to take every precaution which may prevent their infringement. No doubt this is to be found in the
admi. nistration and universal diffusion of instruction; for there is scarcely a single unfortunate sufferer under the violated laws of his country, whose crimes may not be traced to the errors or the neglect of his education. The very
first mention of a system of national instruction is likely to provoke a retort of the charge of speculation, which this paper mentioned at its commencement. It has, however, the practice of ancient times to countenance it,—and its effects to de. fend it. That it is not inconsistent with the present time, exam. ples, apparent on the least reflection, may readily be adduced. It is neither theoretical nor impracticable; the existing system is, ge. perally speaking, abominable, and the adoption of a new one, if it will not rectify all the present errors, will certainly destroy'a great many; and at least it will rouse attention to the subject, and increase the volume of experience. The furtherance of such a plan is an object which any one anxious for glory, or solicitous for the pube lic good, must contemplate with delight. Its accomplishment would shed lustre round a throne and diffuse happiness among a people.-Nor could a reign commence with greater glory, or with the real good of society more in view, than one, the first act of which should be an attention to carrying into effect-a system of National Education.
R. F. E. x 2