Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

to the utmost of their power, the faculties with which Provi: dence has blessed them, in order that the seeds of instruction may produce the most copious harvest of virtue, and their conscientious and able discharge of all the duties of life may contribute equally to the happiness of themselves and their friends, and to the general prosperity and true glory of their country

Learning our own Language,

See the Juvenile Instructer, Expositor, and Academician. 1. A good foundation in the general principles of grammar, is in the first place, necessary to all those who are initiated in a learned education ; and to all others likewise, who shall have occasion to earn modern languages. Universal grammar can. not be taught abstractedly: it must be taught with reference to some language already known, in which the terms are to be explained, and the rules exemplified. The learner is supposed to be unacquainted with all but his native tongue ; and in what other can you, consistently with reason and common sense, explain it to him? When he has a competent knowledge of the main principles of grammar, in general, exemplified in his own language, he then will apply himself with great advantage, to the study of any other. To enter at once upon the science of grammar, and the study of a foreign language, is to encoun. ter two difficulties together, each of which would be much lessened by being taken separately, and in its proper order.

2. For these plain reasons, a competent grammatical knowledge of our own language is the true foundation upon which all literature, properly so called, ought to be raised. If this method were adopted in our schools; if children were first taught the common principles of grammar, by some short and clear system of English grammar, which happily, by its simplicity and facility is perhaps fitter than any other language for such a purpose ; they would have some notion of what they were going about, when they should enter into the Latin grammar; and would not be engaged so many years as they now are, in that most irksome and difficult part of literature, with so much labour of the memory, and with so little assistance of the understanding.

3. Whatever the advantages or defects of the English langlage be, as it is our own language it deserves a high degree of our study and attention, both with regard to the choice of words which we employ, and with regard to the syntax, or the arrangement of those words in a sentence. We know how much the Greeks and the Romans, in their most polished and flourish,

ing times, cultivated their own tongues. We know how much study both the French and Italians have bestowed upon theirs. Whatever knowledge may be acquired by the study of other languages, it can never be communicated with advantage, except by such as can write and speak their own language well. Let the matter of an author be ever so good and useful, his compositions will always suffer in the public esteem, if his expression be deficient in purity and propriety.

4. At the same time the attaininent of a correct and elegant style is an object which demands application and labour. If any imagine that they can catch it merely by the ear, or acquire it by a slight perusal of some of our good authors, they will find themselves much disappointed. The many errours, even in point of grammar, the many offences against purity of language, which are committed by writers who are far from being contemptible, demonstrate that a careful study of the language is previously requisite, in all who aim at writing it properly.

5. These observations appear to determine conclusively, the subject which we have been discussing. They will suffice therefore, to prosz. that the application of a child to a dead language, before he is acquainted with his own, is a lamentable waste of time, and highly detrimental to the improvement of his mind.

6. The general principles of grammar are common to all languages; a noun is the same in English, French, Latio, Greek, &c. The variety of languages is easily acquired by observa. tion and practice, when a preliminary knowledge of our own graramar is obtained. But the comprehension of our native tongue is not the only good preparative for the study of other languages. Some previous acquaintance with the general nature of things, is necessary to the accomplishment of this end, that words may be the only obstruction in our literary progress. For, although it be useful to leave some difficulties in the way of a child, that he may exercise his mind in overcoming them, yet he must not be disgusted by too many or too great impediments. Our whole attention should consist in proportioning the difficulties to his powers, and in offering them to his consideration individually.

7. If Latin were made the primary object of a child's lessons he would lose a vast portion of time in the study of grammar ; he would be incapable of perceiving the beauties of that language, because he would not have acquired any previous knowledge. No benefit, therefore, could possibly accrue from reading, in the Latin tongue, subjects which he couldnot upderstand

in his own. But by becoming well acquainted with our best poets and prose-writers, he will easily learn, independently of the number of ideas, which he will gain thereby, the general rules of grammar; several examples will unfold them, and a proper application of others may be soon made without difficul. ty. Besides, he will acquire taste and judgment, and be well prepared to feel the beauties of a foreign tongue, when he begins to feel the beauties of his own. His knowledge being also extended and diversified, it will be found that the sole difficulty attendant on the study of Latin consists in learning words ; so that to obtain a just knowledge of things, he must apply himself to such Latin authors only as are within the reach of his capacity, and whose writings he can comprehend with the same facility as if they were written in his native language.

8. By this plan he will easily acquire the Latin tongue, treasure up fresh knowledge as he advances, and experience no disgust in the study of it. Nothing can be more useless than to fatigue a child, by filling his memory with the rules of a language which he does not yet understand. For, of what advantage is the knowledge of all its rules, if he be unable to apply them? We should wait, therefore, till reading has 'gradually enlightened his mind, and then the task becomes less irksome to him. When he has studied his own language, we should anticipate the principal differences between the Latin and English syntax. His surprise in perceiving an unexpected difference will excite his curiosity, and effectually remove all distaste. After this, and not before, he may devote a part of each day to Latin ; but it ought never to be the principal object of his studies.

9. Such is the outline of this plan of education, which has nature for its basis, and reason for its superstructure ; but such a plan, it must be granted, is not to be found in any of our seminaries of learning. Their system inverts knowledge; this proposes to make it orderly and progressive. Theirs is founded on precedent and long established usage ; this is recommended by its obvious utility and economy of time.

Female Education. 1. Ir education, in general, lies at the foundation of individual, domestic, and national happiness, this is especially the case with female education. It is a concern in which the highest interests of mankind are at stake. It involves the vital principles of social welfare. And according as it is attended to, or neglected ; according as it is wisely or erroneously pursued, will public or private happiness be nourished or poisoned at its root. Upon the education of woman it depends, under Divine Providence, whether she shall be the most useful, or the most mischievous of mortals ; whether she shall be the most valuable blessing of human society, or the most dreadful scourge of Almighty visitation. Solemn thought! How deeply ought the subject to engage the attention, to interest the heart, to excite the prayers, and to animate the diligence of every parent.

2. We are, perhaps, wiser than our fathers, in having learned to appreciate more justly than they did, the talents of women, and in devising plans of education better fitted to develope and improve these talents. But it is feared we fall below our venerable predecessors, in cultivating the moral and religious character of females, and in fitting them for some of the more useful and important duties of their sex.

When we learn, generally to correct this errour ; when we teach our daughters properly to estimate their true dignity, and diligently to pursue their real happiness, when we persuade them to reflect, that education consists not in the acquisition of dazzling and meretricious arts, but in preparing themselves to be respectable and useful wives, mothers, members of society, and christians, then, and not till then, may we hope to see the moral character of society raised, and the real importance of the female sex more justly estimated, and more duly honoured.

Monition to Children. 1. It is to little effect that moral instruction is conveyed to

if you, you

will neither listen to, nor observe the precepts which are recommended. You can give no better proofs of a docile temper, than by paying proper respect to those lessons which are calculated for the improvement, either of the faculties of the mind, or affections of the heart.

2. "Think not that the business of education is a hardship to which you are subject. It is intended solely for your benefit, and to instruct you in those virtues and accomplishments which will tend to make you good and happy, useful and agreeable. Consider, likewise, that your parents, by their conduct in this instance, are discharging that office which is incumbent on them.

Cour interest, therefore, and their duty, are sufficient inducements for the one to furnish the means of improvement, and for the others to be docile and obedient to their teachers.

3. Should you at any time receive reproof, though you may think yourselves then aggrieved, yet in the serious moments of

Q

6

reflection, when you will be more capable of judging from what motive, and to what purpose it was given, you will be affected by very different emotions, and will be thankful to

your

monitor. • Reproof,' says the wise man, gives wisdom, but a child left to himself, bringeth his mother to shame;' because in the early stage of life, children are chiefly under maternal care and tuition. To make them wise and good, they must not only be instructed in their duty, but be reproved and admoni ed, when they do wrong.. If left to their own wills, or suffered to follow their own inclinations, they will prove, as experience too evidently demonstrates, a disgrace to those by whose indulgence they were unrestrained.

4. You, therefore, who are blessed with good and pious parents, I would address in the words of Solomon—Children, keep the commandments of your father; and forsake not the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your hearts, and tie them about your necks. Whithersoever you go, they shall lead you ; when you sleep, they shall keep you; and when you awake, they shall talk with you.

5. Having thus considered the advantages of a docile temper, I shall conclude with a few observations on the best means of acquiring or improving it.' 6. The first thing necessary is, ATTENTION.

Without this, the most useful lessons of instruction will have but little effect on your minds. You can neither retain in memory that which :has been communicated to you, nor digest it afterwards. Your inattention will also be disrespectful to those who are delivering any discourse, or conveying any information which is intended for your improvement. If you aspire after knowledge you will listen to her voice; otherwise you will be even like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ears.' But whatever may be the mode of instruction or the object of it, without attention you can profit but little. No proficiency can be made in any course of study or learning, without application. Sufficient time is allowed you to relax your

minds ; but when you are employed on serious subjects, let not your thoughts be dissipated. Indulge not in careless indifference, because the business of edu. cation is a matter of great importance, and, therefore, requires the most constant assiduity.

7. The next thing I would recommend to you is, a seasonable taciturnity : without this, it is impossible you can give that degree of attention which is necessary. To be loquacious or talkative wbilst you are receiving instruction, denotes a frivolous mind, Silence is the first step to wisdom. It was held in

« AnteriorContinuar »