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He is a citizen, like ourselves. And if the command of Omnipotence has not been heard in his own breast ; if conscience does not bear rule within him, our presidents and governors may order him to the scene of peril, as they will ; their mandates will be uttered to the dashing waters. Education must make this the burden of her labors. If we would have the nation well ruled, the man must rule himself. If the man is to be self-governed, woe to us if this work be not commenced and carried steadily forward in the child.
BY WILLIAM H. WOOD..
The work of education is the most important charge committed to man's trust. To you, Gentlemen of the Institute, who have maturely considered the subject, this statement will doubtless appear an indisputable truth; and yet it is a truth which is far from being universally admitted. The reason of this may be found in the fact, that very
few entertain correct views as to what education is. So limited are the views generally entertained on this subject, that the word education, when presented to the mind, calls up no other ideas than the elements of knowledge, in which our children are instructed in the school-room and at the seminary. With the mass of our
people, education is instruction,-instruction addressed to the intellect,--a conveyance of knowledge to the mind. With these views, they acknowledge the importance of education, and are warmly attached to our school system, which is the means of dispensing to all the elements of knowledge, and of diffusing life and energy into all our population. Yet when they hear one discoursing in glowing eloquence upon the blessings which education can impart, they listen with skepticism, for they see not those blessings flowing from the system of education which they have in view, the effects of which they see and experience. They cannot fail to see, that the education of the school has comparatively little direct influence in forming the character of the child. It in a measure developes bis intellect, it gives him the instruments for the acquisition of knowledge, and there its influence for good generally stops. Before, therefore, that interest can be awakened in the community, which the importance of the subject demands,what education is,-its nature,--the end it has in view,the results which it promises to effect, must be made to stand out in bold relief before the people, that they may view it in all its proportions.
Look at the infant as it comes from the hands of its Maker. Although so feeble, and distinguished from the lower orders of animals only by its greater helplessness, there are in connection with that little form the
of immortal powers. Its position is one of the deepest interest. As it stands thus upon the threshold of its being, cast your mind forward, and as you number its years mark out its destiny. Shall that little body, that harp of a thousand strings, formed by its Creator with such curious and exquisite workmanship, fulful the end which its Creator intended, be always kept in tune, its every vibration giving joy and delight to its possessor ? Shall that form be clothed with the strength and dignity of an A pollo, or with the grace and beauty of a Venus de Medicis ? Shall glowing health mantle the cheek and course through all the veins, conveying life and energy to every function, and giving only happiness to the inhabitant within ?
Or shall the body be only a lurking place for disease in all its Protean forms,—the dimmed eye, the pallid cheek, the heaving breast, marking the progress of that destroyer who never leaves his victim, but “tracks him on through every avenue of life?” Shall those nerves thrill with anguish,-shall those limbs writhe in agony?
Or, leaving the casket, look at the gem which it contains. Consider the intellectual powers. Shall those powers be developed in their just proportions ? Shall the treasures of science lie open to their view ? Shall they be able to glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,” and pierce into the secrets of nature ? Shall they be able to trace the labyrinths of thought and give laws to the mind, trace effects to causes, and usurp dominion over the powers of nature ? Shall reason dive into the depths of the earth to explore its hidden recesses, or mount up into the heavens, “amid the starry dance," and weigh the planets in a balance, and give laws to all their movements,--or, continuing still onward in its flight, pass beyond the confines of our own mament,” and take “ the gauge and dimensions" of other firmaments in the far off regions of space ?