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Let then the propriety of devoting our youth to the pursuit of classical studies be estimated, not by the utility of being able to construe Latin and Greek, or to compose with elegance in those languages, but by the tendency of such studies to assist the growth of the understanding, and to form a correct taste; and by their consequent tendency to make men wiser, happier, and better. Let this estimate be fairly made, and they who agree with us, in thinking the improvement of the intellectual powers, and of the disposition, much more important than the accumulation of knowledge, will think the utility of these studies suffi. ciently established. The same principle will enable us to avoid another error of those writers, who imagined the acquisition of knowledge to be the inost important object of education. Persons of this class are ever advising, that children should be cheated into knowledge ; telling parents that, otherwise, half the time of both teacher and pupil must be spent in subduing the wishes and inclinations of the latter. Nor are we so oldfashioned as to believe, that the time thus spent is so far from being wasted, as to be productive of results much more impor, tant than learning. He who has not been taught to subdue bis will in early life, and to resign inclination to duty, is not very likely to learn to do these things when bis passions have gained their full strength, and the controul of authority is removed. The spoiled child will always become the wilful man. It has been observed with regret, that men of the highest classical attaiuments have, in more than one instance, totally proved deficient in conduct. Let it not be imagined that this concession does away what has been said in favor of classical studies, The iruth' is, that these persons have been such as, being endowed by nature with an excessive fondness for such pursuits, have followed them with avidity from the first moment that their faculties began to develope themselves, and having never needed compulsion, have never learnt submission, have never been taught to subjugate their own caprices. It is not only amongst the ignorant that spoiled children are to be found. They, who would have children " cozeved into knowledge,” may certainly claim the authority of Locke in their favor. In his “ Thoughts on Education," he has said all that can be urged in favor of royal or pleasant roads to learning; and his name was had great influence with tender mammas, who, wiser than Solomon, would never have the rod brought in sight. In the same work, he has wecon mended teaching the learned languages without grammar, observing " That if grammar ought to be taught at any time, it must be to one that can speak the language already *;" and has advised, as a course of natural philosophy, • Thoughts on Education, 168. 3.
to read the conclusions of the several propositions contained in Newton's Principia, " which conclusions,” he says, “ may be depended on as propositions well proved *.” By such methods the learned languages might be studied, without improving the taste; and mathematical conclusions hoarded in the memory, without any risk of strengthening the reasoning powers. Such absurdities are quite unworthy of Locke, aud, after reading them, we have no scruple in opposing to his authority the very sensible language of Madame de Stael.
« L'éducation faite en s'amusant,” says she, “ disperse la pensée ; la peine en tout genre est une des grands secrets de la nature; P'esprit de l'enfant doit s'accoutumer aux efforts de l'étude, comme notre ame à la souffrance. Le perfectionnement du premier âge tient au travail, comme le perfectionnement du second à la doulear: il est à souhaiter sans donte que les parents et la destinée n'abusent pas trop de ce double secret; mais il n'y a d'important à toutes les époques de la vie que ce qui agit sur le centre même de Pexistence, et l'on considère trop souvent l'être moral en détail. Vous enseignerez avec des tableaux, avec des cartes, une quantité de choses à votre enfant, mais vous ne lui apprendrez pas à apprendre ; et l'habitude de s'amuser, que vous dirigez sur les sciences, suivra bientôt un autre cours quand l'enfant ne sera plus dans votre dépendance t."
To give to the reasoning powers their full and perfect tone, che severer mathematical studies ought, as soon as the mind has acquired sufficient strength to be added to those more elegant pursuits which have hitherto engaged our attention. And now ibe enquiries after utility, will be ready to offer themselves as allies, and to support our recommendations. But we do not feel much inclination to accept their aid; as we are not quite convinced that a knowledge of the properties of the Conchoid of Nicomedes is likely to be more serviceable to its possessor, for the purposes of common life, than that of the distinction between hypercatalectic trimeters and brachycatalectic tetrameters. We rest our earnest recommendation of mathematical studies, much more on our firm conviction of their powerful tendency to strengthen and augment the reasoning powers, than on our opinion of the value of the knowledge they bestow, though we are by no means inclined to under-value that Knowledge. Attention, caution, and an accurate perception of the extent to which any argument may be admitted, are the faculties which, according as they are found in any person in a
Thoughts on Education, g 194, + L'Allemagne, tom i. p. 167.
* comprehended" and "understood” are employed to designate very different things. In fact we suspect that this writer's idea of understanding Newton must be taken from an anecdote which he may have heard from some imprudent eulogist, of a person once high in the University of Oxford, who was said to make a point of annually perusing the Principia, with a faithful Achates at his side. If this story be correct, the learned Gentleman must, before he retired, have been able to construe the peculiar Latinity of that profound work with a facility which precluded all reflection; whilst " the intellect” of bis companion may have been made not patient only, but passive.” They who have really read Newton to any purpose, know that he who wishes fully to comprehend the recondite truths sometimes merely hinted at, and at other times partially developed in the Principia, may find sufficient employment for a long and laborious life.
He who ventures to assert that the study of the mathematics has nothing to do with making men good reasoners, must allow it to be a very singular fact, that if we name the divines who have of late most distinguished themselves by powerful argument and acute reasoning, we shall find that our catalogue is filled with mathematicians. Paley, Magee, Horsley, Tomline, Marsh, and Watson, are all of them men, not slightly iinbued, but covered with mathematical honours. That the study of Geometry does not pecessarily strip a man of all eloquence, and fasten him down to a jejune detail of matter of fact or of calculations, is evident from the example of Plato, the lover of mathematics and the most eloquent of philosophers. As the writer with whom we are now contending, is a scholar, he will bow to the authority of the Grecian sage. Προς πάσας μαθήσεις, ώστε κάλλιον αποδέχεσθαι, ίσμέν πε ότι το όλο και παντί διοίσει ημμένος τε γεωμετρίας και μη. Τα παντί μέντοι νή Δί, έφη. Δεύτερον δή στο τιθώμεν μάθημα τους νέους. .
On the solid foundation which has already been recommended, we may, if our materials are tolerable and these materials must have improved in our hands, build any superstructure of professional knowledge which may be desired. To those who ask whether education ought then, in our opinion, to be confined to Latin, Greek, and the mathematics? We anstrer, that we have all along assumed that religious instruction should be communicated as soon as it can be received. We would also allow the French language to form a part of the earliest studies of a gentleman. Our wars, our rivalry, and our intercourse, during peace, whether political or literary, make a knowledge of this language almost indispensable; and as a facility in speak. ing any language depends, rather on our having an habitual than
a properly +
a properly scientific acquaintance with it, that acquaintance ought to commence in early life.
Something of history, and of the common topics of the day, an intelligent youth, with an ordinary share of curiosity, will make himself master of; and we had almost said, horror-struck as Mr. Edgeworth would be, the less the better. Where ignorance on all extraneous subjects did not proceed, from that thorough indolence which nothing but compulsion can drive to labour, or from that apathy and total incuriosity which destroys all intellectual improvement, but solely from a close and iusulated attention to the proper and proposed objects of study, this ignorance would be far from giving us pain. We should feel convinced, that he who could so completely concentrate and limit his views 10 the object before him, and has iinproved his faculties by the plan of education which we have been tracing out, will soon out-strip the showy sciolist, in any branch of study which he may wish to acquire. But the accomplished youth, of the present day, is conducted, by a fashionable tutor, through a circle of sciences inore extensive than the great object of his imitation, the admirable Crichton, ever heard of. He must at least be acquainted with political economy, geology, mineralogy, botany, and chemistry. Now, if we are to consider these sciences as parts of a System of Education, there is pot one of them, the tendency of which we do not consider as positively injurious. Whatever progress may, in the course of jime, be made in the two first sciences on the list, it cannot be denied that the leading principles, on which the political economist or the geologist proceeds, have, as yet, much about them that is vague and indefiuile. The student has no fixed criterion, by which he can try the truth of what he reads. He must trust much to the assertions of his author; and, as every new writer is principally employed in pointing out the mistakes of his predecessors, a young reader is in a fair way either to contract a presumptuous dogmatical tone, or to luse, in the maze of uncertainty, all power of arranging his ideas.
Botany, as it is commonly learnt, without any attention to the physiology of plants, and mineralogy, without chemistry, are unworthy the name of sciences; they become mere systems of nomenclature. And in the study of chemistry, the progress of the understauding is the very reverse of wbat would tend to the exaltation and enlargement of the mind. The merit of the chemist is measured by the perseverance with which he can pursue the mipute, in preference to the obvious and gross results of his experiments through all the indefinite ramifications of littleness, He must neglect the awful grandeur of the mountain, to pore over the corruption of the puddle at its base. Longinus has