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any one people on the face of the earth can arise from this training, for no facts are furnished which can settle the question, whether the map from which the pupil learns is at all the better for being a real representation of the earth, or whether it would not do equally well if the teacher contrived an atlas for his own school, and filled it with names at pleasure. A similar practice prevails in communicating physical, and particularly astronomical knowledge. The habit of teaching by catechisms, or by causing the pupils to say lessons,' has degraded this truly noble branch of education into a mass of words, and words only. Nay, even those parts, to which nothing could be objected, if they were intended for adults, lose their effect from containing words and phrases above the capacity of children. It may be asked, how such a state of things exists, when the wish for improvement has become so general, and attempts have been made for this purpose, sufficient, it might be thought, to constitute a fair trial of its practicability? The answer appears to us to be, that there is not a sufficient number of well-informed teachers to effect any extensive change. Indeed, it is among the instructors that improvement must begin, and this is the greatest difficulty which is to be encountered. The pupils themselves are manageable, and, as has been proved in many instances, take delight in whatever really and sensibly increases their stock of knowledge. Nor is it in want of actual information, that the deficiency lies, but in a prejudice against all systems, of which learning out of a book is not the essential part. As far as instructors are concerned, the department of education to which this article is devoted has suffered much, in common with the mathematics, from the practice which prevails among the heads of schools, of transferring all duties of instruction to subordinate ushers or masters, except those which concern the Latin and Greek languages. We have here a remnant of the system which prevailed some years ago, of teaching nothing except classical literature. When it was at last thought desirable to introduce something more into the routine of education, the new study was rarely pursued under the personal superintendence of the head of the school, and was therefore regarded by the pupils with indifference, if not with contempt. In some of our public schools, for example, the mathematics are yet on the same footing as the exercises of fencing or dancing, since, though tolerated and connived at, they are not the road to any distinction; and it is at the option of the pupil, or his friends, whether they shall form any part of the pursuits of the former, or not. We are not aware, that in
any one, is even this little degree of encouragement afforded to the study of natural philosophy; at any rate, the great majority of our endowed institutions, and, after their example most private schools, do not afford the means of pursuing it, even to those students who might be desirous of gaining such knowledge in their leisure hours. This may be said in England without exciting much astonishment; but, according to the proverb, they manage these matters better in France. There, no considerable institution for the education of youth is unprovided with teachers on several subjects which are neglected among us, and particularly of natural philosophy. We should be glad to see this example followed; and, to produce the proper effect, it will be necessary that the heads of schools themselves should take an active part in both this and the mathematical department. We do not say, that it is imperative upon those who are unqualified, to proceed immediately to the difficult task of acquiring, at a late period of life, knowledge so little akin to their former pursuits but we do assert, that it is their duty to show, by engaging the most competent assistants, and by showing that themselves are personally interested in the result, that the hitherto neglected branch of education is not merely tolerated, but really considered as a prominent and useful study. We do not, by any means, speak disrespectfully of the ancient languages, the necessity for which is proved by reasons of unanswerable force, when we assert, that it is only the circumstances of the times, and unwillingness to advocate changes of too violent a nature, which prevent us from arguing that they should be considered only as secondary in importance to the pursuit of the knowledge of nature, in the widest sense. But that it is almost hopeless to expect such a result, we should say that the acquisition of the elements of natural philosophy and natural history should divide the student's time equally with the belles lettres, and the Greek and Latin writers. This is unfortunately so far from being the case at present, that, though fully confident of the adoption of such a scheme, in process of time, we should now consider it as trifling with the reader to pursue the notion further. One considerable point, however, will be gained, when natural philosophy, commonly so called, is recognized and this finger will be the means of introducing the whole hand.
Had we written this only one year ago, we should have been at a loss where to find a book which would have won the intelligent by profound and rational views, the critic by beauties of style, and the follower of other's opinions by the autho
rity of a distinguished name. No one, at all conversant with our present literature, can doubt that we refer to Sir John Herschel's Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy.' Pre-eminent as this work will always appear, if only as an attempt to popularize the spirit of philosophic investigation, there is yet one omission, which, considering how important the subject is, and how well the author would have treated it, we must call a defect: we mean a chapter on the desirableness of introducing physics as a branch of education. But, for the instructor whose acquaintance is only with phenomena, and the catchwords by which they are explained; or the parent, who, with an ordinary education, is desirous of being instrumental in giving his children advantages which were denied to himself, we know of no work so well calculated to point out the path of real knowledge. We would not, by this assertion, lead our readers to conclude that they can, by the work abovementioned, obtain their object without thought or pains on their own part. Nothing but thought can give any value to the results of thought, at least in any higher sense than that in which the maker of a telescope can be said to avail himself of the mind of Galileo or Newton. The man, however, who, to an ordinary knowledge of the results of scientific inquiries up to the present time, adds some power of reflection, and. delights in the exercise of it, will here find the development of views which he might have searched for in vain in most other treatises, filled as they are with experiments and results, and not with the use which may arise from the study of the method of obtaining them. We will even go further, and say, that this work will be better adapted even for children than most of those which are in their hands; though they will find much which they cannot understand, there is no small difference between obscurity which is worth explaining, and that which is not. And the mind of a young person would be forcibly impelled to know more of that which presents difficulties, from the very interesting nature of the illustrations with which the treatise abounds, and which are in most cases more intelligible than the examples given in works written expressly for their use. The whole is a splendid verification of what we have already asserted, that knowledge of the highest kind is never more urgently wanted, or more advantageously displayed, than in an attempt to illustrate the most elementary principles of any branch of knowledge.
The additions necessary to render this work a proper basis of school instruction are, a teacher who thoroughly
enters into its spirit, and a mass of facts in connexion with the different points on which it treats. The first, though a rara avis, is sometimes caught; and the second, though the collection of a sufficient number would be a work of much research, might be partially supplied by any one possessed of moderate information, to an extent which would considerably benefit his pupils. This being done, the 'Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy' would form a class-book infinitely superior to those now in use, both in style and matter. If there be any who smile at our proposing a disquisition worthy the serious attention of the most learned, as a study for the beginner, we would say, that an elementary work is of little value to the latter, unless it contain matter of interest for the former, and will refer them to the fact, that the first principles of every science are among the last to be clearly understood. Moreover, we do not assert that the work in question is complete in itself for the purposes of education; but we do not find in it any assertion, or any principle, which does not admit of such elucidation as would bring it within the comprehension of a child. Let us take, for example, the following paragraph, being the enunciation of the general method of classification,-page 102 :—
It is thus we perceive the high importance in physical science of just and accurate classification of particular facts, or individual objects, under general well considered heads or points of agreement, (for which there are none better adapted than the simple phenomena themselves, into which they can be analysed in the first instance,) for by so doing each of such phenomena, or heads of classification, becomes not a particular, but a general fact; and when we have amassed a great store of such general facts, they become the objects of another and a higher species of classification, and are themselves included in laws which, as they dispose of groups, not individuals, have a far superior degree of generality, till at length, by continuing the process, we arrive at axioms of the highest degree of generality of which science is capable. This process is what we mean by induction ; and from what has been said, it appears that induction may be carried on in two different ways, either by the simple juxtaposition and comparison of ascertained classes, and marking their agreements and disagreements, or by considering the individuals of a class, and casting about, as it were, to find in what particular they all agree, besides that which serves as their principle of classification.'
If we had proposed that the pupil should learn this, as an answer to a question in a catechism, our absurdity, though considerable, would not be unparalleled, since, to compare great things with small, this would not be more unintelligible to a child, than the last of our quotations in p. 67: it is evident,
however, that we have imagined no such thing. But if, on the other hand, the words were first properly explained, not out of a dictionary, but by actual example and illustration; if, again, to the instances given by the author, others were added in considerable quantities, and such might be obtained, in any number, from among those objects with which the pupils are most familiar; if it were not regarded as material, whether so important a method were made the subject of one or of twenty lessons; what is there in the development of this principle of which a clear conception could not be formed, or a good foundation of it laid, at almost any age? And, if such be the case, why should sense be excluded because the language is difficult, when that difficulty may be removed while nonsense, in language equally hard, is circulated and learned by rote without any attempt whatever to make it more easy? Undoubtedly the method of removing all objections would be to write a Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy which should be to the child what the one before us is to the man; but who is there to perform this task? It would require knowledge, and power of illustration, no ways inferior to that of the distinguished author of the Discourse,' combined with great experience of instruction. Nevertheless, that a work should exist, from which by any means so desirable an end may be gained as that which is proposed, is matter of congratulation for all who value knowledge, as a source of civilization and happiness.
Although our remarks have been wholly confined to the study of natural philosophy, the same would apply, in some degree, to that of natural history. The present neglect of both will furnish a curious story for aftertimes. It will be on record, that among the first commercial people in the world, who depended for their political greatness on trade and manufactures, there was not, generally speaking, in the education of their youth, one atom of information on the products of the earth, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral, nor any account of the principles, whether of mechanics or of chemistry, which, when applied to these products, constituted the greatness of their country. And this, when the studies so abandoned were allowed by all to be worthy of pursuit, simply as an exercise of the reason, and without any reference to their application. This story will one day excite some wonder, which will be removed when it is added, that the tone of school education was given by certain endowed establishments, which, resting their existence upon the fame acquired when Latin and Greek were reputed the only useful branches