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Education in Jamaica.-Mental precocity of the
Creoles.-Thoughts on the establishment of proper seminaries.-Literature, and literary amusement. Cause of its small estimation in Jamaica.
ONE of the most lamentable wants in Jamaica is that of proper seminaries for the instruction of youth. This evil is the fruitful source of many others. Were the West Indians, who are edu
cated at home, to be brought up under such able i teachers as we can boast of in Great Britain, to
whose authority they should equally be delivered over, as is customary there, the young Creole, who receives a British education, would not have so much cause of triumph over his less fortunate countrymen in the superiority of his mental atLainments. But the misfortune is, the teachers in general here are little better than half-educated adventurers, caught fortuitously up in the coun. try, who are little solicitous about the improvement of their pupils, and still less about their morals; whose chief solicitude is in temporizing, from selfish and interested motives, with the parents of the children, and who, knowing their situation to be precarious, and reputed despica, ble, have neither the talents, the courage, nor the inclination to command respect; fearful they inight only provoke opposition and dislike.
It is remarked of the children of the West Indies, that they exhibit earlier proofs of premature genius than the children who are born in colder climes. This remark may be partly true; and the philosopher, perhaps, would be for assigning it to some physical cause or other. He would be for ascribing this phenomenon to the maturįng influence of the climate : he would probably say, that, like its native fruits, genius soon ripens here; or, like the charms of the person, which rapidly expand, bloom forth in beauty, but are doomed to an earlier decay than the loveļiness of the temperate zone. Without advancing any of these fanciful opinions, it will be sufficient to remark, that if it be true, that the inborn ge; nius of the West Indian expands at an earlier age than that of the European, it does not often follow that it matures with the same facility to intellectual perfection. Few have given proofs to the world of literary eminence; and those few have owed that eminence to the classical influence of a British seminary. The truth is, that most of the children here are vivacious, lively, and shrewd ; but this does not always turn out to be the early indication of genius : on the contrary, as in other countries, the poorer classes of uneducated people here are deplorably simple and
ignorant. The West Indian may, by the culture of education, become as deservedly eminent in his particular walk of life as the native of any other country; but it seldom happens, that he has, the patience to endure the toils of intense study, or to climb up the steep ascent of scientific pursuit. He is too lively, too volatile, too indolent, and too fond of pleasure for such application : this is perhaps one great cause of literary pursuits being in such small estimation in the West Indies, and of the very small numbers of its natiyes who have favoured the world with the fruits of their studies and their researches.
As the means of education in this island are so notoriously inefficient, the most speedy means should be adopted to remedy the evil. Much to their honour, the inhabitants of one of the parishes (St. James's) appear to have taken the lead in so wise and so liberal an undertaking. They have applied to the assembly (who, by the bye, has itself now taken the subject seriously to heart) for the establishment of a proper seminary, where every branch of liberal education may be taught. Some years ago the author offered some hints on this subject, Among other things, he suggested, that three large schools (one for each of the three counties) should be established after the model of our most respectable grammar-schools in England; that the masters should be men of regular classical educa
tion, recommended from our Universities; that their situations should be made desirable, by liberal stipends, and by attaching to thein a greater degree of estimațion than heretofore ;-that is to say, the head master should be considered as an equally respectable character with the rectors of the parishes, and admissible into the genteelest circles of society. He should chuse and provide his own ushers; he should have a preference in the appointment to vacant rectories, which would be the more agreeable to the inhabitants, as he would be a man with whom they were in previous habits of intimacy, and whom they probably esteemed for his virtues, his talents, and assiduous attention to the education of their youth. He should, if possible, be a married man. The senior ushers should have a preference to the appointment of head master, in case of the demise or resignation of one, provided he be chosen by the governors of the institution as one fit and qualified to fill the situation ; if not, the election then to fall on the next senior usher, who might be deemed thus qualified; by which means able and respectable young men might be induced to act in that capacity. The governors might consist of the leading and respectable men of each parish, chosen by their felļow. parishioners, who should have the enacting of public regulations for the schools, which should not be suffered to be violated by the whim, partiality, or caprice of any
parent whatever. The boys, whose homes were at a distance, could be provided with the necessary accommodations on the spot. The school: house should be built at the expence of the county to which it belonged, and should be a spacious and elegant structure.
What desirable purposes such an establishment would produce! what a strong additional encouragement to matrimony, and, of course, to population. We should not then have to witness the most deplorable ignorance in the poorer classes of the natives, whose parents, ignorant themselves of the blessings and advantages of education, have neglected it in their children. The fond parent, who could afford to his offspring a liberal education, would seldom then have to part, with agonized feelings, from his beloved child, by sending him to a distant country for this purpose, without the prospect of again beholding him for a long term of years : he would have an opportunity of marking on the spot his progress in intellectual acquirements, of perceiving the “young ideas shoot forth," and the buds of infant genius gradually expand. It would be a mean, also, of remedying a most crying grievance under which this country seriously suffers ; it would transfer the affections and attachments of the great proprietors from Great Britain, where they have been educated, to their native soil, where they ought properly to be fixed. At pre