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the strongest excitement to support, a respectable station in society.
But in order to confer such a boon on society as the awakening of such dispositions must prove, an early beginning must be made. The building in which early cultivation is imparted becomes thus nearly as important an instrument as the teacher to whose care it is entrusted. If the class-room, as we have suggested, be adorned with one or more works of art, whether in painting or in sculpture, according to the means of the patron or of voluntary benefactors, and prizes be distributed in the shape of medals of merit, or of works of history or science, illustrated by skilful masters, it must, above all things, be remembered as a leading principle, that the utility of these gifts will be in exact proportion to their goodness. Where a better work is to be had, there is a great responsibility in putting an inferior one into the hands of a child; for as its effect must be acknowledged to be something real, there is, to say the least, an evident loss of time in occupying him with a bad work.
Nor can we conceive any more inviting task for our young artists than the designing of compositions for such places, where they would be sure to attract attention, and would draw, if meritorious, a certain reward by the notice they would invite, which would make up for a slight pecuniary recompense in the first instance. In this application of the arts, where, in the commencement, it becomes an object to avoid expense, copies need not be excluded or contemned. A good copy of a fine composition will clearly be often preferable to an original of indifferent worth, and can at all times give way to something superior. The art of engraving, which now contributes much to spread a love of pictorial representations, would then exert its full influence. Every school-book ought to have illustrations well chosen, and their choice would evidently be likewise a matter of no common responsibility. Children who study a text with such a commentary are not likely to get their lessons merely by rote, and to acquire'a distaste for words because they appear to convey no ideas. The judgment, that faculty declared by our reporters to stand so much in need of cultivation, would in such a case keep equal pace in improvement with the powers of perception and memory. The playground, with its accompanying flowergarden, should perform the rest of the task of forming the frame and character of the rising member of society; and with these aids we think it would be difficult for a schoolmaster of the most ordinary stamp to turn out men otherwise than endowed with the power of choosing the place allotted to them in life, and with a disposition to enter it with cheerfulness and courage.
We are fully aware of the host of arguments that will on many sides be launched against a proposal which is like demanding palaces for men who have not huts to hide their heads in. What has here been said, like the Report itself, is intended for the small number with whom the improvement of the condition of their poorer neighbours is more than the source of a pious wish or a passing thought; nor are we at all apprehensive that the experiment will be speedily tried upon a large plan. We have but done our duty in supporting the remonstrances of the Commissioners by pointing to what has been done in different ages and in various places with success, and in suggesting that paths which have thus been trodden may again be tracked with advantage. The empires of antiquity and of the middle ages derived but a transitory glory from their system of training, excellent as it was, because their social basis was too narrow; and the cankering evil of desiring to confine the benefits of the liberal arts, as well as more material enjoyments, to a limited class of citizens, by degrading the mass, endangered the safety of the superstructure that rested upon so rotten a foundation. The problem of our age--now that the lower classes, by the improvements in manufacturing, have attained a state of material comfort nearly equal to that of the slaves of Greece and Rome, is evidently this—how is their demand for a share of intellectual enjoyment, with which a share of power is undeniably united, to be gratified? This problem again resolves itself into the question, What will you hold up to their view as the object to be attained by power? what are true sources of contentment and enjoyment ? If better sources than those here indicated can be pointed out, we should rejoice to see
the problem better solved ; until then, why should we not say with the poet, “his utere mecum?”
In repeating our belief that the labouring classes, in the power afforded by association, have discovered the means of procuring themselves not only a greater share of material and refined enjoyments, but also of political influence, we by no means refer to any of the numerous plans for banding them into social or industrial regiments, put forth by the apostles of the phalanx or of the socialists. The projects of Fourier and Robert Owen are based upon an inversion of the process which we recommend. These reformers suppose that an equal distribution, or at least a convenient allotment of worldly possessions, must ensure the improvement of the mental faculties, and dispose the possessors to a moral course of life, and to a taste for rational and refined enjoyments. Our proposition is exactly the converse. Improve by a suitable education the mental powers of the working classes, and you not only furnish them with the power of enjoying rational and refined pleasures, but by enlarging their sphere of action you give them the means of earning a larger share of the necessaries and decencies of life. Fourier, and speculators of his cast, would persuade their hearers that the establishment of order at one period will ensure its maintenance ever after, in a world whose unalterable characteristic is mutability, and in which mental and physical powers are only preserved by dint of exertion and even of strife. The Spartan lawgiver, who went furthest in suppressing the principle of competition in social life, was obliged to give ambition the freest vent in the career of arms, without which the spirit of the nation would have stagnated from inaction. The peaceful rivalry of invention and commercial exertion could not be appreciated by small states, whose very existence was continually at stake amidst the conflicts they were exposed to with powerful barbarians. And yet no field of competition is so extensive, no idea has spurred men to such daring adventure, and no principle has subdued by a voluntary impulse laborious thousands to a happy co-operating organization, like the despised and undervalued wish of individuals to improve their social lot by peacefully contributing to satisfy the wants and consult the tastes of their fellow-men.
VOL. XIII.—No, xxv.
It is a false reproach that has been advanced against our age, in the assertion that an undue propensity to material advantages and sordid pursuits has quenched the ardour which gleamed with poetical fervor in former times, and urged to acts of generous devotion and self-denial. A daring action or a great sacrifice unhesitatingly performed, in obedience to a sense of duty, deserves more praise than a deed to the execution of which the lure of fame and the desire of exclusive distinction impelled the actor. To how calm and unbiassed a view of society, compassionating the errors, and ardent for the improvement of mankind, was it not requisite for the mind of the scholar to attain, before we could expect a report of the nature of that which we have been considering! And is the merit of its authors the less because they probably would smile at the adjudication of an olympic wreath or a civic crown as a distinction in reward of their labours ?
The suggestions which we have hazarded respecting the share which the wealthy classes can take in raising their laborious countrymen to a higher place in the social scale than they now occupy, point to a career of a useful and peaceful kind. It is moreover not unaccompanied with some display, but with a display by which the exhibitor, in gratifying his own feelings, does violence to no one. The reward of exertion in the task of improving the value of the labour of the working classes will be reaped undiminished by the landed proprietors and capitalists, because the test of their own gains will be the degree of prosperity to which the labourer rises. On the other hand, no man is so rich as not to have reason to regret his share of the general loss which is too surely indicated by distress, ignorance and vice, when found extensively to pervade the laborious classes of the community to which he belongs.
La Chronique de Rains, publiée sur le MS. unique de la
Bibliothèque du Roi. Par Louis Paris, Archiviste de la
Ville de Rheims. 8vo. Paris, chez Techener, 1838. The Rheims Chronicle.
This is another of those ancient compositions which the indefatigable investigations of the French érudits are unceasingly bringing to light for the elucidation of the national and literary history of their country. The French historians have earned, principally by the shallow epigrams of some of their popular writers, a character for habits of superficial research; but, with the exception of Voltaire and one or two of the present historical writers, they have ever appeared to ourselves amongst the most diligent inquirers. Saving the great monument of Flemish industry, the Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists, no country can exhibit more striking examples of literary assiduity than France. They are to be found on all sides; and for a recent specimen, we need only to point to two interesting volumes, published not long ago, on the history of the Flags and Ensigns of the French Monarchy*,, a subject seemingly unsusceptible of the application of much toil, but transmuted by the patient author, M. Rey, into the recipient of a marvellous deluge of learning, gathered in good part, not from books, but the comparatively inaccessible folios of MSS.
So much has lately been said upon the historical labours executed in France, particularly during the last twenty-five years, that we are unwilling to mention the subject anew. But it is so necessary to give a fillip to the public attention, unhappily engaged either in political quarrels, for the most part of as little real importance as the theological disputes of the Lower Empire, or in a superficial pursuit of the fashionable physical sciences, that we must be pardoned for repeating a brief effort to shame our countrymen into some feeling of emulation. This cannot be effected better than by naming
* L'histoire du drapeau et des enseignes de la Monarchic Française, 2 vols. 8vo.