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stages in the progress of their development, must be conscious of having to unlearn, if it may be so called, most of the acquirements of youth. That is, they must break up the arrangement and classification of their knowledge, which have been made upon a method repugnant to the principles of the mind ; and make a new classification upon the correct principle. This, all must do, whether they are conscious of it or not, who are destined to make much progress in knowledge. Although this is not so difficult a process, as might, at first, be imagined ; yet, the powers of the mind must be somewhat paralyzed in their development, and checked in the acquirement of knowledge, by the change of important principles, in the method of acquirement. The advantage of taking the correct and philosophical method at the earliest age, and pursuing it without interruption or change, can hardly be estimated This is an achievement, which remains yet to be made ; and it is one, whose influence on the sciences, and the condition of mankind, cannot be distinctly foreseen.
The triumph of the inductive logick, although it is a cause, which has more changed the state of the arts and sciences, and consequently the whole face of the world, than any other, which has operated within the reach of history, is but half complete, till it is carried into the subject of education. The principles of the inductive philosophy should be as rigorously followed in education, as any other department of human knowledge. The school books, and we may add the text books of the colleges, are certainly not written upon the inductive method. And these are our instructers, or the models, on which our instructers form us. The books to be sure have been written over and over again, in order to keep pace with, and incorporate the improvements and discoveries in the different sciences, of which they treat, This is well, and as it should be. But the essential principle, on which they are written, is the same through all changes. This is wrong, and what should be corrected. Improvements in arrangement, and in the manner of expressing the principles of the sciences, have, no doubt, been frequently made. Indeed, the books have probably been carried to as great perfection, as they can be carried, without some more essential change in the principles, on which they have been written. They are very well executed, upon a very bad plan. The reason to be assigned for such slow progress in the improvements of school books, in particular, is a mistaken notion of the purpose of a school book ; and the fact, that there have seldom been brought to the task of elementary instruction, talents capable of comprehending, at once, the principles of a science, in their relation and dependance upon each other; and still less capable of analyzing the powers of the young mind, to which the science is to be adapted. The books for elementary instruction, have been written or compiled, with a view to set forth the principles of the science, of which it treats, in a manner the most philosophical to those who make the books, but with little or no reference to the young minds, which are to encounter them. The object of the education, which can be given in the schools of this country, or even the colleges, is not so much to give knowledge, as to develop the powers of the mind, and strengthen them for the acquirement of knowledge, at some. future period. Every thing, therefore, even philosophical accuracy, if it is necessary, must be sacrificed to the single object of adaptation to the mind. It is of little consequence, what the study is, which the child or youth is put upon, if it be so managed, as to bring forward all the powers of the mind, in their proper and natural order. And when the mind has acquired some strength by discipline, and a just balance among all its faculties, its attention may then be turned towards the acquirement of useful knowledge, with a good hope of success. But impatient parents have estimated instructers, by their ability to give a smattering of learning in some branch of knowledge, rather than their ability to watch over and detect all wrong associations; and to preserve the balance essential to a well disciplined mind, by encouraging or repressing different faculties as the particular case may require. Perfection of education consists more in the harmony and just proportion of all the powers of the mind, than in the overgrown strength of any one. When the plan of a school book, or the arrangement of studies generally,
is such as to exercise but few or one power, this takes the lead. It monopolizes an undue share of energy, and becomes overgrown at the expense of some, or all of the other powers. The features of the mind become distorted, and unless the deformity is corrected by the judicious instructer, the effect will become permanent, and extend to the whole character.
IF Socrates was said to have brought philosophy from heaven, Bacon may as truly be said to have infused it into men. · The generations, that have lived between that prodigy of human intellect and ourselves, have acknowledged their obligations to him, and no doubt profited much by his instructions. But, it is apprehended, his philosophy is not yet brought down to our comprehension, and carried thoroughly and effectually into all our intellectual exertions. It is said, he felt that he belonged to a later age, than that, in which he lived ; and in anticipation of his increasing fame, “ bequeathed his name to posterity, after some generations shall be passed.?* Perhaps this generation is the intended heir ; and it is high time, they had put in their claim to enjoy the inheritance.
There are no means, by which we may derive more advantage from his philosophy, and consequently render more honour to his name, than by applying it to the subject of education, or the science of instruction. The applicability of his philosophy to this subject, has been, long since, acknowledged by high authority. And the distance between the acknowledgment of the principle, and the application of it, has not been greater, than was to be expected ; especially, when we consider, that the application depended upon judgments warped by all the prejudices or “ Idols” of the mind, formed under the reign of a different philosophy.
Mr. Stewart, sketching a system of logick, observes : 6 Another very important branch of a rational system of logick, ought to be, to lay down the rules of investigation, which it is proper to follow in the different sciences.” And when, farther on, he tells us how to lay down such rules of investigation, he says : “ Such is the incapacity of most people for abstract reasoning, that I am inclined to think, even if the rules of inquiry were delivered in a perfectly complete, and unexceptionable form, it might still be expedient to teach them to a majority
* Stewart's Dissertation on the History of Philosophy. Part i. p. 94.