Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Even the love of a mother for a child, the work of a physician, or of a minister of the gospel, furnishes a good theme for the sentimental satirist. Dickens and Thackeray, and their hosts of imitators, find it easy to laugh at priest, doctor, and school-teacher, because they stand high, and, when caricatured, excite the astonishment and laughter of the unthinking. Socrates was the ripest product of the thought of the world; but his pug nose, and crooked limbs, and pertinacious habit of asking questions hard to be answered, furnished a prolific theme for Aristophanes, the great comedian and buffoon of the day. Lord Brougham and Prince Albert were ridiculed in almost every number of the London Punch for many years ; but their position in the hearts of the people was not disturbed. So, too, our honest and noble Abraham Lincoln has had his abundant share of caricature, often darkened and poisoned by the colors of envy and hatred; but they have fallen off as from the wings of an angel, and he has risen to his place among the few names that shall never be forgotten, and never repeated but with veneration and love.

The office of teacher is second to none. braces the noblest names of antiquity and of the present age. It creates and conserves genuine culture and liberty and manliness, It is estimated highly · by the people. Facts speak louder than words. The nation gives to the schools its money.

It em

In time of peace, for them the greatest expenditure is made. Beautiful, and, in some instances, palatial school-houses adorn our free States. Millions of money are expended to sustain our schools, and in them is our nation's hope.

Subjection to salutary law, developed social character, genuine politeness, patriotism, and a disciplined mind, are the indirect benefits of school education, in addition to the absolute information therein acquired.

I have purposely omitted the most valuable of all, moral and religious culture, because it is to be treated before this convention by others.

Allow me, in conclusion, to inquire whether more of this indirect and valuable good influence may not hereafter be commanded. Is the attention of the public, nay, of teachers themselves, sufficiently aroused to the constant influence of school-life, aside from what is directly learned, upon the rising generation, and thus, soon, upon the whole community ? Where so efficiently as in our schools can be imbibed a love of art, which may adorn our common character ? Should not all our school-houses be models of architectural beauty, and yet be constructed of various styles ? Should not the grounds around them unconsciously awaken a love for the picturesque and beautiful? Should there not be specimens of the best painting, and even sculpture, in our school-houses? Should not the alumni of our public schools be en

couraged to retain their interest in the schools, and to form associations of a literary character, to revisit the places clothed to them with such sacred associations, and to adorn them with gifts expressive of their attachment, and inspiring high and noble ambitions in their successors ? Are there not fields of improvement thus open before us, almost wholly unexplored ?

Where but in the school shall the whole public be taught the superiority of mind over matter, of true education over rank and wealth, and thus to be contented with those internal resources which a cultivated mind and heart can always, if industrious and prudent, command ?

But, should I continue these thoughts, I should intrench upon other themes.

other themes. Suffice it to say that the school is like the works of God, and indeed is demonstrated to be itself a work of God, most of all by the fact, that, while it accomplishes the great good primarily sought, its other influences are innumerable and exhaustless, and all in accordance with its character, beneficent and elevating, and that no language can over-state, no mind over-estimate, its indispen sableness to a free, self-governing people.

LECTURE III.

CIVIL POLITY A BRANCH OF SCHOOL

EDUCATION.

BY EMORY WASH BURN, LL. D.

The law of Massachusetts, in prescribing the subjects to be taught in her schools, enumerates among others “the civil polity of this Commonwealth and of the United States." The propriety of such a requirement is to form the theme of the remarks with which it is my privilege to occupy the passing hour.

It is hardly necessary, however, to premise that the subject is not circumscribed by state legislation, nor limited by territorial lines. The republic of letters has no such boundaries. And the culture which makes a man a wiser scholar or a better citizen in Massachusetts, may be relied on for like effects in other portions of our political republic. Regarding it, therefore, in its bearing upon the educational interests of our country, I propose to confine myself to the adaptation of the science of civil polity to the objects and

purposes

of our common schools.

In a subject, however, necessarily somewhat abstract and unfamiliar as a topic of school culture, I can hope to find little to interest beyond the fact of its intrinsic importance.

I hardly know in how broad a sense the framers of this law intended to use the term “civil polity," nor shall I venture to extend it beyond the principles, functions, and practical application of our system of government, whether state or national. In this sense, every citizen must be interested in its discussion, whether he is conscious of this or not. He is himself a part of the government. His will, his judgment, , and the prevailing tone of his opinions, help to form that moral power in the republic, that determines the character and the policy of its administration. But the science of government is not thus limited. It comprehends all the multifarious relations in which the different parts of a great people may stand to each other, as well as the interests which are involved in the intercourse of nations themselves. And when I repeat, the theory of our government makes every man an actor, directly or indirectly, in whatever relates to the domestic police or the external affairs of the State, it becomes an obvious proposition, that whatever of science there is in this, which is susceptible of being taught, should be studied in some form by every one upon whom the duties and responsibilities of the citizen may fall.

« ForrigeFortsett »