« AnteriorContinuar »
sciously drawn, the portraiture of the writer himself who so eloquently expresses it:
In that year (1349) died of the plague Giovanni Villani, our guide hitherto, and one than whom we shall have no better amongst those who have written the story of our nation's fortunes. We have seen how Villani was present at Palagio, nearly sixty years before, on the day of the battle of Campaldino; he continued his historical narrative up to the termination of his life. Contemporary with Dante Alighieri, his character was formed in the great school of the thirteenth century; hence the lofty rectitude which dominates his judgments, and that composition of thought, at the same time bold and modest, which is the index, not of easy times and tranquil existence, but rather of souls having confidence in themselves and internal peace. Giovanni was of the number of those buoni uomini he had so often brought upon the scene, who laid the foundations of a liberty made possible by them. selves alone, and who maintained it amid the shocks of ambitions ; peaceful and strong because they sought the common good along with their own good, and Truth always, in everything.' (Vol. i. p. 219.)
Such too, we now say, was Gino Capponi. He, and the lamented Rossi, were the two men who in these our times have alone represented the antique grandeur of the highest order of the Italian character and intellect. Their style, their manners, their principles had something of the severe dignity of the past; nothing of the Gallic frivolity of modern Italy: and it gives us the greatest satisfaction that a work of so high an order as this History should be among the first fruits of the regenerated kingdom. We learn with pleasure that a translation of it into English is in preparation. The task is a great and difficult one—but not unworthy of an accomplished pen.
tion, the auspices of can, on Wedand. An Addr.
ART. VIII–1. First, Second, and Third Reports of the Royal
Commissioners appointed to inquire into Endowed Schools
and Hospitals. (Scotland.) 1873–5. 2. Report on the State of Education in the Burgh and Middle.
class Schools in Scotland. By THOMAS HARVEY, M.A., and A. C. SELLAR, M.A., Assistant Commissioners appointed by the Royal Commission on Education in Scotland. Vol. II.
Special Reports, 1868. 3. The Higher Education of Scotland. An Address delivered
in the New Hall, Oban, on Wednesday, November 3, 1875, under the auspices of the Oban Scientific and Literary Association. By ALEXANDER CRAIG SELLAR, M.A., Advocate,
one of the Endowed Schools (Scotland) Commissioners. 4. The Arts Faculties in the Scottish Universities. An Address
delivered to the Graduates in Arts in the University of Edinburgh, on Wednesday, April 21, 1873. By W. Y. SELLAR,
Professor of Humanity in the University. 5. Our Secondary Education and some of its recent Critics :
being Remarks on Entrance Examinations. In substance delivered at the Meeting of Glasgow University Council, October 27,1875. By John HUTCHISON, M.A., one of the Classical
Masters in the High School of Glasgow. 6. Suggestions as to Amendment of the Education (Scotland)
Act, 1872. A Paper read at the Educational Congress, held in Glasgow, Dec. 29, 1875. By the Rev. JOHN STARK.
Duntocher. It has often been our fate to express, in these pages, a more 1 or less qualified sympathy with schemes, of the possible, or, at all events, of the probable, realisation of which we did not affect to conceal our distrust. But here is a scheme with which we sympathise altogether, and which, at no very distant period, will certainly be realised. The people of Scotland have long been conscious of the existence of grave defects in their secondary school system, and they give unmistakable indications of having at last determined that these defects shall be remedied.
When the people of Scotland determine 'to set a stout heart to a stye brae,' we all know what that means; and if the enterprise to which they have now put their shoulder were a far more difficult one than it is, we should not hesitate as to its success. The defects to be remedied are obvious and acknowledged, and the means of remedying them are assuredly within
the reach, if they are not already in the hands, of those most interested in the work.
There is not even very much difference of opinion as to the application of the means, or the order in which they are to be called into play. When the dust shall have cleared away which class feelings and local jealousies inevitably raise when any question of national importance is stirred, and the community of interests and sympathies which bind all classes and localities together shall have come fully into view, we believe that a very unusual concurrence of opinion will be manifested in favour of the recommendations contained in the able and judicious Report which we propose to examine in this article. Compliance with the general will, in such circumstances, will be dictated by the instinct of self-preservation to whatever government may be in power. The Lord Advocate will - see his way' to something more effectual than ' giving power to local bodies " and trustees to adapt the management of the institutions under their control to the circumstances and wants of the present time, and—an executive Commission will be appointed.
But though, with the light which the Commissioners have thrown upon it, we think we can see our way'to the speedy and complete solution of the problem which has arisen out of the present condition of the secondary instruction in Scotland, there is certainly something in its existence that is startling and even mysterious.
Of the classes into which all advanced communities, whatever their political organisation may be, inevitably divide themselves, the most self-helping is, what in this country is called, the upper "middle-class.' Relieved from the enervating influences of luxury, on the one hand, and the depressing influences of poverty, on the other: conscious that its retention of the advantages which it enjoys is still dependent on the mental activity by which they were gained : and keenly alive to æsthetic and intellectual pleasures : the upper middle-class seems the least likely of all to neglect its own educational concerns. Nor is there anything to interfere with this natural result of the circumstances of the class in any specialties which belong to its position in Scotland. On the contrary, from the extent to which the highest stratum of Scottish society has become denationalised by English influences, Scotland has gone into the hands of this very class, more than was the case formerly, or is now the case in other countries. It is in its members that the intellectual life of Scotland, in so far as it possesses any distinctive characteristics, finds its expression. They are the representatives of its literature, its philosophy, and its art; and
they have kept a distinctive place for it, in all these respects, very fairly alongside of the rest of the world. Yet no fact is more certain than that, for a century and a half, the scholastic education of this class has been a miserable scramble, in which the deficiencies of the national institutions have been partially supplied to the community generally, by an unnatural alliance between the elementary schools and the universities, whilst the children of the wealthy have been educated by private tutors, at adventure schools, and schools established for denominational purposes, or sent away to England as if their parents had been squatters in New Zealand, or missionaries in Africa.
"By what series of causes the interests of the Scottish schoolboy came thus to be neglected, and the bridge which once carried him, and still carries other schoolboys, over the chasm which divides their education as children from their education as students, was broken down, is an inquiry which we do not feel called upon to prosecute. But, accustomed as the people of Scotland are to fix their attention, with some complacency, on their elementary schools and universities, which they have kept fairly abreast of the growing prosperity of the country, it may not be amiss that we should remind them, somewhat more pointedly than the Commissioners have done, of the national degeneracy, not relative only but absolute, which has taken place in the very important direction of the middle schools. If, in a given community, institutions of a certain class have never existed, we may reconcile ourselves to their absence, on the ground that they are not suited to the genius of the people ; and hope that some substitute may be found for them. But if these very institutions were a somewhat special product of the land, in earlier and poorer times, and if the people have begun to neglect them just when they were most wanted, and when their ability to support them had enormously increased, the fact is one which the existing generation may well take to heart. It is bad enough to have fallen behind others, but it is shameful indeed if, in such circumstances, we have fallen behind ourselves.
The Commissioners tell us that grammar schools have existed in most of the burghs for several centuries;' and that the parochial schools may have originally been formed
on the model of the old grammar schools of the burghs.' * The statement is true; but it does not convey the whole truth, or even state it very accurately. It is only when we turn to the Special Report, vol. ï., on the state of education in
prodo. But it and hope that the
* Third Report, p. 99.