Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of the great and leading events in the whole progress of the history of the world, to teach his pupils to trace effects to their causes, to hold up to their view in their true colours the characters of which the pencil of history has not always exhibited a faithful delineation, to deduce from what is usually narrated some lessons of wisdom, and not unfrequently to furnish some critical remarks upon the most celebrated historians.

In Natural Philosophy he was for some years compelled to use, as his principal work, Nicholson's Introduction; but afterwards he found the Scientific Dialogues, by Mr. Joyce, of greater service, as they require no more mathematical knowledge then he thought it necessary or proper to give his pupils. Fourcroy's elegant Treatise on the Philosophy of Chemistry, furnished him with the leading principles of that extensive and ever-varying science. Locke's Essay was his text book upon the subject of the human mind; and Paley and Priestley supplied him with the foundation of his instructions in morals and the evidences of natural and revealed religion.

H

The Lectures of Blair afforded him some little aid in the different branches of the Belles Lettres ; but he did not confine himself to these. Scarcely a day passed in which he did not read with his pupils the best translations of the Greek and Roman poets, or our own classical writers both in verse and prose; his original remarks on which were adapted to convey much information upon subjects of polite literature, to improve the judgnient, and. to correct the taste.

In teaching Grammar he found it necessary to put into the hands of his pupils established and popular works upon the subject; such as the introduction by the late Bishop of London, and the Grammar and Exercises compiled by the excellent and judicious Mr. L. Murray. To these he afterwards added the small, but very ingenious and useful work of Mr. Dalton, of Manchester. But upon this, as upou every other branch of instruction, he coinmunicated much original information. To the subject of Universal Grammar he had given all the attention it so justly claims from the philosopher no less than the instructor of youth; he had embraced with full conviction

the principles. so ably unfolded and established in the Diversions of Purley; and by means of that habit of easy and luminous arrangement which he bad acquired in the pursuit of natural history, he discovered some principles which had escaped the , sagacity of others, and threw much light upon points which are generally acknowledged to be involved in obscurity. From his imperfect recollection of the substance of many conversations, the writer of this memoir cannot but feel regret that other occupations, and the growing infirmities of age prevented his late friend from making some of his opinions, on these subjects, more generally known.

His method of teaching Geography was peculiarly excellent. It requires but little experience in the business of education, to be fully convinced that the systems of geography which are commonly compiled for the use of instructors and their pupils, are of comparatively small value, conveying partial or erroneous information, and in a manner by no means adapted to impress what may be deserving of remembance, upon the mind.

H 2

[ocr errors]

They are generally either mere tables, designed to be learnt by rote, or tables accompanied by a mass of ill-digested, and often incorrect details of natural history, civil history, statistics, &c. &c. or elegant dissertations suited to the proficient, rather than to the learner of the science. These, therefore, Mr. Wood rejected, and formed for himself a plan which was admirably adapted to render this branch of knowledge as interesting as it is useful, and to convey the most important information in such a manner as to imprint it indelibly upon the memory. Geography, he observed, in the strictest sense of the word, signifies a description of the earth, including its general form, and the divisions which have been made upon its surface, either by the hand of nature or by the institutions of men. His first object, therefore, agreeably to this definition, was to make his pupils accurately acquainted with the part which nature had performed. With a map of the world before him, he pointed out to them the four great receptacles of all the waters which diversify and fertilize the surface of the earth; he then traced every smaller subordinate

receptacle or basiu formed by the confluence of many streams, and falling generally through one mouth into the ocean, and from the character and situation of these, he taught his pupils how to judge of the other patural features of the globe, such as the elevation of the land, and the course which that elevation follows. In a similar manner he traced the most prominent characters by which every separate region of the earth has been marked by the hand of nature. But Geography is a term capable of a more general signification, according to which this science comprehends an account of the soils of the earth and its inhabitants, whether rational or irrational. These indeed properly belong to the province of natural history, yet it appeared to him as part of the business of a teacher of geography, neglecting their division into classes, orders, genera and species, to point out the countries in which they respectively prevail, and to direct his pupils to such as were distinguished by their usefulness or rarity; and so far and no farther he appeared to them as a Mineralogist, a Botanist, and a Zoologist. Mankind, however, claimed a larger share of his attention;

« AnteriorContinuar »