Obrázky na stránke
[ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][ocr errors]



It may not be improper on permitting the following juvenile productions to appear in print to repeat a few of the remarks I have already made on the subject of education, with such others as may grow out of the present occasion. And it may not be useless to give also some account of the origin and object of the fund from which the prizes awarded to these productions are furnished ; and of the course of studies pursued in the Latin School.

Education, at the present time, seems to have excited a degree of interest in the publick mind greater than at any other period since the settlement of our country. That this subject was ever kept in view by our ancestors, the first settlers of New England, is acknowledged with gratitude, and shewn in our character and publick institutions. And that the learned languages were considered important by them appears from the following curious preamble to the first law

[ocr errors]

of the Commonwealth establishing grammar schools : “ It being one chief project of Satan to keep men from the knowledge of the scriptures, as in former times keeping them in unknown tongues, so in these latter times by persuading from the use of tongues, that so at last the true source and meaning of the original might be clouded and corrupted with false glosses of deceivers ; to the end therefore that learning may not be buried in the graves of our forefathers, in church and Commonwealth ; it is enacted,” &c. And we do not feel it any reproach to ourselves, or to our discerning forefathers, who established a course of education adapted to our age and to our wants, that we have not yet seen many distinguished literary men rise up in our youthful republic. It has hitherto been much more important that we should receive form and stability as a nation, than that we should gain a literary precocity, or attempt to shine in those ornaments which belong to wealth and dignity alone.

Although our advancement in literature and science may not have kept pace with our progress in wealth and political importance, it has nevertheless been constant and adequate to our exigencies. And so far from feeling the supercilious sneers and illjudged remarks of foreigners, or of our own citizens who would show us our deficiencies, magnified and distorted through the medium of foreign journals, as


a reproach to us, because we have not men more deeply learned in the various departments of science, literature, and the arts; we feel it a subject of congratulation that we have not; that we understand our circumstances and our interest better than they do; and that we have not deserted the unfinished bulwarks of our nation to erect temples to the Muses, and inscribe altars to unknown gods.

But the time has now arrived when it becomes our privilege as well as our policy to enlarge our system of education, and extend the circle of literary inquiry. We are no longer bound to drudge exclusively in the field, the workshop, or the counting house. We have some time now which may be spared to enlighten the mind, cultivate the taste, and qualify us for intellectual enjoyment.

It is true the situation of affairs in Europe may have somewhat affected our commercial interests, and have checked the unnatural current of wealth which for many years has been pouring into our coffers ; and which has brought with it a degree of extravagance in living as incompatible with our future

prosperity, as it is unreasonable in its demands, and unsatisfying in its effects. Yet this is no reason why literary institutions should want patronage. We should teach our children to seek their happiness in rational and intellectual enjoyments rather than in useless profusion and hurtful luxury. He who forms

his son to a love of letters and qualifies him for the enjoyment of enlighted and highminded society, most effectually guards him from the seductions of vice and sensuality. He even provides for his honourable support with greater certainty than if he left him in

possession of unbounded aflluence.

But how are we to accomplish an object so desirable as the formation of a literary taste in our children, and how most effectually to aid in promoting the cause of literature in America ? There can be but one answer. By patronizing our schools, and greatly enlarging the course of studies in them; especially that of the classics. We must enlist talents and learning in their management, and keep children there much longer. Boys must not be removed to the University at the moment they are prepared to pursue their classical studies to advantage. They should be made thorough and accurate by the authority of a master, and polished by his familiar instructions. They should be assisted till the way becomes easy, and they will pursue it voluntarily. But this will never be the case while the course of study at school continues as circumscribed as it is at present; and while lads are sent mere children to the University at the age of fourteen years: where it depends very much on themselves whether they will study or not ; and where, in addition to the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French and Spanish languages there taught, they are

« PredošláPokračovať »