Imágenes de páginas

and disinfected by, the universality of good air. Only through youth can this purgation be wrought, and that, by bringing to bear on the young all the possible forces of education.

My friends, with just cause we rejoice in the rapid development and practical success of our public schools. But even greater cause of joy than is found in present fruits have they, who on that success build a higher hope, and believe, that our system of public instruction is yet in its infancy. In it there is latent an inexhaustible power of beneficence, strong and wide enough to embrace all the angelic legions of youth. The nucleus out of which can be evolved a complete apparatus of education, - as complete in the breadth of its application as in the perfection of its details, - we have in our Normal Schools, Institutions which, without being overbold, I will call the most productive in the State, and which therefore we cannot too cordially cherish.

Teachers, as well as poets and artists, are born. In laying the deep foundations for an ultimate harmonious society, Nature supplies in fitting measure the educators of youth. Make these schools for the education of teachers what they may be and ought to be, and into them you will attract those who feel themselves to be thus orgar.ically endowed. Like waters through the earth's bosom to a mountain spring, thither will they silently travel, and sparkle there, to issue thence in streams of pellucid life to the expectant fields where sprout the open, glad, soul-born wants of youth.

It seems a deplorable fact, that few parents are capable of bringing up children. I

say seems; for though a fact, it is not a deplorable fact: Nature has no deplorable facts of so large a compass. The deplorable part is, that from her palpable everrepeated lessons we will not learn; and taking the hint from this parental incapacity, provide much more fully and thoroughly for the education, especially the moral education, of all classes and ages of the young, from prattlers of three years to eager youths of twenty. Nature designs that most

and women shall be parents; but Nature does not fit most parents to be educators. Think you I am libelling parents, especially mothers, in thus denying to the majority of them the faculty to perform what is deemed their first duty ? Look into the circle of your acquaintance. Not one in three will you find capable of doing this duty, and not one who entirely does it. Those mothers who are naturally capable, are conventionally incapable through the pressure of other duties and occupations. I am not speaking of instruction, - all children are now sent to school, — but of personal discipline. The broad fact is, - especially in towns,

- that, for at least half the time, when not in school, the children of the rich and well to do are left to hirelings, the children of the poor are left to themselves. “The children of the poor," says Charles Lamb, “ are not brought up; they are dragged up.” The preservative and holy power of parental authority, in the cases where parents have the gift of moral education, is an intimation, a demonstration,

of what is possible, and prompts us to gather under the control of educators thus gifted all children. The few who bring to the school the good of benign home influence, will then find there that influence continued; while to the many it will be supplied.

Now, not a child, not one, has either the moral or intellectual culture whereof it is capable, and for which Nature gives it a craving. And if the most privileged have it not, cannot have it, what must be the deficiencies of the majority? If the well-watched, who are few, escape not temptations and noxious influences, what must be the exposure of the unwatched, who are nany ? Glance back, each of us, on our track from childhood into manhood, and the most favored will shudder at the precipices over which he has hung, at the cold, dreary, noisome passages through which he has groped. All this can be changed. To our children we can give securities, equipments, which ourselves have not had. An exalting thought it is, that man has such prolific conscious power, that he can make the future better than the past. The way to do this great thing, this greatest of things, is, more humanly to unfold the men of the future, that is, the children of to-day. Meet the demand they make on you. They implore you for protection, for guidance. They cry to you to feed their man hungers. With burning thirsts for knowledge, with godlike capacity of good, Nature gifts them. Second her benignant intents, by surrounding all children with the influences and appliances that

shall call out and exercise their vast and various powers in the order that God has stamped them. By means of schools of the right sort, and enough of them, you can do it. There should be schools, public schools, for the whole childhood and youth of every community; - schools, with corps of sufficient teachers, - graduates of Normal Schools, – whose inborn vocation it being to teach will themselves be happy in teaching, and thence, as a direct assured concomitant of their joy therein, will make their pupils happy, (that is, possessed by that deep moral content, which is at once the parent and child of good,) and who shall be so numerous and various, that supervision and subdivision shall be as complete as Nature wishes them to be ; -- schools, established in buildings planned with a full conviction of the all-importance of pure air, and of the need of many distinct compartments, furnished with the best apparatus, and, what is too much overlooked, made beautiful, inside and out,- for beauty is itself a mighty educator ; - schools, to which the inmates shall come earlier and stay later, and yet, from the alternations in intellectual exercise, and the wisdom in the modes and discipline, in doors and out, be never wearied; - schools, whose every moral and intellectual good that our children can take in, (and what a field this embraces,) they shall take in; and where the methods, by reaching the deep, beautiful possibilities of nature, should be so perfected, that to learn would be a daily, hourly pleasure, and therefore thoroughly profitable; schools, in which the growing mind shall dilate, as,

an ounce

delighted, it learns its responsible relations to the Universe, and, taught everywhere to discern Law, shall more and more, with its growing strength, feel and perceive the blessing of obedience to law, and thus, while intellectually illuminated with the highest light, be morally elevated, by being brought spontaneously to aspire towards the divine source of all law.

In the purification and pacification of society, such schools would outdo all your Legislatures, your Courts, your Prisons. They would undermine the grog-shop, the brothel, the jail. They would give a sublime illustration of the adage, of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Form the young, - that is, help them to put on the noble form whereof God has given them the affluent elements, - and you will not have to spend your substance in trying to reform the adult, through penitentiaries and treadmills.

Our life is a many-handed, many-minded work ; and of this immense work the outcome is, the vast sparkling fabric of present civilization. What work of Christian men can be so procreative, so beautifying, so solid, so hallowed, as work on the heirs of all our labors and our life? Round them gather hourly our hopes, our affections, our aspirations. Let our best intellect devise how best to unfold all their deep countless wealth.

Of a self-governable society a generous foresight is an inherent attribute. A genuine Republic, to maintain its genuineness, must purge and improve itself endlessly, ever stretching over the future a

« AnteriorContinuar »