Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ing a deaf and dumb person to pronounce a word, causing him to make sounds at hazard, shaking your head at him ninety-nine times when he was wrong, and approving the hundredth, when by chance he got right. But I should

. weary your patience by pursuing this part of the subject, with which, as practical teachers, you must be more familiar than I am.

Thus, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have touched, in the most irregular and imperfect manner, upon various points of this vast subject; but how much have I left untouched ; how much might one insist upon the necessity of the teacher's considering that language is but the means to an end ; upon the superiority of having fifty ideas and one language in which to clothe them, rather than one idea and fifty languages in which to dress it : how much might be said upon the importance of considering grammar as being merely concerned in the form of the expression of our idea, and as being mainly useful in leading to logic, by which we test the truth of our ideas, and to rhetoric, by which we give the symmetry and coloring to the representation which we make of them.

But, above all, how much might be said upon the gratitude which we owe for this inestimable gift, and the responsibility which rests upon us for the right use and improvement of such a vast instrument of power : an instrument by which intellect sharpens intellect; by which every mental faculty is strengthened and improved, while it is improving others; by which the affections of the soul are spread out before those we love, and by which theirs are brought back to gladden our own; by which the deeds done on the uttermost parts of the earth, or in

ages long past, are brought to a focus beneath our eye ;by which the words and deeds of our fathers become our heritage, and by which we may transmit ours to our posterity ; by which, in a word, man communeth with man, nation is brought face to face with nation, and generation talketh freely with generation !

LECTURE III.

ON THE

GIRARD COLLEGE.

BY E. C. WINES.

The fickleness of fashion has long since passed into a proverb; yet in some things she has maintained a remarkable uniformity. The fashion of praising the days of our grandsires, and of bemoaning the degeneracy of our own times, seems to be as old almost as human society. The illustrious Hebrew sage and preacher,that keen observer of men and things,--administers a mild but pregnant rebuke to the carpers of his day : “Say not thou, what is the cause that the former times were better than these ? thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this.” But despite the incessant din of these sombre complainers, the progress of the human race, with some partial interruption, and with (it must be consessed) one long, universal, and dreary slumber, has been upward and onward. Consult the historic page; mark the monuments which the revolution of

has reared upon the globe ; survey the field of letters, science, art, philosophy, government, education, religion. What report do you bring thence concerning the retrogression or improvement of mankind ? Do you point me to an occasional mob; to the flames of a costly edifice, fired by bigotry, prejudice, or revenge ; to the agonies of a man, or a score of men, hurried into eternity by a lawless, violent, and bloody death? Do you call upon me to contemplate a confraternity of successful rogues and defaulters, rioting on the spoils of corruption, fraud, cunning, and treachery? Do you bid me mark the bitterness of sectaries, the envy of the great, the ambition of demagogues, the violence of party, and the deep heavings and mighty agitations of nations struggling to burst their fetters, and assert their rights? Do you show me these things, and call upon me to mourn over the decay of virtue, and the deterioration of the race ? Come, turn away from these dark lines. I admit and bewail their existence. But I will not gaze upon them exclusively nor chiefly, when there are lights, bright and cheering lights, as well as shadows, in the picture. Go visit the cell of the Monk of Erfurth, and trace from thence those mighty and benignant revolutions, whose seeds lay buried in that then terra incognita,—the Bible, which his noble spirit rescued from its dusty sepulchre. Beliold the Novum Organum of Bacon, and the wonders it hath wrought for science. See it tearing from the human intellect, like so many chords of gossamer, the fetters in which it had been held for ages, and bidding it go forth

ages

« AnteriorContinuar »