Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

and hope, and be honored with distinguished rewards among those who have done well, in the great day of account. The character presented, I am aware, is not altogether in keeping with modern taste and refinement. It has too much of the industrial, the economical, the solid, intelligent, and useful, to be pleasing to “this world's gay triflers.” But I would not alter a single feature in it to gratify the taste of such triflers. The character I have sketched for the imitation of my fair auditors will last, be approved, admired, and loved, a source of pure, permanent enjoyment and hope, when all that is possessed by the gay and the giddy beauty, wit and outward embellishments, shall be found utterly vain and worthless.

No greater blessing could I wish for the daughters of America, than that they should be adorned with the character of the virtuous woman. Let them take the advice of the excellent Henry before adverted to, -"Open this looking-glass for ladies, and dress themselves by it; and if they do so, their adorning will be found to praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

LECTURE II.

THE DUTIES

OF

EXAMINING COMMITTEES.

By PROF. E. D. SANBORN.

In the mind of every enlightened patriot, the elevation of our Common Schools is, intimately, associated with the progress of society and the perpetuity of our cherished institutions. It is now an admitted fact — the voice of history proclaims it — that NewEngland owes her unparalleled prosperity to the early establishment of free schools and churches in the British colonies. For this labor of love and patriotism we venerate the memory of our fathers. We look upon the Common School System, which they established, as among the richest legacies they have

We are now convinced that our success, nay more, our very existence as a free people, depends

left us.

upon the preservation and improvement of this priceless inheritance. The highest degree of civilization results from the union of piety and intelligence. Learning has ever been, and must ever continue to be, the handmaid of religion. Wherever they are divorced, the common mind becomes degraded, and religion degenerates into bigotry or superstition. Wherever free schools and free churches have been established among the nations of Europe, their influence is exhibited in the superior intelligence and thrift of the people. Catholic and Protestant countries, lying side by side, resemble the divisions of Egypt occupied by the Egyptians and Israelites of old. In the Goshen of Protestant Europe there is light; in Catholic Egypt, darkness, gross darkness, darkness that may be felt, covers the people. The great principles which Luther advocated, liberty to think and liberty to read, are felt in every department of business and of state ; in the public marts and in the family circle; in the consecrated church and at the domestic altar. The intelligent traveller reads the history of educated, enfranchised mind in the culture of the very soil on which he treads, in the structure of the houses and the costume of the inhabitants. In every country, the school-house and church edifice are the true indices of national prosperity. Where these buildings are suffered to decay and to become untenantable, no enlightened adventurer will seek a settlement. It is becoming the popular sentiment of New-England, that it is better economy to build commodious school-houses and

churches than spacious poor-houses and penitentiaries; better to pay teachers and school-superintendants, than judges and executioners. If we neglect our schools, we must enlarge our prisons; if we refuse to pay teachers we must pay officers of justice. Crime and ignorance are ever associated. Education, while it elevates and refines man's inferior nature, at the same time guides and restrains it. It is not pretended that education possesses any regenerating power. Its influence is chiefly preventive. It makes men prudent, not holy. It checks the natural propensities to evil, and fosters the amiable virtues. It begets a fear of legal penalties, and strengthens respect for law. It teaches the duties and responsibilities of a citizen. It reveals to him the inestimable value of a spotless reputation, and begets an abhorrence of perfidy and meanness. In a word, it is the voice of one crying in the wilderness of human passions,

prepare ye the way of the Lord.” It is the herald of the religion of Christ; and, like that same heavenborn religion, is designed for the poor.

The free schools of New England are, to her, a crown of glory. The domestic circle and the common-school are the chief agents of New-England education. Under such influences are reared those men whose industry every where gives variety and beauty to the NewEngland landscape, and whose enterprise is limited only by burning sands and polar snows.

In the same hallowed circles are trained those minds whose wisdom guides the councils of this great and growing people. The regulation and management of this

system of instruction, so wide, so expansive in its influence, embracing the best interests of our citizens for time and eternity, are, in a great measure, entrusted by law to the discretion of the superintending committees of the several towns. In most instances they examine and approbate teachers, prescribe books, supervise the schools, and report their doings to their constituents at the close of their official year. Of the duties and responsibilities of such committees, I propose to speak. The office is an important one, and requires qualifications of a high order. Every man who is called to examine teachers, ought, in the first place, to be thoroughly acquainted with the most approved methods of teaching the several branches of an elementary education. Το say the least, he should carefully inform himself respecting the improvements introduced by experienced teachers, since the completion of his own scholastic studies. Within the last twenty years, the whole process of organizing, disciplining and instructing the District School, has been essentially modified, as we trust, for the better. The character of common schools has been elevated. Higher branches of study are now pursued. Economy of time and labor has been sought by the introduction of new processes of teaching and classification. Many simple and convenient articles of apparatus have been employed for illustrating the branches taught. The committee should be familiar with these facts. Such knowledge is essential to a correct judgment of the qualifications of the teacher and the progress of the school.

« ForrigeFortsæt »