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those who are engaged in tuition shirk the awful labour of thoroughly grounding their average disciples. To him that hath shall be given, is their rule of action; they cultivate the quick-witted brains, and leave the generality to their fate. Now, I have a great respect for the duller, slower portion of the boy and girl population. They usually turn out well and repay labour, if they are so fortunate as to be brought in early life into the hands of a vigorous instructor, like rough cotton into the grasp of a Manchester mill. And one cannot but feel that a teacher ought to be as proud of rescuing an average soul from a barren mediocrity by his diligence, as of inspiring conspicuously able minds by his genius. But such diligence is too commonly undervalued and underpaid. In public schools, the elementary classes are usually committed to men who, among mankind, stand in the same relation as pack-horses to racers. Any back is thought, too frequently, good enough to teach the juniors; and as the price of a hack alone is offered, nothing better can be expected for the money. Hence follows a radical insufficiency of rudimentary instruction. Intelligent perseverance requires mind, and mind will fetch money. Larger salaries ought to be given to the teachers of the elements, and altogether a higher order of persons employed upon the work. The adoption of this measure would immediately be felt throughout the whole succeeding course of instruction. Indeed, the first subject of inquiry in school examination ought always to be the quality of the elementary teaching. In the structure of the Houses of Parliament and of the Arc d'Etoile, the substructions are nearly as deep underground as the edifices are high above the surface—and the foundations of adult thought ought to be laid thus deep in the thoroughness of a school education. Happy are the parents who have found for their children so inestimable a blessing as a careful and conscientious teacher. The habit of exactness acquired in youth is seldom lost. It passes from the memory into the judgment and reason, and frequently from thence into the conscience.

The third cause of that imperfect school training which leads to so many after evils, is the common and ignorant desire of parents for show, quantity, and variety, rather than for soundness in attainment.

It is not every parent who has a clear idea of what he wants when he sends a son or daughter to school. And of those who do know what they want, many want the wrong thing. Some send their children to a school because it is conveniently near at hand, although the instruction given may be nearly worthless. Others will send their boys to a person who has a reputation for carrying youth rapidly forward, either in classics or mathematics. Others consign their children to a school of which they know nothing, but that it is respectable, and that their friends act precisely in the same manner. The great majority of parents are more pleased to hear that their children are reading Homer and Ilorace, than that they are thoroughly learning the grammar, which would enable them to read with facility and profit. Not many are contented with a little perfectly mastered, understanding that the object of school education is the training of the faculties to habits of exact perception and action, as the instruments of all future acquisition and activity in the world. Thus encouraged, the teacher sinks into indolent habits, and the pupil passes from subject to subject, and from class to class, consciously building on the sand, until he leaves school and finishes his education' with his head full of half-knowledge, and his hand untrained for every strenuous work. The dear boy who returns in this condition to the domestic roof, is in a fair way to grow up with a fixed taste for superficial acquirements, and with that unlimited conceit in his own foolish judgment which is the peculiar characteristic of the empty dandy and buffoon. The father wonders why the expenditure of so much money has not ended, at least, in the power of speaking a French sentence correctly, or in a steady taste for some description of useful reading or polite accomplishment. But no. The young gentleman was never sufficiently master of the rudiments of any branch of learning to be able to take a hearty interest in the process of building thereon. The invaluable season of early youth has passed away when the drudgery and discipline of elementary learning is best endured, when the memory is retentive, and the organs of speech are pliable, and now it is too late to begin again. He must grow up as he best can, and find, in the necessary accuracy of business, a rough substitute for the intellectual training which he should have gained before. If that fail, there is no prospect but that he will grow up clothed spiritually in tatters. He may be a rich man; he may become a church member, and even a busy deacon, and managing director, and hold a seat in college councils and missionary boards; but he will continue, in spite of these ill-gained stars and orders, to carry within him a soul devoid of clear and conscientious convictions, devoid of beliefs gained by diligent investigation, and devoid of the power which would deliver him from being the bondslave of the beast-worshipping' multitude, and the time-serving repeater of its cries.

E. W.

Lights of England in the Dark Ages.

ALFRED THE GREAT.

(Concluded from page 54.)

We have seen in what a deplorably dark condition Alfred found his kingdom, owing to the incursions of the Danes. Not a single man of the most ordinary attainments to be found south of the Thames, and the state of things but very little better in those portions of the country which had been less exposed to the piratical attacks of the barbarians! The waves of the northern invasion had swept away al ost every trace of culture. So far as the schools of learning were concerned the island might almost as well have been sunk for twentyfour hours under the sea. Meanwhile on the partial retiring of the waters, the intellectual restoration was not the only, nor the first work to be attended to. The nation had to be politically and socially reorganized. Mutual divisions and jealousies had to be healed, in order that shoulder to shoulder the nation might fight in defence of its soil, its laws, and its religion. Those wooden walls of Old England had to be built, which have ever since proved a sure protection against invasion. For to ALFRED is due the discovery of this grand arcanum of our strength. In short, his was a task scarcely less various and difficult than that of Moses, and had he not been animated by a faith like that of the great prophet, who was called of God to make the Israelitish nation out of a horde of Egyptian slaves, he must have sunk in despair beneath his burden.

Our heroic ALFRED, as we know, though disheartened, was not cast down. As he looked abroad upon the wide waste he might well feel smitten with many a pang, but he put his trust in God, and, instead of wringing his hands in helplessness, set manfully to work. Striking the spade into the earth, he began to till the fallow ground in his own immediate neighbourhood, and to plant once more the tree of knowledge, confiding in Heaven to scatter the seeds afar, and to make the blasted heath again rejoice and blossom as the rose.

Happy was it for England that she could bear such a son for such an emergency, and still more happy that she had borne him for the throne! In a private station how little could even an Alfred have accomplished. But as the royal deliverer of his people, something at least was possible. Even Mr. Baines, it is to be supposed, would

, hardly care to deny that here, at any rate, was an instance, however rare such may be, in which the ruling power was the only one that could be properly entrusted with the education of the people. Surely with examples like that of ALFRED to warn us against too hasty generalization, it is scarcely wise to insist too stifly on the abstract dogma, that in no conceivable case can a government legitimately undertake the schoolmaster's function. On the other hand, every true patriot, unless drugged with a nostrum, like Mr. Cobden and some others of the Manchester politicians, must see that it is infinitely better that a people should educate themselves, as the people of England are (as the Census proves), at last fairly in the way of doing, than that the State should have them in its leading-strings. The paternal theory of government belongs to the creed of despotism, and is applicable only when, owing to the infantile helplessness of a people, the dictatorship of a father of his country, like our immortal ALFRED, is the sheet-anchor of national safety. Thus, here again, as ever, the exception is seeming only, and really proves the rule, so that stanch voluntary educationalists, unless ultra in their sentiments, can consistently join in felicitating their country on having an ALFRED at hand to disperse the darkness left behind them by the Danes.

But, further, may we not turn the beatitude round and say, Happy was it for England that she presented such an emergency for an ALFRED to grapple with? This will, it is not unlikely, be deemed a

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very bold assertion. What! the Danish invasions a blessing? it may be asked. The fell swoop of the 'Raven' from its northern eyry to tear with bloody claws and beak the quivering carcase of our country, a matter for congratulation ? The shivering in pieces of the beautiful work of civilization, so auspiciously commenced under Bede and Adrian, Aldhelm and Theodore, by the heavy hammer of Thor, how is it possible to deem this triumph of savagery anything else than an unmixed evil, an unmitigated curse? Well

, it certainly does seem that one must have a heart like those of the Bears' that made the desolation, to feel anything approaching to complacency in the sight of these smoking ruins. But stop a moment, gentle reader, and rein in the rising storm of indignation. Do not forget that in the life of nations also, no less than in that of individuals, it often happens (so wise and merciful is God in his chastenings) that dark clouds bring water when the bright bring none.' Excellent sermons, and not quite so dull as some we are occasionally doomed to hear, might be preached on the History of England, but for the paganism which pastors and flocks have unhappily agreed to christen spirituality of mind. Jehovah has as truly led us English throughout the centuries of our national history and down to the present hour as He ever led the Jews; and the same may be said of every other people. Indeed, we clean miss the lesson taught us by Ilis miraculous interference in the affairs of that chosen people to whom His oracles were committed, if we ignore the operations of His hand in shaping the destinies of every nation under heaven. He is the God of all the families of the earth.' 'Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also.' Thus argues the apostle Paul, and hence there need be no more difficulty in believing that the descents of the Danish pirates upon our coasts were as wisely ordered by Providence for the ultimate welfare of England, than that the Babylonian captivity proved a blessing to God's ancient people. It does not fall within the scope of this paper to point out at large how the Scandinavian scourge turned out to be a wholesome discipline, and how the history of ALFRED, who was himself schooled for great things by its stripes, was in this respect also typical of that of his country. It is only in its bearing upon the interests of our national culture that the dreadful visitation has to be considered here. To be sure, this would seem to be the most difficult part of the problem, to show how the almost total obliteration of culture in the end furthered culture. Yet paradoxical as it sounds, this was actually the case. No doubt but for the great man whom God had raised up for the crisis the event might have been widely different. The Anglo-Saxon people might too probably in that case have sunk into barbarism to rise no more, and how immense a change in the entire history of the world would this have involved! Happily the need of the time obtained its response in the man of the time. The following passage from ALFRED's own hand, to which William Guizot has done well to call attention, shows both how profoundly the noble Saxon king felt the necessity, and with what a brilliant inspiration of

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genius he' aroused himself to meet it. It occurs in the prefatory letter addressed to Wulfsige, bishop of Sherborne, and other Saxon prelates, prefixed to the king's translation of Gregory the Great's Pastoral Rule. 'I remember,' he writes, “to have seen with my own eyes, before all was pillaged and burnt, the churches throughout the whole of England enriched with ornaments and full of books. There was also then a great number of the servants of God, but they got no good from their books, from their inability to understand them, because they had none written in their mother tongue. They were the fathers of our fathers who had amassed these treasures, through their love of wisdom, and who left us the inheritance of it. We see their memorials to this day, but we can no longer follow in their footsteps; for we have lost their wisdom as well as their treasures, and we lack the will to set on this object all the desires of our minds. As I have pondered these things, I have greatly marvelled that those wise men who were formerly the ornament of our nation, and were fully acquainted with all sorts of books, never thought of translating them into their own language. It is true that I have quickly replied to myself, it must have been because they never dreamt that men could one day be so careless, and that knowledge could sink so low; besides, they have purposely let alone this work of translation, thinking we should thus be the better forced to learn the tongues, and that learning would flourish the more amongst us.

But then the thought occurred to me, that the Law of God was at first indited in Hebrew, but that the Greeks afterwards, when they came to the knowledge of it, put it into Greek, and the Latins, in their turn, into Latin, and that, since then, every other Christian people has translated some portion of the holy Scriptures into its own tongue. For this reason it seems to me very expedient, if you are of the same opinion, to set about selecting a certain number of books, those, namely, which it is most necessary to make accessible to all, and to translate them into the language which we all of us understand. We shall thus bring to pass very easily, with the help of God, and if peace continue, that the entire youth of this nation, and especially the young people belonging to free and rich families, will apply themselves to the study of letters, and will not devote themselves to any other exercise, until they shall be able to read the Anglo-Saxon books. Afterwards their masters will teach Latin to those who wish to know more, and to rise to a higher station in life. After having reflected thus, I have made choice of the book which is called, in Latin, “Pastoralis," and which we call the Pastor's Book. The learned men whom I have at my court have explained it to me, and when I have come to understand it thoroughly, I have translated it into Anglo-Saxon, sometimes literally, sometimes only taking the thoughts, according as it seemed preferable to me, with a view to making it easy to understand. I have sent a copy of it to each bishop of the kingdom, and on every copy there is an æstel* of the

* It is uncertain what the æstel was, but it is conjectured that it may have been some sort of richly ornamented covering.

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