« AnteriorContinuar »
a tenth part of our lives opght to be devoted to their acquisition, to enable us to appreciate those beauties. If human life extended to three thousand and ten, instead of three score and ten years, this argument might have some force; but as it is, we have no time to spare for such a purpose. We must test content with the beauties of modern languages, which, we dare say, are not less worthy of study and admiration. If they are, let us strive to improve them, instead of wasting our labour on dead tongues.
We know of no one sufficient argument for devoting so much time and attention to the classics; and as the public seem daily becoming of our way of thinking, some alteration on the system of education pursued in the High School will speedily be forced on the Town Council and teachers, whatever may be their own opinions of the matter.
SOCIETY FOR THE DIFFUSION OF MORAL AND ECONONICAL
From the Edinburgh Chronicle. The object of this Society is to incite the labouring classes to endeavour to gain, by the aid of lectures, a knowledge of the principles which will enable them to improve their own temporal condition, and increase their social happiness. In the School of Arts, lectures are delivered on Physical Science to the working classes; but there the moral and economical condition of man is not made a subject of study; In the Philosophical Association, this interesting department has occupied a large share of attention; but the fees are fixed at a rate which is beyond the means of most working men. This latter difficulty, the Society now come forward to remove, by placing that knowledge which tends most directly to enlighten the understanding, and improve the heart, within their reach ; and it has occurred to the Society, that 1500 or 2000 people contributing one penny weekly, might command lectures of the best deseription.
The lectures were commenced by James Simpson, Esq. advocate, and were to be continued weekly till the conclusion of the course. The sum for admission is one penny, and visitors of better circumstances are expected (although not exacted from them) to give sixpence.
The following is a brief outline of the first lecture:
Mr. Simpson announced, as a sort of text, that Knowledge is Power; and stated, that not only the present lecture, but the whole course of his intended instruction, nay, the whole reality of human affairs, will be found to offer a comprehensive commentary on that grand maxim--will, in every possible variety of aspect, only tend to show how, and why, and wherefore, that maxim is true. Bacon says that man would mould events to his purposes, if he could but know the combinations of circumstances which constitute the causes of events. Mr. Simpson familiarly illustrated the maxim, by showing how by degrees man obtained the knowledge that gave the power of navigating the
This he did by an amusing description of the supposed first attempts of the inhabitants of Lothian to cross to Fife. He explained the term Nature as not only the works but the ways of the Creator, and begged his audience ever to bear in mind that Nature, although a convenient and reverent term, is only another word for God. Nature, he proceeded to show, is uniform in its operations, for Nature is the work of Him“ in whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning." There is no such prodigy as a variation from Nature, if we ever saw one, for exceptions are only seeming, and themselves examples of invariable causes not at the moment observed by us. We trust to this uniformity in every thing we do. This uniformity is called Nature's Law, branched off into laws as innumerable as are Nature's operations. Knowledge
is the ascertainment of these laws. They are Physical, Organic, and Intelli. gent. The Earth moving round the Sun in a fixed orbit is a physical law. Our buildings, our bodies, are attracted to it by a physical law. Mr. Simpson here created much mirth by an anecdote of the want of knowledge on this important point of a young woman, who had made up her mind to go to Van Dieman's Land, and no entreaties of her friends could alter her colonizing resolution. She was one morning informed that the world is as round as her pincushion, the inhabitants representing the pins stuck all round: she learned, on farther inquiry, that Van Dieman's Land was quite on the other side; and she at once saw that if her head is upwards here, it must be downwards there, and that she must walk like a fly on the ceiling: All arguments had failed, but this argument of her own furnishing prevailed; she gave up the idea of going to Van Dieman's Land, and is yet walking about in Scotland with her head in its due position. Mr. Simpson's exposition of the organic laws was equally clear and amusing. He showed by many familiar, and some ludicrous, examples, how necessary it is to know and obey all these laws. Broken bones, and worse, follow disobedience to the physical laws,-safety, and comfort, and luxury, from compliance with them. Disease, in all its forms of suffering, comes from violation of the organic laws, and health and all its happiness from obedience. Our ancestors suffered by agues from undrained lands, scurvy from ill-salted and half-putrid meat, and leprosy from filth of body and dwellings (for Libberton, where the leprous were sent, was really Lippertown). Plague scourged them by frequent returns. Edinburgh swarmed with swine and dunghills. These were statedly removed by proclamation, for the riding of the Parliament; and James VI., when courting in Denmark, wrote an anxious letter to the Provost, to have them cleared away for his Queen, and the great Danish Lords who were coming with him. He dwells much upon the specific abomination, and returns to it in a truly royal postscript:" P.S. Mind the swine, and dinna forget the middens.” As the hour was expired, beyond which the Lecturer said he never would go, he was forced to postpone the intellectual and moral laws, the most interesting of all, till the lecture of the following week.
At the conclusion of Mr. Simpson's lecture, Mr. Sidney Smith gave an explanation to the meeting of the objects of this Society, of which the following is the substance:
“ The genius of knowledge and of philosophy,” he said, “is essentially democratic—it can be confined within no magic circle—it can be comprehended within the limits of no class—it ought to be as free as the air we breathe, and as common as the water we drink; because it is another name for truth—and truth is as common as nature, and nature is universal. Our object has been to break down the barriers which have hitherto kept the people from those great truths which were created for their happiness. The views of the Society coincided with those so eloquently illustrated by Mr. Simpson. We want the people to be powerful—we know that they can only be powerful by the possession of knowledge—we feel that that alone is knowledge which leads to social happiness, and we know that there is no other avenue to happiness than through the gates of virtue. It is to open these gates, not to the peer in his chariot, nor to the squire on his steed merely, but to the crowd of weary and way-faring pedestrians, that this Society is instituted : or its object is rather to furnish them with a key by which they may open it for themselves, and to make them independent of those sleepy and sluggish instructors, who have hitherto kept the porter's lodge, and who are not to be awakened and called to the door by any sounds but the stamping of the horses and the rolling of the wheels of the rich man's coach. A knowledge of physical science is not enough for securing happiness, and consequently, our first object has been to procure for our fellow-citizens lectures upon moral science, to afford them a knowledge of the constitution of their minds; of the nature of human passions, sentiments, and intellectual faculties; of the laws upon which their proper regulation and modification depend; of their relation to external nature, and to social duty and happiness; of the mutual influence of our merely physical and our mental constitutions; and of the principles of Education which are deducible from these considerations. If these lectures meet with a favourable reception, above all, if they strike root in your hearts, you shall not want, because we shall show you that you have the means of procuring instruction at the same and even a smaller rate in all the useful and instructing sciences. By assembling in great numbers, and contributing the small sum of a penny, you may command the services of the most eminent lecturers, upon the equitable and independent principle of a bargain. Even, although persons could be procured who would lecture to you for nothing, it would not be acting independently on your part to accept of his services on such terms; and it would not be just in him, because he could afford to give them gratis, to undersell other men of great merit, but less independent in their circumstances.
“When Mr. Simpson was requested to lecture for this Society, he wished to stipulate that the lectures should be given without any charge on his part; but we feel convinced that you will approve of our resolution, which was that he should be remunerated for his labour as a measure of plain justice to other lecturers. One important reason for doing so was, that unless he were regularly paid, it would have been impracticable for us to have demonstrated to you that you were enabled to pay for and command the services of lecturers upon whatever science you chose, and to select them for yourselves. All surplus funds, after defraying expenses, which the lectures may yield, shall be applied in procuring other lectures—in still further, if practicable, reducing the price of admission-in republishing, at a cheap rate, useful books for distribution amongst you, and in extending, by every practicable means, the principles by which we profess to be regulated. If any profit is to be derived from the lectures, the Society are pledged to apply them exclusively for your benefit; and if there be any loss, it will be sustained cheerfully by them, as a small sacrifice in so good a cause.”
PROGRESS OF BOTANY,
It is pleasing to trace out the progress of knowledge—to catch a glimpse of the nothingness from which systems and sciences have emanated, particularly of such as now occupy the first attention of naturalists and philosophers. The following observations from No. 121 of Maund's Botanic Gardener, shows how rapidly the source of motion has advanced within the last two centuries--since the days of Tournefort, the highly-celebrated French botanist. Tournefort, Mr. Maund observes, “ was born in 1656, and his method of botanical classification was esteemed as far superior to anything that had preceded.” He, however, was strenuously opposed to the doctrine of the sexes of the plants. The farina, which we now know posseses important functions, he even conceived to be excrementitious. At this period it should be observed, a vague notice only of the functions of the parts on fructification existed. Botanists, up to the 16th century, had made no advance in knowledge on this subject from the time of the ancient Heroditus and Theophrastus. It remains for our own countrymen now to enlighten the world on the subject of vegetable production. Ile applied his attention and his microscope to the mysteries of vegetation, and exhibited to the world its economy as connected with the functions of the parts of fructification. Although he had
no actual demonstration of the fact, he was fully convinced that the farina or pollen was not a useless product, but essential to the fertilization of the seeds. Tournefort's classes were on the figure of the petals of flowers, hence he had bell-shaped, funnel-shaped, cross-shaped, lip-shaped, and others, several of which modern botanists find to be perfectly natural divisions. Linnæus began life as a botanist on Tournefort's system, and although he discarded it in his artificial arrangement, much of it may be discovered in his fragments of a natural method. On Linnæus's fragments Tessieu built his more perfect orders, which, improved by modern science, constitute the natural classification as now advocated by many eminent botanists.
SAILORS' FEMALE ORPHAN SOCIETY.
We are happy to state, that through the indefatigable exertions of Mr. Thos. How, of Fore Street, one hundred new annual subscribers (of 2s. 6d. and upwards) to this Institution have been obtained since the Tea Meeting seven weeks ago; an instance of success in individual exertion not often exceeded. We would, however, still recommend this Society to the public notice, as one of the most worthy and the most needing their support. Further subscriptions are still required, which will be thankfully received, on behalf of the orphans, by Mr. How, 14, Fore Street.
EDUCATION OF THE ARISTOCRACY. On the first glance at the occupation of pupils in our public schools, every one is struck with the strange, not to say absurd, spectacle of young Englishmen being engaged from morning to night, through a succession of eight or ten years, in learning the language, manners, geography, and antiquities of Athens and Rome, communities long ago extinct, and having but a very remote analogy to the political and social state of their own country. When this system was first introduced into our schools and colleges, at the revival of letters, and even so late as the end of the seventeenth century, such a system of Education was defensible, on the principle of utility, and almost on that of necessity. All liberal knowledge, all scientific treatises, and almost every thing that was elegant in polite literature and in works of the imagination, were comprised in the Roman and Greek languages, while all the intercourse of literature and diplomacy was maintained in the Latin, as the universal language. These languages, therefore, formed the indispensible basis, and even an integral and important portion of the superstructure of a liberal and practical education. But who at this day would think of having recourse to Aristotle, Theophrastus, or Pliny, for the study of natural history; to Cato, Varra, and Virgil, for a knowledge of agriculture; to Hippocrates, Celsus, and Galen, for instruction in materia medica and surgery; to Archimedes, Theodosius, and Diophantes, for mathematics; or to Plato, Cícero, and Xenophon for the science of government and politics; and so entirely has the Latin language ceased to be the medium of scientific and diplomatic communication, that it is rare to hear now even of a private correspondence being maintained by learned individuals of different nations, on any literary subject in that language. The very foundations, therefore, of utility and necessity, on which the present system was built, have either been washed away by the lapse of time, or overlaid by the improvement and discoveries introduced by more recent diligence and genius.-- British and Foreign Review.
THE QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF EDUCATION, It is with considerable regret that we learn from the Number of this excellent publication now before us, that it will be its last Number. This Journal has now existed five years, and has been conducted with considerable learning and talent; and, although one of the least successful of the Society's publications, has perhaps been productive of more sterling value than any of them. It is a disgrace to the scholastic profession in this country, that such a publication should not be supported. Its object must necessarily be one of improvement, it must expose errors and abuses, it must aim at making things better than it finds them; and in doing this, it must war upon old prejudices, and all the interests bound up with them. Under these circumstances, and from the difficulty of obtaining writers, the sentiments of the contributors often spoke too free a language, and have often been considered political, and not a little irreligious, from cautiously (too cautiously perhaps) abstaining from the consideration of religious questions. But this had nothing to do with its want of support, the cause lies far deeper : it lies in the apathy of the public on the great question of Education, and the determination of those in high places to let things go on in their old way. Another cause for the small circulation of this work has been the great length of its learned criticisms, and the want of sufficient skill to make a dry subject in some degree interesting. It could not be from its want of a party—it bad its party, and was the organ of its party in educational matters—but it sinks because its own party are not those who have education on their hands, and because no other party will be reasoned out of their opinions; while, on the other hand, that party who ought to have supported it, lie not mainly among the influential and the rich, but among the middle ranks, who had no appreciation of its importance or its high value. While the Journal of Education existed, it would have been our wish to have followed in its wake, and to have roused the middle classes; and, without any pretensions either to its learning or its talent, to have done our best to have offered sound views regarding Education, where, not more from its high price than from its high character and just pretensions, the Journal of Education would not have found its way. We consider, therefore, the loss of the Journal of Education to our periodical literature, to be a great one, and one which the public must feel, although they may not be able to appreciate the full extent of it. We need not say that it will be our anxious endeavour to supply that loss as far as our talents and means will allow us; although we are sensible we shall not be able to press into our service the same degree of information and intelligence as has characterised that journal since its commencement. It will be our object to enlarge the Educational Magazine—to make it more fully what its title imports it to be-a Journal of Public Utility—to press into its pages all that can improve and all that can interest the public mind, not only on the question of Education itself, but on the still broader question, viz. on all that can be of importance to man, as a religious, as a moral, and as an organized being. It will be our object to make it the text-book of every well-ordered family, as well as to promote, through its pages, the well-ordering of the school-room. We shall endeavour to make it a journal in which the public itself shall be interested—to make it the focus of all intelligence connected with the progress of man-a journal of that kind of practical science which materially affects the well-being, not only of the community, but of the individual : and this we would do upon the principles of the Christian religion, unconnected with any religious sect, but strictly consistent with the word of Divine Truth. We would wish the Educational Magazine to be a religious publication, in the fullest sense of the word-a work in which the Christian may look with confidence; and which shall support, with all its might and means, Religious Education, Religion and Intelligence, and Mental and Religious Liberty, at all times and on all occasions.