Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

SAMUEL PARR, D.D.-1747–1825. DR. SAMUEL Park was boro at Harrow-on-the Hill in 1737, spent two years in Emanuel College, Cambridge, and served as usher in Harrow School from 1767 to 1772, and afterwards as principal of a classical school at Colchester, and Norwich. His erudition was vast, and in spite of its frequently injudicious and inelegant ostentation, was pronounced by Macaulay “to be precious, massive, and splendid.” We give below brief passages from a Discourse on Education, preached in behalf of the Charity Schools of Norwich, December 25, 1770, to mark the transition in the aims of English Educators from the old doctrine of parochial, charitable, and endowed schools, to the broader practice of public instruction, supported by government appropriations, and property taxation.

EDUCATION IN RESPECT TO PENAL LEGISLATION. The great and fundamental principle upon which the whole system of penal laws has been erected is, that they are meant not so much to punish as to deter; not merely to lop off the offender, but chiefly to prevent his offenses from becoming contagious; not to gratify the malice of individuals, but to secure the public good. Now for purposes of prevention nearly similar, we defend the cause of early and religious education. It aims, indeed, at ends far more numerous than laws can attain, and it pursues them methods more generally applicable, and more agreeable to our humanity when they are applied.

In promoting the happiness of our species, much is, in Christian countries, effected by the authority of legal restraint, and much by public instruction from the pulpit. But education in the large and proper sense,* in which I have en. deavored to enforce it, may boast even of superior usefulness.

It comes home directly “ to the bosom and business of” young person's—it rectifies every principle, and controls every action—it prevents their attention from being relaxed by amusement, dissipated by levity, or overwhelmed by vice--it preserves them from falling a prey to the wicked examples of the world when they are in company, and from becoming slaves to their own turbulent appetites when they are in solitude. It is not occasional or desultory in its operation-on the contrary, it heaps "line upon line, and precept upon precept,"—it binds the commands of religion, for "a sign upon the hands of young men, and frontlets between their eyes,"—it is calculated to purify their desires, and to regulate their conduct, when they "sit in the house, and when they walk in the way;" when they "lie down in peace to take their rest," and when they "rise up” to' "go forth to their labor.” Now, in tracing the progress of society, whether it be collected from the records of Revelation or the deductions of Philosophy, from oral tradition or from historical evidence,

By education, I all along mean not merely the act of inculcating moral precepts and religions doctrine, but a series of discipline applied to the hearts and lives of young persons. I contend, however, that good instruction is instrumental in forming good habits.

we find that men first assembled in small companies, which are generally to be looked upon rather as tribes under a chieftain than as nations under a king.

The arts of policy were then confined to a narrow compass; the remains of private life were closely interwoven with those of public; and the education of children was subjected not only to the discretionary authority of parents, but to the immediate and frequent interpositions of lawgivers.

A custom which began among tribes continued afterwards in small States; and hence we find that by the laws of Sparta, the magistrates often laid down rules for training up children. But in larger kingdoms as in that of Persia, the system of instruction which fell under the notice of government, chiefly affected those who were born from noble parents, and intended for elevated stations. In states more civilized than Sparta, and more popular than Persia, the magistrates rather encouraged than directed education; and here we see it flourish with the greatest variety, and in the highest perfection. The man of fortune among the Athenians refined his manners by literal studies, enlarged his understanding in the schools of pbilosophy, and braced the powers of his body by the rough exercises of the gymnasia. But the lower citizens were content to acquire the art of reading, and hence among a people so fastidious and so high spirited as the Athenians were, “to be ignorant of letters," became a proverbial and poignant term of contempt. In our own country, the various plans of instruction are well adapted to the various classes of the community. Our public forms of education supply much of what was done in the larger states of antiquity, and by the methods taken for training up the children of the poor, we secure many of the benefits that were aimed at in the smaller. Accommodating thus our measures to the different exigencies of different times and places, we are at liberty to employ many expedients, which, in the distant and general view of a legislator, would be imperfectly provided for; and we avoid many inconveniences by which education would certainly be cramped, in consequence of rules indiscriminately prescribed and compul. .sorily enforced.

INDUSTRIAL ELEMENT IN SCHOOLS FOR THE POOR.

A moderate proportion of work, at the discretion of a committee for that purpose, is to be allotted, and their earnings during that time are to be regularly accounted for, and in case any child should, by greater industry, earn beyond that proportion, it becomes the property of that child, and is to be set apart for his use. It will produce rewards for the diligent; it will furnish materials of employment for the idle; it will enable you to instruct more boys than hitherto have been instructed, in reading and writing; it takes nothing from those who now read and write. We beget in these children more regular habits of industry, and we convey to them a more exact knowledge of the little arts in which they are employed, than desultory and solitary labor can be stow. We do not impose upon them such severe toils as will entirely disable the diligent from contributing at home to the support of their parents. We give them instruction, which is in some measure connected with the more la. borious employments to which they will be hereafter summoned ; and we provide, too, means of subsistence for seasons when the poor may derive many comforts yet unforeseen from the task you assign them. Those comforts may be found in change of place, in old age, or in an unprosperous state of trade.

BETTER EDUCATION OF GIRLS.

Women are no longer considered as being, what the great God of heaven and earth never intended they should be, an useless incumbrance, or a glittering, but empty ornament. They are found to be capable both of contributing to our conveniences, and of refining our pleasures. Their weakness is therefore protected, their fine sensibilities become the object of a regard that is founded on principle as well as on affection, and their talents are called forth into public notice. Hence the excellence which some of them have displayed, in the elegant accomplishments of painting, and music, and poetry; in the nice discriminations of biography; in the broader researches of history; in moral compositions, where the subject is not obscured by the arts of a quaint and spurious philosophy, but illuminated by the graces of an unaffected and natural eloquence; where, through the labyrinths in which are to be found the most hidden and complex principles of thought and action, we are conducted by the delicate and faithful clue of manners; and where, instead of being harassed by subtleties which beguile and weary the understanding, we are led, by a sort of magical attraction, through a long and varied train of sentiments, which charm and improve the heart. Hence the employment assigned to others in many different branches of manual labor. The employments which you have prescribed may be stretched almost through the whole circle of female duty and female economy, by those who are to pursue them. They contain whatever can be useful to them, whether as mistresses of little families which are their own, or as servants in the families of their superiors. They are calculated to cherish that prudence whic necessary in every station, and that cleanliness which is peculiarly ornamental to the female sex. They tend to produce such habits of industry as are connected with the immediate business of these little ones, and such, too, as they can with ease and with advantage carry into the very few domestic employments which are not directly included within our plan.

ADVANTAGES OF ENGLISH UNIVERSITIES.* This, I am aware, is not precisely the fittest opportunity for me to enter into a formal defense of them (the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford), or to expatiate upon their peculiar and indisputable advantages, upon those powerful correctives of singularity and frowardness which are found in the attrition of mind against mind on a spot where different classes live together under a system of general discipline, -upon the force of established rules in producing early habits of regularity and decorum,-upon the strong though easy yoke that is thrown over the impetuosity of youth, -upon the salutary influence among well impressed and well disposed young men, of that dunderia (youthful comradeship) which is so beautifully described, and so frequently extolled by the writers of antiquity,—upon the propensity of the heart unassailed by care, and untainted by selfishness, to form the best friendships from the best motives, -upon the generous sense of shame that must prevail among enlightened equals, observing the conduct of equals, and cultivating honor, not as a showy and artificial fashion, but as a natural sentiment, and even an indispensable duty,—upon the goodly effects that are wrought on the temper as well as taste, by the daily and hourly view of edifices, agreeable from convenience, or striking from magnificence, or venerable from antiquity,-upon the desire which pictures, statues, inscriptions, public harangues, and other local circumstances, may excite in men of vivid conceptions and glowing ambition, not merely to admire but to perpetuate and to share in the celebrity of places adorned through many successive ages by many bright luminaries of the schools, the pulpit, the bar, and the senate,—upon the tendency of well regulated amusements, and well directed studies, to plant within our bosoms those attachments to the seat of our education, which may afterwards expand into the love of our country, -upon the facility of access to well stored libraries, -upon the efficacy of oral instruction, judiciously and diligently communicated,-upon the competitions that will arise among numbers, whose judgments on the qualifications of each other are too frequent to be eluded, too impartial to be resisted, and too weighty to be slighted, -upon the institution of prizes for compositions to be recited in the Halls of Colleges, or the Theatres of the Universities,-upon the distribution of literary distinctions in seasons of general examination,-or, upon the connection of other academical rewards, lucrative or honorary, with moral and intellectual excellence. Waving, therefore, all such pertinent and interesting topics, I would only request that the usefulness of these seminaries, like that of every human institution, may be judged by their fruits.

* Note to the Spital Sermon, preached April 15, 1800.

Dr. Parr quotes passages from Dr. Johnson, Sir William Jones, and Dr. Lowth, to support his favorable estimate of English University Education. Dr. Johnson in the Idler (No. 21), says:

The number of learned persons in these celebrated seats is still considerable; and more conveniences and opportunities for study still subsist in them than in any other place. There is at least one powerful incentive to learning-I mean the genius of the place. This is a sort of inspiring duty, which every youth of quick sensibility and ingenuous disposition creates to himself

, by reflecting that he is placed under those venerable walls where a Hooker and a Hammond, a Bacon and a Newton, once pursued the same course of science, and from whence they soared to the most elevated heights of literary fame. This is that incitement, which Tully, according to his own testimony, experienced at Athens, when he contemplated the portico where Socrates sat, and the laurel-groves where Plato disputed. But there are other circumstances, and of the highest importance, which make our colleges superior to all places of education. These institutions, though somewbat fallen from their primary simplicity, are such as influence in a particular manner the moral conduct of their youths; and, in this general depravity of manners and laxity of principles, pure religion is no where more strongly inculcated.

Sir William Jones in an oration intended to have been spoken in Oxford, July 9, 1773, says:

There is no branch of literature, there is no liberal art, no sublime or useful science which may not here be learned to perfection. All nature lies open to our inspection. The surprising fabric of this visible world has been explained to us, not by conjectures or opinions, but by demonstration ; the works of poets, critics, rhetoricians, historians, philosophers, the accumulated wisdom of all nations and all ages, are here made accessible and familiar to the students of every class, in whose minds they are preserved as in a curious repository, whence they may at any time be extracted for the honor and benefit of the human species.

Dr. Lowth, in vindicating himself from the implied aspersion of Bishop Warburton in contrasting his own self-education with his (Dr. L's) opportunities of academical culture, confesses :—that

He had been educated in the University of Oxford ; he had enjoyed all the advantages, both public and private, which that famous seat of learning so largely affords; that he had spent many years in that illustrious society, in a well regulated course of discipline and studies, and in the agreeable and improving commerce of gentlemen and scholars; in a society where emulation without envy, ambition without jealousy, contention without animosity, incited industry and awakened genius; where a liberal pursuit of knowledge, and a genuine freedom of thought was raised, encouraged, and pushed forward, by example, by commendation, and by authority ; that he had breathed there the same atmosphere which the Hookers, the Chillingworths, and the Lockes had breathed before.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Mrs. Evelyn, the daughter of Sir Richard Browne, and wife of William Evelyn, the central figure in this sketch of English Home Life in the 17th Century, was not called to the performance of deeds of heroism, nor was she distinguished for her learning or shining lalents. She possessed an amiable disposition, good sense, and a cultivated understanding, united with a sincere and siinple pietyqualities which made her the best daughter and wife, the most tender mother, a desirable neighbor and friend in all parts of her life. She was born at the English Embassy at Paris, in 1635.

Her childhood passed happily in the brightest capital in Europe, where her father, Sir Richard Browne, resided as English Ambassador; and to it she always looked back with grateful attachment. Here she was tended with all the care a gentle fate could assign to the only child of good, tender, and pious parents, and here it was that she was early seen and admired by the excellent and accomplished Mr. Evelyn; himself described as one of the best and most dignified specimens of the old English country gentleman.' Unshaken in his fidelity to a falling cause, when that cause became again triumphant he never condescended to bow the knee to wickedness in high places. Indeed, it may be presumed that his loyalty must at last have partaken pretty much of the character of Horace Walpole's patriotism, who, when the patriots of his day were boring the dilettante statesman with, “Sure, Mr. Walpole, you love your country! replied, 'that he believed he should love his country very well, if it were not for his countrymen.' So it may be suspected that Evelyn would have supported the Royal cause with still more ardor than he did, had it not been for some royalists.

Although he trailed a pike at Gennep, and joined the King's army at Brentford, yet on the day on which was fought the signal battle of Edge Hill,' after having seen Portsmouth delivered up to Sir

* Abridged from 'The English Home Life of English Ladies in the 17th Century." By the author of Magdalen Stafford.' London: Bell & Daldy.

24

(369)

« AnteriorContinua »