Page images

with the ails of long-sighted experience;led without difficulty; and this very circumto enable them to discover spots in the stance serves afterwards to furnish not only brightness of that world which dazzles them literary pleasures, but meral advantages. in prospect, though it is probable they will For the knowledge which is acquired by uniafter all choose to believe their own eyes, wearied assiduity, is lasting in the possession, rather than the offered glass,

and sweet to the possessor; both perhaps in I proportion to the cost and labour of the acquisition. And though an able teacher ought

to endeavour, by improving the communiCHAP VIII.

cating faculty in himself (for many know On female study, and initiation into know

what they cannot teach) to soften every difledge.-Error of cultivating the imagi- llit

ficulty ; yet in spite of the kindness and abi

ng the image-lity with which he will smooth every obnation to the neglect of the judgment,

struction, it is probably along the wise inBooks of reasoning recommended.

stitutions of Providence that great difficulAs this little work by no means assumes ties should still remain. For education is but the character of a general scheme of educa-lan initiation into that life of trial to which we tion, the author has purposely avoided expa- are introduced on our entrance into this tiating largely on any kind of instruction, world. It is the first breaking into that but as it happens to be connected, cither state of toil and labour to which we are born, immediately or remotely with objects of a and to which sin has made us liable; and in moral or religious nature. Of course she this view of the subject the pains taken in has been so far from thinking it necessary to the acquisition of learning may be convertenter into the enumeration of those popular ecl to higher uses than such as are purely books which are used in general instruction, literary. that she has purposely forborn to mention Will it not be ascribed to a captious singuany. With such books the rising generation larity, if I venture to remark that real knowis far more copiously and ably furnished ledge and real piety, though they may have than any that has preceded it ; and out of gained in many instances, bave sufferet i an excellent variety the judicious instructor others from that profusion of little, ainsing, can hardly fail to make such a selection as sentimental books with which the youthful shall be beneficial to the pupil.

library overflows? Abundance has its danBut while due praise ought not to be with-gers as well as scarcity. In the first place held from the improved methods of commu- may not the multiplicity of these alluring picating the elements of general knowledge; little works increase the natural reluctance yet is there not some danger that our very to those more dry and uninteresting studies advantages may lead us into error, by cau- of which, after all, the rudiments of every sing us to repose so confidently on the multi-l part of learning must consist? And seconda plied helps which facilitate the entrance into iy, is there not some danger (though there learning, as to render our pupils superficial are many honourable exceptions) that some through the very facility of acquirement: of those engaging narratives may serve to Wliere so much is done for them, may they infuse into the youthful heart a sort of sporto not be led to do too little for themselves ? lous goodness, a confidence of virtue, a pa and besides that exertion may slacken for rade of charity? And that the benevolent ac want of a spur, may there not be a moral |tions with the recital of which they abount disadvantage in possessing young persons when they are not made to flow from any with the notion that learning may be ac-source but feeling, may tend to inspire a quired without diligence, and knowledge be self-complacency, a self-gratulation, attained without labour ? Sound education stand by, for I am holier than thou ! May never can be made a 'primrose path of dal- | not the success with which the good deeds liance.' Do what we will we cannot cheat of the little heroes are uniformly crowned i children into Icarning, or play them into the invariable reward wiiich is made ! knowledge, according to the conciliating instant concomitant of well drins, furnish smoothness of the modern creed, and the the young reader with false views of the selfish indolence of the modern habits..condition of life, and the nature of the divine There is no idle way to any acquisitions dealings with men? May they not help which really deserve the name. And as suggest a false standard of morals, to infuse Euclid, in order to repress the impetuous a love of popularity and an anxiety vanity of greatness, told his sovereign that praise, in the place of that simple and unthere was no royal way to geometry, so the ostentatious rule of doing whatever gond we fond mother may be assured that there is no do, because it is the will of God? The ull. short cut to any other kind of learning ; no versal substitution of this principle would privileged by-path cleared from the thorns tend to purify the worldly morality of many and briers of repulse and difficulty, for the a popular little story. And there are few accommodation of opulent inactivity or femi-dangers which good parents will more care nine weakness. The tree of knowledge, as fully guard against than that of giving their a punishment, perhaps, for its having been children a mere political piety ; that sort at first unfairly tasted, cannot now be claim- rcligion which just goes to make people

more respectable, and to stand well with some tincture of real local information is acthe world ; a religion which is to save ap- quired by the perusal of the wildest fable, pearances without inculcating realities; a which will not be without its use in aiding religion which affects to preach peace and the future associations of the mind in all that good will to men.' but which forgets to give relates to eastern history and literature. glory to God in the highest. **

The irregular fancy of women is not suffiThere is a certain precocity of mind which ciently subdued by early application, nor is much helped on by these superficial modestamed by labour, and the kind of knowledge of instruction ; for frivolous reading will they commonly do acquire is early attained; produce its correspondent effect, in much and being chiefly some slight acquisition of

less time than boks of solid instruction; the memory, something which is given them • the imagination being liable to be worked to get off by themselves, and not grounded

upon, and the feelings to be set a-going, in their minds by comment and conversation, much faster than the understanding can be it is easy lost. The superficial question-andopened and the judgment enlightened. A answer-way, for instance, in which they talent for conversation should be the result often learn history, furnishes the mind with of instruction, noi its precursor; it is a little to lean on : the events being detached golden fruit when suffered to ripen gradual- and separated, the actions having no links ly on the tree of knowledge ; but if forced in to unite them with each other; the characthe hot-bed of a circulating library, it will ters not being interwoven by mutual relaurn out worthless and vapid in proportion tion; the chronology being reduced to disas it was artificial and premature, Girls connected dates, instead of presenting an who have been accustomed to clevour a mul- unbroken series; of course, neither events, titude of frivolous books will converse and actions, characters, nor chronology, fasten write with a far greater appearance of skill themselves on the understanding, but rather as to style and sentiment at twelve or four- float in the memory as so many detached teen years old, than those of a more ad- episodes, than contribute to form the mind vanced age, who are under the discipline of and to enrich the judgment of the reader, severer studies: but the former having early in the important science of men and manattained to that low standard which had ners. been held out to them, become stationary ; The swarms of Abridgments, Beauties, while the latter, quietly progressive, are and Compendiums, which form too considepassing through just gradations to a bigler rable a part of a young lady's library, may strain of mind; and those who early begin be considered in many instances as an infulwith talking and writing like women, com- iible receipt for making a superficial mind. monly end with thinking and acting like The names of the renowned characters in

history thus become familiar in the mouths I would not however prohibit such works of those who can neither attach to the ideas of imagination as suit this early period. of the person, the series of his actions, nor When inoderately used they serve to stretch the peculiarities of his character. A few the faculties and expand the mind : but I fine passages from the poets (passages pershould prefer works of vigorous genius and haps which derived their chief beauty from pure unmixed fable to many of those tame their position and connexion) are huddled. and more affected moral stories, which are together by some extract-maker, whose not grounded on Christian principle. I brief and disconnected patches of broken should suggest the use on the one hand of and discordant materials, while they inflame original and acknowledged fictions : and on young readers with the vanity of reciting, the other, of accurate and simple facts; so neither fill the mind nor form the taste, and that truth and fable may ever be kept sepa- it is not difficult to trace back to their shalrate and distinct in the mind. There is low sources the hackneyed quotations of something that kindles fancy, awakens ge- certain accomplished young ladies, who will nius and excites new ideas in many of the be frequently found not to have come legitibold fictions of the east. And there is one mately by any thing they know, I meal not peculiar merit in the Arabian and some to have drawn it from its true spring, the other Oriental tales, which is, that they ex-original works of the author from which hibit striking, and in many respects faithful some beauty-monger has severed it. Huviews of the manners, habits, customs, and man inconsistency in this, as in other cases, religion of their respective countries ; so that wants to combinetwoirreconcileable things;

it strives to unite the reputation of know• An ingenious (and in many respects usefull French ledge with the pleasures of knowledge, furTreatise on Education, has 100 much encouraged this getting that nothing that is valuable can be political picty, by considering religion as a thing of obtained without sacrifices, and that if we hunan invention, rather than of divine institution; as a would purchase knowledge, we must pay thing creditable, rather than commanded: by erecting for it the fair and lawful price of time and the doctrine of expediency in the room of Christian industry. For this extract-rcading, while simplicity; and wearing away the spirit of truth, by the it accommodates itself to the convenience, substitution of occasional deceit, equivocativn, subter-illustrates the character of the age in which fuge and mental reservation.

Twe live. The appetite for pleasure, and


that love of ease and indolence which is ge-, which is already of too soft a texture, and nerated by it, leave little time or taste for should strengthen its feeble cone by invigosound improvement; while the vanity, which rating reading. is cqually a characteristic of the existing By softness, I cannot be supposed to mean period, puts in its claim also for indulgence, imbecility of understanding, but natural and contrives to figure away by these little softness of heart, and pliancy of temper, tosnatches of ornamental reading, caught in gether with that indolence of spirit which is the short intervals of successive amuse- fostered by indulging in seducing books, and inents.

in the general habits of fashionable life. Besides, the taste, thus pampered with I mean not here to recommend books delicious morsels, is early vitiated. The which are immediately religious, but such as young reader of these clustered beauties exercise the reasoning faculties, teach the conceives a disrelish for every thing which mind to get acquainted with its own nature, is plain, and grows impatient, if obliged to and to stir up its own powers. Let not a get through those equally necessary though timid young lady start if I should venture to less showy parts of a work, in which per- recommend to her, after a proper course of haps the author gives the best proof of his preparatory reading, to swallow and digest judginent by keeping under that occasional such strong meat as Watts's or Duncan's brilliancy and incidental ornament, of which little book of Logic, some part of Mr. these superficial students are in constant Locke's Essay on the Human Understandpursuit. . In all well-written books, there is ing, and bishop Butler's Analogy. Where much that is good which is not dazzling ; there is leisure, and capacity, and an able

and these shallow critics should be taught, friend to comment and to counsel, works of · that it is for the embellishment of the more this nature might be profitably substituted

tame and uninteresting parts of his work, in the place of so much English sentiment, that the judicious poet commonly reserves French philosophy, Italiau love-songs, and those flowers, whose beauty is defaced when fantastic German imagery and magic wonthey are plucked from the garland into ders. - While such enervating or absurd which he had so skiltully woven them. books sadly disqualify the reader for solid

The remark, however, as far as it relates pursuit or vigorous thinking, the studies to abridgments, is by no means of general here recommended would act upon the application ; there are many valuable works constitution of the mind as a kind of alterawhich from their bulk would be almost in- tive, and, if I may be allowed the expres accessible to a great number of readers, and sion, would help to brace the intellectual a considerable part of which may not be stamina. generally useful. Even in the best written This suggestion, is, however, by no means books there is often superfluous matter; au- intended to exclude works of taste and imathors are apt to get enamoured of their sub- gination, which must always make the ornaject, and to dwell too long on it : every per- mental part, and of course a very considerason cannot find time to read a longer work ble part, of feinale studies. It is only intion any subject, and yet it may be well for mated, that they should not form them enthem to know something on almost every tirely and exclusively. For what is called, subject; those, therefore, who abridge vo-dry, tough reading, independent of the luminous works judiciously, render service knowledge it conveys, is useful as an habit, to the community. But there seems, if I and wholesome as an exercise. Serious stumay venture the remark, to be a mistake in dy serves to harden the mind for more trythe use of abridgments. They are put sys-ing conflicts; it lifts the reader from sensatematically into the hands of youth, who tion to intellect; it abstracts her from the have, or ought to have, leisure for the works world and its vanities; it fixes a wandering at large; while abridgments seem more spirit, and fortifies a weak one; it divorces immediately calculated for persons in more her from matter; it corrects the spirit of triadvanced life, who wish to recall something fing which she naturally contracts from the they had forgotten; who want to restore old frivolous turn of female conversation and the ideas rather than acquire new ones; or they petty nature of female employments; it conare useful for persons immersed in the busi-centrates her attention, assists her in a habit ness of the world; who have little leisure of excluding trivial thoughts, and thus even for voluminous reading: they are excellent helps to qualify her for religious pursuits. to refresh the mind, but not competent to Yes, I repeat it, there is to woman a Chrisform it ; they serve to bring back what had tian use to be made of sober studies; while been formerly known, but do not supply a books of an opposite cast, however unexcepfund of knowledge.

tionable they may be sometimes found in Perhaps there is some analogy between point of expression, however free from evil the mental and bodily conformation of wo- in its more gross and palpable shapes, yet men. The instructor therefore should imi- from their very nature and constitution they tate the physician. If the latter prescribe excite a spirit of relaxation, by exhibiting bracing medicines for a body of which deli- scenes and suggesting ideas which soften the cacy is the disease, the former would do well mind and set the fancy at work; they take to prohibit relaxing reading for a mind off wholesome restraints, diminish sober

mindedness, impair the general powers of throw the generality of readers at such an resistance, and at best feed habits of impro- unapproachable distance as to check preper indulgence, and nourish a vain and visumption, instead of exciting it. Who are sionary indolence, which lays the mind open those ever multiplying authors, that with unto error and the heart to seduction. I paralleled fecundity are orerstocking the

Women are little accustomed to close rea- world with their quick succeeding progeny? soning on any subject; still less do they inure They are NOVEL-WRITERS; the easiness of their minds to consider particular parts of a whose productions is at once the cause of subject; they are not habicuated to turn a their own fruitfulness, and of the almost intruth round, and view it in all its varied as-finitely numerous race of imitators to whom pects and positions, and this perhaps is one they give birth. Such is the frightful facility cause (as will be observed in another place*) of this species of composition, that every of the too great confidence they are disposed raw girl, while she reads, is tempted to fanto place in their own opinions. Though cy that she can also write. And as Alexantheir imagination is already too lively, and der, on perusing the Iliad, found by congetheir judgment naturally incorrect; in edu- nial sympathy the image of Achilles stampcating them we go on to stimulate the ima-ed on his own ardent soul, and felt himself gination, while we neglect the regulation of the hero he was studying ; and as Corregio, the judgment. They already want ballast, on first beholding a picture which exhibited and we make their education consist in con- the perfection of the graphic art, prophetitinually crowding more sail than they can cally felt all his own future greatness, and carry.' Their intellectual powers being so cried out in rapture, 'And I too am a painlittle strengthened by exercise, makes eve-ter!' so a thorough-paced novel-reading l'y petty business appear a hardship to miss, at the close of every tissue of hackthem : whereas serious study would be use- neyed adventures, feels within herself the ful, were it only that it leads the mind to the stirring impulse of corresponding genius, habit of conquering difficulties. But it is pe- and triumphantly exclaims, •And I too am culiarly hard to turn at once from the indo- an author!' The glutted imagination soon lent repose of light reading, froin the con- overflows with the redundance of cheap sencerns of mere animal life, the objects of timent and plentiful incident, and by a sort sense, or the frivolousness of female chit of arithmetical proportion, is enabled by the chat; it is peculiarly hard, I say, to a mind perusal of any three novels, to produce a so softened, to rescue itself from the domi-fourth ; till every fresh production, like the nion of self indulgence, tu resume its powers, prolific progeny of Banquo, is followed by to call home its scattered strength, to shut

Another, and another, and another ! out every foreign intrusion, to force back a spring so unpaturally bent, and to devote it. Is a lady, however destitute of talents, eduself to religious reading, to active business, cation, or knowledge of the world, whose to sober reflection, to self-examination. / studies have been completed by a circulaWhereas to an intellect accustomed to think ting library, in any distress of mind ? the at all, the difficulty of thinking seriously is writing a novel suggests itself as the best obviously lessened.

soother of her sorrows! Does she labour unFar bé it from me to desire to make scho- der any depression of circumstances? wrilastic ladies or female dialecticians; butting a novel occurs, as the readiest receipt there is little fear that the kind of books for mending them! And she solaces her here recommended, if thoroughly studied, imagination with the conviction that the suband not superficially skinmed, will make scription which has been extorted by her them pedants or induce conceit; for by show- importunity, or given to her necessities, has ing them the possible powers of the human been offered as an homage to her genius, mind, you will bring there to see the little- And this confidence instantly levies a fresh ness of their own; and surely to get ac- contribution for a succeeding work. Capaquainted with the mind, to regulate, to in- city and cultivation are so little taken into form it; to show it its own ignorance and its the account, that writing a book seems to be own nature, does not seem the way to puff now considered as the only sure resource it up. But let her who is disposed to be which the idle and the illiterate have alelated with her literary acquisitions, check ways in their power. the rising vanity by calling to mind the just May the author be indulged in a short direnlark of Swift, that after all her boasted gression while she remarks, though rather acquirements, a woman will, generally out of its place, that the corruption occaspeaking, be found to possess less of what sioned by these books has spread so wide, is called learning than a common school- and descended so low, as to have become boy.'

one of the most universal, as well as most Neither is there any fear that this sort of pernicious sources of corruption among us, reading will convert ladies into authors. Not only among milliners, mantua-makers, The direct contrary effect will be likely to and other trades where numbers work tobe produced by the perusal of writers who gether, the labour of one girl is frequently

sacrificed, that she may be spared to read * See chapter on Conversation.

those mischievous books to the others; but Vol. I.

/ the

[ocr errors]

she has been assurer bv clergymen whola lesson of religion. In the study of history, hare witnessed the fact, that they are pro- the instructor will accustom the pupil not cured and greedily read in the wards of our merely to store her memory with facts and hospitals! an awful hint, that those who teach anecdotes, and to ascertain dates and the poor to read, should not only tike care epochs : but she will üccustom her also to to furnish them with principles which will trace effects to their causes, to examine the lead them to abhor corrupt books, but that secret springs of action, and accurately to they should also furnish them with such observe the operations of the passions. It books as shall strengthen and confirm their is only meant to notice here some few of the principles. * And let every Christian re- moral benefits which may be derived from a member, that there is no other way enter- judicious perasal of history; and from among ing truly into the spirit of that divine prayer, other points of instruction, I select the folwhich petitions that the name of God may ! lowing :* be ‘hallowed,' that his kingdom (of grace) The study of history may serve to give may come,' and that his will may be done a clearer insight into the corruption of huon earth as it is in heaven,' that by each in- man nature : dividual contributing according to his mea- It may help to show the plan of Provisure to accomplish the work for which he dence in the direction of events, and in the prays; for to pray that these great objects use of unworthy instruments: may be promoted, without contributing to It may assist in the vindication of Provitheir promotion by our exertions, our mo- dence, in the common failure of virtue, and ney, and our influence, is a palpable incon- the frequent success of vice : sistency.

It may lead to a distrust of our own judgment: 1 It may contribute to our improvement in

self-knowledge, CHAP. IX.

But to prove' to the pupil the important

doctrine of human corruption from the stuOn the religious and moral use of history dy of history, will require a truly Christian and geography.

commentator in the trend with whom the

work is perused. For, from the low stanWule every sort of useful knowledge dard of right established by the generality should be carefully imparted to young per- of historians, who erect so many persons insons, it should be imparted not merely for to good characters who fall short of the true its own sake, but also for the sake of its idea of Christian virtue, the unassisted reasubserviency to higher things. All human der will be liable to form very imperfect learning should be taught, not as an end, but views of what is real goodness; and will a means; and in this view even a lesson of conclude, as his author sometimes does, that history or geography may be converted into the true idea of human natare is to be taken

from the medium between his best and his • The above facts furnisb no argument on the side of worst characters; without acquiring a just those who would keep the poor in ignorance. Those notion of that prevalence of evil; which, in who cannot read can hear, and are likely to hear to worse spite of those few brighter luminaries that purpose than those who bave been better raught. And here and there just serve to gild the gloom that ignorance furnishes no security for integrity either of history, tends abundantly to establish the in morals or politics, the late revolis in more than one doctrine. It will indeed be continually escountry, remarkable for the ignorance of the poor fully tablishing itself by those who, in perusing illustrate. It is earnestly hoped that the above facts may the history of mankind, carefully mark the tend to impress ladies with the importance of superin- rise and progress of sin, from the first timid tending the instruction of the poor, and of making it an irruption of an evil thought, to the fearless indispensable part of their charity to give ilem moral and religious books.

• It were to be wished that more historians resembled The late celebrated Henry Fielding (a man not likels the excellent Rollin in the religious and moral tora to be suspected of over-strictness) assured a particular given to his writings of tbis kind.-But here may I be friend of the author, that during his long administration permited to observe incidentally (for it is not immediof justice in Bow-street, only six Scotchmen were ately analogous to my subject) that there is one disa brought before him. The remark did not proceed from vantage which attends the common practice of serving any national partiality in the magistrate, but was pro- young ladies to read ancient history and geography in duced by him in proof of the effect of a sober end religi. French or Italian, who have not been preriously well ous education among the lower ranks, on their morals grounded in the pronunciation of classical names of and conduct.

persons and places in our own language. The foreign See farther the sentiments of a still more celebrated termination of Greek and Roman names are often very cotemporary on the duty of instructing the poor.- different from tbe English, and where they are first se • We bave been taught that the circumstance of the quired are frequently retained and adopted in their Gospel's being preached to the poor was one of the stead, so as to give an illiterate appearance to the cols surest lesis of its mission. We think, therefore, tua versation of some women who are not really ignorant. those do not believe it who do not take care it should And this defective pronunciation is the more to be be preached to the poor.'

guarded against in the education of ladies who are not Burke on the French Revolution, taught quantity as boys are.

« PreviousContinue »