Imagens das páginas

with regularity and fidelity, while he continues a member thereof.

No Cadet is allowed to be absent from the Institution for a moment at any time, without a written permission, which is granted, during the week, very seldom, and then not without good reasons first stated to the Superintendent or officer applied to. The watchfulness of the guard and the frequent roll-calls and inspections, preclude the .possibility of absence without leave. We ask those who have ever resided in a college town, to contrast this state of affairs with what they know of the degree of restriction to which students, in general, are subject.

The most soldier-like conduct and the strictest attention to duty of all kinds, are enjoined and enforced. All delinquencies for the week are published at parade on Friday. Every offence of commission or omission, has a correspondent number of demerit marks; and failure to excuse, in writing, any delinquency, entails the punishment. Two hundred demerit marks in one year will dismiss a Cadet. Any serious offence, however, such as wilful disobedience of orders, intoxication, or gross disrespect to a superior officer, is immediately followed by suspension until the end of the year: this is generally equivalent to a dismissal, for, even when the Cadet is restored, his class having progressed in the interim, he is compelled to join a lower one, and thus loses a year.

The larger classes are divided into sections, which recite at different hours, to facilitate frequency of examination. All recitations are regularly marked, and each Cadet is questioned or called to demonstrate, as the case may be, at very short intervals—almost daily. We remember once hearing a student of a college complain bitterly of a certain Professor in his Institution, who, he said, had called upon him, notwithstanding his regular attendance, but once during the year, and yet had two " flashes" marked against him. Now we apprehend that the omission for only three days to call upon a Cadet to recite, would lead any class in the Military Academy to conclude that the particular pupil was most strangely neglected by the instructor. Class reports are handed in weekly from every department, to the Superintendent, containing the marks for recitations, the total of each Cadet for the week, and the progress of each class since the last report. These are all recorded and preserved, and are open to the inspection of the students. From these records and the delinquent marks, which count negatively, at the end of every session and year, the merit rolls are made out by the Adjutant. Neither the Superintendent nor the Professors have any thing to do, directly, with assigning positions in the classes: even after the last report of the session has been handed in, no one knows what Cadet will be first or second or twentieth, until the merit roll is presented by the Adjutant. The impulse given to emulation by such a system, may be readily imagined. The fact, also, that the offices of Corporals, Sergeants, Lieutenants, &c., are given to the most soldier-like, diligent and trustworthy Cadets, constitutes an incentive to exertion of which Colleges generally know nothing. In short, every honourable principle is brought to bear upon the student; rewards attend success, while failure, when culpable, meets censure and disgrace: sense of duty, ambition, patriotism, love of learning, are all inculcated, all felt and all appreciated.

We will here allude to an observation of Cousin, quoted by President Thornwell, which we will show to be entirely inapplicable to the South-Carolina Military Academies. It refers to the sons of mechanics and artisans in those branches of labour which require some ingenuity as well as " a little chemistry, a little engineering or a little natural philosophy," and supposes them forced to attend institutions where more is taught than they require. "In general," says Cousin, writing of his own country, " these boys, who know they are not destined to any very distinguished career, go through their studies in a very negligent manner ; they never get beyond mediocrity: when, at about eighteen, they go back to the habits and business of their fathers, tyc." Now it is probable that the French youth who knows he is to follow his father's occupation of making philosophical instruments, executing the designs of architects or superintending a colour factory, may also know that the fact precludes the possibility of any very distinguished career. But the young American, be his father who or what he may, with the history of the illustrious men of his land before him, cannot know to what position in life time may elevate or degrade him. Nothing will assure him that he cannot reach eminence, except it be his own consciousness that he possesses none of the elements requisite for its attainment. God forbid that the father's occupation should cause the son to know that he is himself excluded from a high career, even though in the outset of life he should adopt the same pursuit.

But suppose, for a moment, that the business and social position of the father did, as a general rule, necessarily determine the destiny of the son, and fetter his exertion by a knowledge of the fact, the Military Academies would not be affected in consequence. Their pupils, beneficiary as well as pay, are from no particular class of society, but, as in most other institutions, from all classes. With the obvious exception, then, that beneficiaries are] never rich, we say generally, that wealthy and indigent, obscurej and distinguished, clergymen and mechanics, lawyers, farmers and physicians, planters, merchants and seamen, all have had sons within their walls, and all have found them benefited in proportion to the time they remained. Many of these have been prompted by necessity; some have tried the system as an experiment, and others have been influenced by the supposed "military spirit" of their sons; but a great number, men too (of enlightened [views and in affluent circumstances, have selected the Military Schools from a firm conviction of the superiority of the system.

One advantage which the State derives from these schools, is "the bringing of indigent merit to the light;" for where, in the present state of affairs, can a youth of promise look for an education at the hands of his State, except to her Military Academies? The annual appropriation for the Free Schools educates no one; it simply teaches a few to read badly and write worse; and we all know the expense attendant upon a course at any of our Colleges. To this expense we do not object, nor do we see how it could well be avoided; still it must be met, or so far as these institutions are concerned, the education cannot be obtained. There is, then, apart from these Academies, with the exception of a single State Scholarship in the South-Carolina College, absolutely no gratuitous provision for developing the richest resources of a commonwealth—the minds of her citizens.*

But Sir Win. Hamilton says:—"The student should be considered as an end to himself, his perfection as a man simply being the aid of his education." President Thornwell quotes him approvingly, and (from a fair consideration of various portions of his letter, we conclude) intends the following inference to be drawn, which inference we give in our own words:—That these youths (Cadets) being educated only for the vulgar purpose of proving useful to their fellow men, and not each as an end to himself, are very imperfectly educated after all; and, indeed, acquire "nothing more than the principles of physical science, on account of their application to various branches of industry." To this, let us with due deference say, that we acknowledge neither the truth of Sir Wm. Hamilton's principle,! as isolated by Dr. Thornwell, nor the correctness of the application and inference. Having no space for our objections to the position quoted, we pass to the supposed limited range of inferior rank of employments, for which graduates of the Military Academies are qualified. We are aware that this impression has, to some extent, been entertained; but, until lately, we presumed it to exist among those only who were ignorant of the course of studies there pursued, and of the system of instruction; who had never attended an examination, to all of which the public are invited; and who had, lastly, never given to the subject anything like that attention which a very moderate degree of interest, in every feature of the educational policy of the State, would have demanded and ensured.

* la this connection wo may mention the case of Allen H. Lyttle. This youth, of the most humble circumstances, retumed from the Mexican War when scarcely seventeen, leaving his right arm as an evidence of his gallantry, at the Belen Gate. Although not complying with the requisitions of the Military Academy in various particulars, he was specially admitted as a beneficiary Cadet. Not knowing a letter or a figure, one year was devoted to his instruction in reading and writing with facility; at the end of which period, he entered the Institution regularly as a member of the Fourth Class. Five years from the time of beginning to learn his letters, he graduated with the first honour, not given to him by courtesy, but won over able and diligent rivals by persevering application to every department of study. Unfortunately, his constitution was weak, and eight months after graduating he died of consumption.

Does not one case like this speak volumes for any institution 1 And yet though this is the most brilliant instance, there are others differing from it, not in kind. but only in degree.

t Sir W. H. does not, by any means, exclude other ends in his view of education, but simply gives self-perfectioD a prominence, in the justice of which we are not inclined to acquiesce.

We know but a single graduate who is engaged in any mechanical occupation ; not because they are above such— if they were, the fact would alone overthrow the position that they were educated for nothing else—but for the simple reason that they have readily found employment in those "branches of industry" which the most exalted notions of a republican will not permit him to contemn.

Perhaps some light may be thrown upon this branch of the subject, by a detailed statement of the present employments of the eighty-seven graduates :—Civil Engineers, 18 Teachers, 18; Planters, 9; Professors, 7; Physicians, 7 Medical Students, 5; Clergymen, 5; Lawyers, 4; Clerks, 4 Merchants, 3; Law Students, 2; Editors, 2; Treasurer R. R. Company, 1; Rail-Road Agent, 1 ; Machinist, 1.

The degree of success attending these young men in their various occupations, we must leave to be estimated by those who have had fair opportunities of doing so. That some of them may not have realized the anticipations of their friends and the friends of the Academies, we are not inclined to deny; but we are pleased to know that of these the number is small, and equally well pleased to believe that its increase will bear a very slight proportion to that of the intelligent, correct and useful members of society, whom the institution claims as her intellectual offspring.

Our task is now nearly performed; the object of this article was not to review directly any work, discuss any principle, or contest the merit of any plan, but solely to correct certain false impressions, and to give some general, and, at the same time, certain information concerning that system of education which the enlightened policy of our Legisla

« AnteriorContinuar »