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into foreign consumption, we should have reason to fear a temporary diminution of our revenue, where is the difficulty of finding an adequate compensation? Why not indemnify the treasury by a proportionate duty on that part of our stock of grain which we import from foreign and even hostile nations? The amount of this is said to have been, on the average of the last ten years, about 750,000, and during the last year about 1,750,000 quarters. Did our population double during the last year? or was the harvest, for the supposed abundance of which we returned thanks to heaven, notoriously deficient? If not, the importation was apparently excessive. It certainly produced a considerable fall in the price of grain; it excited general, and perhaps just complaints amongst the farmers; it compelled the landed interest to insist on the restoration of the monopoly of the distilleries; it is said to have occasioned that unexampled rise in the price of gold which many very enlightened men mistook for a depreciation of bank notes. But, whether the result of a real demand, or of mercantile speculation, such a supply might surely be rendered subservient to the interests of the revenue. There is no apparent reason why our consumption of the grain supplied by foreigners should be held sacred, whilst that of British malt and sugar is considered as a legitimate object of taxation. If it be said that the burthen of such a tax would fall on those classes who are too poor to consume either beer or sugar, we answer that the thing is obviously impossible, because every pecuniary contribution is only a commutation for that personal service which we all owe to the state;-and that those who pay in personal service must, and will be adequately fed and clothed, whatever taxes may be levied on food or clothing. If it be objected that in this case the tax will occasion a mischievous rise in the price of labour, the answer is, that such is the necessary effect of all taxation; that it is, in all cases proportionate to the amount levied; and that a commutation of a duty on tea, on sugar, or on any other article, cannot increase the pressure of the national burthen.

ART. X. Essays on Professional Education. By R. L. Edge worth, Esq. F. R.S. M.R.I.A., &c. 4to. pp. 496. Loudon, Johnson.


T is an attempt worthy of the active spirit of the present age to revise the existing plans of education; and while other things are sharing the benefit of the new lights afforded to us, to consider, whether some of them may not be turned with advantage upon those systems and places of instruction which are to furnish the state with its most efficient and valuable members. The writers of the day, who

who are always the circulators of growing information, have not been wanting in this point. They have favoured us with their opinions very freely; perhaps with more bustle than wisdom; according to the common zeal of that description of men, who, when they have their hour of audience with the public, rarely offend by saying too little. But the cause itself of improvement is not to be discountenanced for their indiscretion. It will always deserve attention and inquiry should this fail of recommending to us what is new, it may yet give us sounder reason, and that is no bad alternative, to be satisfied with what we possess.

Among those who have wished to deserve well of the youth of their country, by shewing how they may be instructed on a better model than their fathers, Mr. Edgeworth stands by far the first, in the application which he has given to the subject, and the fullness with which he has explained himself upon it. In his present volume, besides opening a general plan which we believe to be novel, he has incorporated with it all the most promising and popular of the topics that have been insisted on by other writers. The review of his work therefore will include the most compendious discharge of our critical duties on the subject at large.

For the first twenty years, and often five and twenty, of a man's life, he may be considered as under the auspices of education. This is a fearful portion of his whole existence; and perhaps there is no part of it, long as it is, which may not be well or ill directed, so as to have an effect upon what he is to be for ever after. But the earlier stage of it, we confess lies wholly beyond our knowledge. While life is wrapped up in the mystery of the bud, we have not applied our sight to look into its convolutions, nor have we physiology enough to say what culture it requires. Mr. Edgeworth begins with the infant; we cannot follow him there, but must be contented to meet him at a more advanced point on the road. By casting our views forward at once into manhood, and considering what a person ought then to be, we may pass a fair judgment upon those plans and measures of education which profess to be directed to that stage of life.

There are some preliminary matters, however, which we must not omit, as they are essentially connected with the main and leading purpose of the work. In the first chapter they are introduced to us by a renewal of the long agitated questions on the existence of natural genius, and the choice of a profession. Out of the former of these questions we do not think the author has extricated himself very happily, either by forcible argument in support of his opinions, or a clear explanation of what those opinions are. well as we can collect his sense upon it, he intends to grant a wide difference of original native capacity in different men; but to deny

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any peculiar natural genius: that is, some men may be born to rise above the rest of their species; but in what way it shall be, whether as philosophers, artists, or poets, is no part of their natural destination. In fact he seems nearly to adopt the doctrine of Dr. Johnson, in his Life of Cowley: The true genius is a mind of large general powers accidentally determined to some particular direction.' If this doctrine be true, human minds, great and small alike, are at the first indifferent to any art, science, or profession. Accident may decide the taste of others, by well selected and well managed motives, or in one word, education may decide it also. Here comes in the practical application of the doctrine, of which Mr. Edgeworth avails himself most largely, the expediency of a parent's consigning every son to a profession, unembarrassed by any scruple about a primary designation of his faculties. The nations who have made arts and professions hereditary in a family, probably argued in the same way.

It must be confessed that the speculative part of the question is lost in uncertainty; and rigid proofs, or even very close inferences on either side, are not to be expected. For when an infant mind begins to grasp the specific employment which captivates it, who will pretend to say, in drawing up a report of that invisible process, how far the determination is owing to the exterior circumstances which are one party to the event, and the mental energy which is another? There may be a predominant natural talent, definite in its character and design; but if the possessor of it be born with no consciousness of its kind and direction, nor any instinctive impulse to carry him straight forward to its end; (and we have no reason to expect he should;) how is nature to shew herself and declare her purpose, but with the concurrence of those circumstances which furnish the talent with an object suited to its powers and in harmony with them? The most sovereign specific powers and vir tues may be inactive, till they find the proper substance to work upon. Then they begin to appear, but not to exist. With regard to mental endowments, the casual occurrence of the critical accident may ascertain what it does not determine. It may let the owner of them into the secret of his own mind, and give him a feeling of his strength and where it lies. And this hypothesis accords full as well in every point as the other, with the phenomena of those examples upon which Mr. Edgeworth has reasoned. The examples are Cowley, and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Cowley is said to have been made a poet by Spenser's Fairy Queen, which lay in the window of his mother's room, and in which he took very early delight to read, till by feeling the charms of verse, he became, as he relates, irrecoverably a poet. Such are the accidents which sometimes remembered and sometimes forgotten, produce that particular desig

nation of mind, and propensity for some certain science or employment which is commonly called genius.* Reynolds is described as having become a painter in a similar way, from the pleasure he received when he was five years old, from the prints in an old book of emblems.' But do all children of genius feel the same kind of charm in verse, or derive the same pleasure from prints and emblems? If they do not, must we not ascribe the difference to nature? Perhaps then the language of biography would be no less correct, which made those volumes of prints and poetry stand as the index rather than the disposing cause, to the respective talents of those two accomplished men. Cowley might have read other books, had they been laid in the same window, without feeling any such powerful attraction in them: or another man of general powers equally large, suppose Edinund Halley, might have had the like tempting access to the Fairy Queen, in his infaucy, and yet no mathematician have been lost by it.

If general reasoning may be trusted at all on this point, it will be as safe a mode as any other to say that minds will naturally like that sort of action or study best, for which they are best fitted; (the aptitude of their capacity for it will give them a feeling of success in the first attempts they make upon it; and this will attach permanently their liking and preference ;) hence that where an extraordinary charm is felt in any pursuit, it is a fair symptom of a previous leaning of the faculties to it; and, on this principle, that there was a native poetry in Cowley returning the call of the other poet whose works he read.

This opinion, to which we incline, that in the human species individuals are sometimes born with a cast and qualification better adapted to one purpose than another; and that among the common mental qualities combined in various degrees, there are disseminated also peculiarities of excellence, fixed on the first draught of the mind, and not convertible by art or discipline, is at the least a sober opinion which shocks no certain truth, and is consistent with analogy, if men are right in supposing, as they commonly do, that there are other innate constitutional modes of temper and character, whatever may be thought of peculiar talent. Such personalities of genius may be few; but their being rare makes them more worth preserving; and when they do occur with any thing like a strong stamp upon them, we should beware of spoiling the natural mintage by attempting to set a new face upon it, which may only obscure the inscription, and falsify the value of the coin.

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The talk of innate propensities in children for being bishops, generals, or chancellors,' we freely give up to any merry bead that

* Life of Cowicy.


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desires a laugh at the ignorant phraseology of fond fathers. At the same time, till we are better convinced of the all-regulating power of education, we shall feel some doubt whether a divine and a brigadier-general are always to be had, at choice, out of the same mind: and whether the two different talents of instructing mens' souls and destroying their bodies, in the greatest perfection, be in every case the result merely of professional education. Some writer has said, that many a man has run his head against a pulpit, who might have done his country good service at a plough-tail. In the same way, we believe there have been men who have got reputation at the cannon's mouth, who never would have earned it, by being taught to open their own, either in law or divinity.

Even in a more general and comprehensive sense, the name of genius is treated by Mr. Edgeworth with great severity. We agree with him in condemning the indiscreet, and often very false use of it, as a current mark for dividing the whole party in a school or a family into two general invidious descriptions. Then indeed the word may become a common mischief; fostering a ruinous presumption in a few; deadening the hopes and exertions of many more; and letting loose a vitiated, malignant spirit between both. We can imagine that those to whom it is designed as an honour are the greatest sufferers by it; that there is hardly a chance left for a boy's future eminence, when he comes to pass for a genius; in short that an early accession to the titles of my lord, or your grace, could not augur worse for him. But truth may be spoken injudiciously; and if Mr. Edgeworth's ideas allow him to admit a superiority of organization by which a boy early exhibits greater powers of attention, memory, and imagination-and that such natural advantages may be explicitly sated,' he admits in fact and substance, all that is meant by the ordinary expressions of natural parts, capacity or genius, which, mysterious' as they may be, we think not at all more delusive' than the version of them by organization;' whether that be understood of the soul itself, the external senses, or some intermediate nature.

No person of any reflexion will be abused at the present day by the puerile conceit that idleness is the privilege of any mind, however gifted it may be. If culture and severe application be the sole resources to which some have to trust, there is little difference in the need of them as the means of proficiency, to all. Without them, no vigour, nor certainty of effort; no excellence, no taste or practical ability is to be looked for. This warning truth cannot be repeated too often. Its opposite, the encouraging side of the same topic, viz. that well directed industry is able to countervail in almost every instance any disparity of intellect, is pushed by Mr. Edgeworth farther than we can venture to go with him. Educa

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