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MORAL INSTRUCTOR, &c.
NECESSITY AND ADVANTAGES OF KNOWL
“ Man's general ignorance, old as the flood,
« For ages on ages has steep'd him in blood." NOWLEDGE is essentially necessary to the well
being and happiness of every member of the human family, whether male or female, rich or poor.
To ignorance may be traced, the origin of most of the vices, crimes, crrors and follies that distract and destroy mankind. It is the mother of misery a mazy lahy. rinth of perpetual night. Knowledge, on the contrary, is a torch perpetually flaming, which enables its possessor, 10 see clearly and understand cvery thing that surrounds hin. It affords certain consolation, in all cases of difficulty and danger. Besides the intellectual pleasure, derived from the possession of knowledge, which far exceeds that of animal sensuality, the well informed man, (mechanic, farmer, or of whatever profession) being acquaintcd with the laws of nature-- with moral and physical causes and effects, is capable of providing, gencarlly with certainty, for the prosperity and sccurily of himself and his family.
General instruction, therefore, is the harbinger of national and indivi.lual prosperiiy and happiness.
While our generous Legislatures are imitating the pollcy of European Monarchies, in making liberal appropriations for enlightening the few, by the endowment of Colleges and Universities, would not the many (who, in this country; supply their legislators with power as well as money) cordially cherish a policy, calculated, at the same time, to diffuse a small portion of the accumulated treasures of intellectual light of the present era, amongst themselves and their own children.
The late enthusiastic Champion of the rights of man, Samuel Adams, in a letter to his venerable friend, Johir Adams, exerting his utmost eloquence to convince him of the superiority of the representative system of legislation, exclaims-"In order to secure the perpetuation of our excellent form of government to future generations, let Divines and Philosophers, Stalesmen and Patriots, unite their endeavors to renovale the age, by impressing the minds of the people with the importance of educating their liltle boys and girls,' &c.
Joseph Lancaster has discovered a method, which gives incalculable facility to the universal dissemination of the preliminary rudiments of scierce; and is rapidly gaining general assent in the United States. But the education of youth should not cease with the expiration of their attendance on public schools. The chasm between this period and that of their corporeal maturity, contains many stumbling blocks and dangerous snares. The art of reading, without books to read, is to the mind, as is a set of good teeth to the budy, without food to masticate; they will alike suffer the evils of disease, decay, and eventual ruin.
The printing press is the main engine, and books are the rapid vehicles for the general distribution of knowledge, Yet notwithstanding the prodigious difference between the cost of bools within !lie last 400 years, and the whole anterior space of time, but few comparatively can meet the expense of private libraries. Computing the leisure of every youih to be two hours daily, from the age of ten to twenty one years, independent of the requisite time for labor. sleep, cating, recreation, &c. and it is sufficient for reading a library of seven hundred volumes duodecir o, of 300 pages each. This only season for lay. . fng the foundation of a virtuous and happy lile, to che greatest portion of mankind, is totally lost. It is only necessary to offer kion ledge to the voluntary acceptance of youth, in a proper manter, to produce an ardent appetite for it.
Intellectual cultivation is the basis of virtue and happinest. As mental improvenient advances, vice and crimes recede. That desirable happy cra, when the spirit of peace and benevolence shall pervade all the nations which inhabit the earth, when both national and personal slatery shall be annihilated; when nations and individuals shall cease to hunt and destroy cach other's lives and property; when the science and implements of human preservation and felicity, shall be substituted for those of slaughter and woe; will commence, precisely at the moment when the rays of useful knowledge ord wisdom, shall have been extended to the whole human family. By useful knowledge, I mean, not only an acquaintance with valuable arts and sciences, but also an understanding of our various moral and religious duties, in relation to cur Creator, to our neighbor, and to ourselve. By wisdom, I mean that kind of sagacity, which influences us to regulate cur passions and conduct, in conformity to the precepis of kuowledge, reason and religion. Until an approach towards such a state of things, is effected, the names of peace, liberty, and security, on this earth, will differ but little from an ignis fatuus, either to norarchs or their vassals. At present, vico lence bears universal and imperial sway; and ignorance is the magic spell which sustains its sceptre. This dense mist which enshrouds nearly the whole human race, can be penetrated and removed, with much greater certainty and facility, by the mild but invincible rays of intellectual light, than by opposing violence with violence, and evil to evil, The traveller in Æsop's Fables, was induced 10' throw off his cloak, by the genıle but melting rays of the physical sun, after the wird had exerted its füry in vain.
What a boundles empire of glory and unalloyed bliss, might the monarchs and governments of the different nations, and al}
possesscrs of wealth attain, by causing their numerous subjects and bretlirer, perpetually er.compassed by the snares of ignorance, vice, and oppression, to be instructed; thereby elevating poor degraded afilicted human nature, to that scale of dignity in the crcation, which was evidently assigned to it, by the supreme parent of the universe. In our country, particularly, instruction ought to be universal. For virtuc cnly, can sustain ard perse uate our political
organization. “ With knowledge and virtue the united ef. forts of ignorance and tyranny may be defied." (Miller, governor of North Carolina.) “In a government where all may aspire, to the highest offices in the state, it is essential that education should be placed within the reach of ali. Without intelligence, self government, our dearest privilege, cannot be exercised." (Nicholas, governor of Virginia.) “Without knowledge, the blessings of liberty cannot be fully enjoyed or long preserved." (President Madison.)
Clinton, the present governor of New York, has elegantly expressed his sentiments, in his late speech, (of 1819) " l'hat education is the guardian of liberty and the bulwark of morality.--And that knowledge and virtue are generally speaking, inseparable companions, and are in the moral, what light and heat are in the natural world—the illuminating and vivifying principle."
General Washington, in his valedictory address to the people of the United States, says, “ Promote then, as objects of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge; in proportion as the structure of the government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”
But it has been questioned whether our constitution authorises the adoption of measures for the diffusion of knowledge and science. If our constitution does not now authorise measures which are likely to produce the greatest possible benefit to the country, and security to its liberties, it ought without delay to be so amended that it should.
Let American Legislators, both national and sectional, perform their duty to their country, and its posterity ; and to mankind, by listening to the wise counsels of many conspicuous living sages, and pursue without hesitation the ines imable " parting advice” of George Washington, Benjamin Rush, Samuel Adams, and other departed friends and patrons, of man; and establish public schools, and judiciously selected free public circulating libraries, in every part of the Republic. And as all men are vitally interested in the universal dissemination of knowledge and virtue, let all classes combine their influence and means, in aiding the cause of human happiness.
Dr. Rush, in his Oration, " or the influence of Physical causes upon the Moral Faculty,»* makes an earnest appeal in favor of knowledge :-“Nlustrious COUNSELLORS and SENATORS of Pennsylvania !” he exclaims, "] anticipate your candid reception of this feeble effort to increase the quantity of virtue in the republic.
“Nothing can be politically right, that is morally wrong; and no necessity can sanctify a law, that is contrary to equity. Virtue is the soul of the Republic. There is but one method of preventing crimes, and of rendering a republican form of government durable, and that is, by disseminating the seeds of virtue and knowledge, through every part of the state by means of proper places and modes of education, and this can be done effectually only by the interference and aid of the Legislature. Tam so deeply impressed with the truth of this opinion, that were this eve. ning to be the last of my life, I would not only say to the asylum of my ancestors, and my beloved country, with the patriot of Venice, “Esto perpetua,” but I would add as the last proof of my affection for her, my parting advice to the guardians of her liberties, “to establish PUBLIC SCHOOLS in every part of the State."
The discovery of the art of printing and of manufacturing paper, gives us a vast ascendancy over our ancestors in the propagation of knowledge. Dr. Darwin very properly, and very elegantly, calls the “PRINTING PRESS the most useful of modern inventions; the capacious reservoir of human knowledge, whose branching streams diffuse sciences, arts and morality, through all nations and ages." 56 Then, says Professor Waterhouse, did knowledge raise weeping humanity from the dust, and with her blazing torch, point the way to happiness and peace.”
"'Tis the prolific Press; wh:se tablet, fraught
BARLOW's COLUMBIAD. Let us suppose Confucius, Socrates, and Seneca, were permitted to resume the possession of their former bodies
Delivered in the presence of the Philos: phical Society and the Supreme executive Council of the Siale of Pennsylvania.