Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

TUTE

DURING the Convention of the WESTERN LITERARY INSTI

AND COLLEGE OF PROFESSIONAL TEACHERS, held in Cincinnati, October, 1838,

It was unanimously Resolved, That a volume containing the Transactions of the College be published, corresponding in size and execution with the preceding volumes, to be delivered to subscribers at the following price : $100 per volume, neatly bound.

The proposition of Mr. JAMES R. ALLBACH, to publish the work, was laid before the College, and unanimously adopted.

PRE FACE.

وو

The glory of this age is its educational spirit. In our own State alone upwards of one thousand common school houses have been erected during the last year. And every day brings us tidings of educational movements in all parts of our country. Europe, also, is deeply interested in this good work. Who has not heard of the Prussian school system ? France, with her enlightened leaders, Cousin and Guizot, has caught the spirit of the times. And to name no more, in England the school-master is emphatically abroad.

Even torpid Asia and long-benighted Africa are waking from their slumbers. Schools are there springing up, at every accessible point, under missionary influence. And that extraordinary man, Mohammed Ali, has had teachers for his Egyptian dominions instructed in England and France.

The mention of Egypt, “the basest of the kingdoms,” prompts us to deviate, in some measure, from that succinct generality which is usually required in a preface. We must here, (or not at all,) present to our readers a brief glance at a few particulars, and these of a character so interesting and important that we cannot pass them by.

Miss Halliday, a missionary teacher, now laboring in Cairo, thus writes, under date of March 22, 1838: “On Wednesday, the 7th, I was officially waited on by one of the officers of state, Hekekyan Effendi, who had come directly from his Highness, Mohammed Ali, and formally asked if I would take in charge the education of the royal family, consisting of a hundred in number, principally his daughters, nieces, and nearest relations. Hekekyan said, “This is only the beginning of female education in Egypt, for THE PASHA HAS MUCH LARGER VIEWS,' etc.. One of his Highness's objects is, that I shall endeavor to fórm his eldest daughters into a committee, to take into consideration the best means of extending female schools throughout Egypt, and his

" etc.

other acquired dominions; and it is further his Highness's wish, that they should be superintended by English women,

Would that our limits permitted us to give the whole official letter of the Minister of State! It is indeed an extraordinary, and no less gratifying document to proceed from a Turk. One short passage is all we may extract. “In seconding my illustrious Prince and benefactor in his work of civilizing Egypt, I have been led to reflection by the nature of my duties, and have as yet been able to trace our debasement to no other cause than that of the want of an efficient, moral and useful education, of our females.

Nearly all the educational movements of the age, especially in our own country, exhibit very strikingly two leading sentiments.

1. That education, to be really useful, or even safe, must be christian.

All exclaim against the folly and danger of mere intellectual illumination, and insist upon the paramount importance of moral culture. The former, it is seen, will only make men wise to do evil, whilst the latter alone can render knowledge a blessing to its possessor and to the world.

“ The signs of the times ” have forced these views even upon the most sceptical. The fact is every where too palpable to be denied, that arbitrary power and mere official influence are fast losing their hold upon the popular mind. That respect for superior rank, and that implicit obedience to established authority, which once held the world in awe, are no longer sufficient to tame leviathan. The people have every where begun to inquire and act for themselves. Hence the necessity of self-government is universally felt; without this, we must soon fall into evils far more crushing than the pretensions of aristocracy, or the iron hand of despotism. But has not a woful experience proved that the Bible is absolutely essential to self-government? If a nation could burst its bonds without the Bible, the instance is yet to be seen in which it could maintain its freedom.. Men have, indeed, been slow in coming to the conclusion—they have traveled a long, and weary, and blood-stained way—but the discovery has at last been made, that without the Bible civil liberty is impossible. They are now, therefore, calling aloud for the influence of christianity in all our educational institutions.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

وو

But, further, another sentiment characteristic of the educational movements of the age, is that instruction must be universal.

Knowledge is beginning to be regarded as common property. Like light, to which each one feels that he has a natural right, and to deprive him of which he resents as most unjust and tyrannical, it is demanded that education be free to all.

But in addition to this voice of our common humanity, sound policy comes in with her injunctions. If the people are every where getting the ascendency, and must finally, and very speedily too, have all power in their hands, it is miserable infatuation to withhold from them “ the instruction of wisdom.” The world must soon be ruled by worse than a brute force,- monstrum horrendum, --- cui lumen ademptum,-a horrid, sightless monster,”-a power combining the fierce passions of the beast with the infernal sagacity of depraved human nature ;-in one word, by the Mob-unless education, sound christian education be universally diffused. To the one or the other of these states must we rapidly approach, and it is the growing conviction of this most momentous fact, that has aroused even selfishness, and pressed it into the work of popular instruction.

And even where charity herself cannot see christian benevolence, and there are too strong proofs of a want of patriotic feeling, or, at least, of that enlightened and enlarged mind which could appreciate the political importance of education,-even in these cases, mere desire of popularity and its gainful consequences, now prompt to the cry. The current of the public mind has set this way, and the lightest craft, when once fairly on the stream, may float into the official haven “ where it would be.” It is not uncommon, at this day, to hear the demagogue who never put forth a finger to sustain the schools of his district, the loudest in his professions of friendship for these most important institutions.

Is it here asked, whence has arisen this educational spirit? And what has given it this lofty, and all-embracing character? We answer, without fear of successful contradiction, it is the Bible which has aroused the public mind; it is the Bible which has elevated its aims, and expanded its views, and is directing all its counsels.

Never had the Bible been so widely circulated and generally read, as it was just previously to the present revival of the cause of education. And wherever the Bible has the most influence, there the work of education progresses most prosperously; and on the other hand, where it is a prohibited book, there the slumber of the dark

ages

is still unbroken. And it is because the Missionary is so imbued with the spirit of the Bible, that he is uniformly found the pioneer of education. And, to mention no more, is it not from Bible lands that schools are now spreading over the dark places of the earth ?

What did Greece and Rome ever do to educate the mass of the people? Odi profanum vulgus, was the very spirit of their religion and their philosophy.

And what does Mohammedanism or Heathenism now do, when left to themselves, to diffuse the benefits of education ?

The Bible is emphatically the book of knowledge, and the book of liberty. It freely unlocks to all the storehouse of the former, that it may prepare them for the rational aud safe enjoyment of the latter. And as the holy volume gains its rightful ascendency in the world, ignorance and oppression in all their dire forms will flee before it, and the human family rise to that glorious liberty wherewith the truth alone can make them free.

We are aware, in offering these reflections, that they bring to , view a high, a very high standard to which our own volume may be legitimately brought. We do not shrink from the trial. It would, indeed, be useless and unwise, at this day, to do so. Whilst, then, we disclaim a direct and minute responsibility for every thing which may appear in our Transactions, we do profess to be generally accountable that nothing be found in them offensive to good morals, or, upon the whole, unfriendly in its bearings upon the cause of Christianity.

A society, which has twice unanimously recorded its solemn decision in favor of the use of the Bible in all our educational institutions, and which has invariably, and in the most emphatic tones, declared itself the friend of universal education, has nothing to fear from popular scrutiny, or charitable christian judgment. In a volume proceeding from so many, and designed for readers of all classes, there must necessarily be materials of very varied character, and at times, not a little difference of views; but we humbly trust that, as a whole, it bears' unequivocally upon it the characteristic sentiments of that enlightened and expanded educational spirit which is the glory of this age.

« ZurückWeiter »