« ForrigeFortsæt »
ORE DOLLAR A YEAR.
NEW SERIES-PUBLISHED MONTHLY.
PAYABLE IN ADVANCE.
EDITED BY A. B. STREET, $. S. RANDALL AND JAS. HALL.
BY S. S. RANDALL.
(NUMBER 5. Common Schools and District Libraries,
tax upon the property of the State. Failing in the accomplishment of these favorite objects, they are pre
pared at once, and without compunction or reserve, to We have thought it due, not only to the importance dispense entirely with the common school system-to of the subject, but to the very intelligent and respecta. pull down the whole fabric of elementary public inble gentlemen of the county of Orange who have united struction—to disband the eleven thousand school disin a recent movement in that section of the State on tricts of the State—and “at one fell swoop” to annihithe subject of our Common School Laws, to transfer late the results of nearly half a century of public and from the columns of the District School Journal the private exertion for the advancement of popular educafollowing review of the peculiar grounds of hostility to tion, the elevation of public morals, the diffusion of the theory and practical operations of our existing sys- useful knowledge, and the extension of christian civilitem of public instruction, which have been assumed byzation. Have these men, indeed, “ counted the cost” its opponents.
of such an abandonment of our long tried, thoroughly If we understand aright the positions occupied by this tested and laboriously compacted system of common portion of our fellow-citizens, they are these: They school education ? Have they cast an inquiring and an would have the Legislature increase the fund annually intelligent glance at the past-dispassionately surveyed to be distributed among the several school districts, for the present in all its aspects—and carried forward their the payment of teachers wages, first by taking from the views to the possible-nay, probable, future? Have Literature Fund, the chief portion of the existing an- they in imagination “ congregated around the temple of nual appropriation to colleges and academies, and diverto legislation the six hundred thousand children of the ing it into this channel. Second, by the application of
ate, with their innocent smiles, beaming with ardent the present School District Library Fund, to the same
hopes and high aspirations, hungering and thirsting after purpose : and thirdly, by a similar application of the knowledge, and submissively lifting up their little hands various amounts now paid towards the compensation of in silent supplication for kind and competent instructors, county superintendents, the subscription to an educa. for comfortable apartments, and for all the appliances tional journal, and the expenses of a State Normal which would enable them to discover and obey the laws School. These various appropriations would increase of the Creator ?" Have they weighed the tremendous the amount annually distributed to the several districts responsibility involved in this parracidal desertion of a for this purpose, by the sum of about $130,000. And policy which formed the corner-stone of the civilization by the addition of a corresponding amount, to be raised introduced by the Pilgrim Fathers of our beloved coun. by taxation in the several counties, (leaving out of view try, – a policy co-eval with its earliest settlementthe amount already required to be raised to meet the pervading all its civil and social institutions, and peneexisting library appropriation) would impose an addi- trating with its elevating and humanizing influences tional annual tax on the people of the State, for the sup- every hamlet, every neighborhood, every town, village port of the Common Schools, after deducting the amount and city of our vast confederacy? Are they prepared which would be saved by the abolition of the office of to reject the counsels of the great Father of his country, county superintendent, of about $58,000. It is obvious, whose last and most earnest injunctions to his fellowtherefore, from this practical view of the subject, that citizens, were,“ to promote as objects of primary imporwhile the contribution of the inhabitants of the several tance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge?” districts, on rate bills, for the payment of teachers' wa- Is the concentrated wisdom of the great, the good, the ges, would be somewhat lessened, the expensiveness of enlightened and the patriotic of our own and other the system, taken in the aggregate, would be materially climes to as nothing in comparison with the imenhanced. The argument, then, resolves itself into mediate and temporary advantages, if advantages there this. To secure a slight and scarcely perceptible re- are, awaiting the disbandment of an organization which duction of their quarterly rate bills for the education of involves a slight pecuniary sacrifice and requires a slight their children, the opponents of the present system are degree of gratuitous labor ? : prepared to withdraw all public pecuniary encourage. We are not prepared to deny that the amount of the ment from the higher institutions of learning, to sacri- annual appropriation from the State Treasury, to the fice all the advantages, present and prospective, of a several colleges and academies, is inexpedient and disdistrict library, to dispense with an enlightened and sys- proportionate when compared with the appropriation for tematic supervision of the schools, to reject the advan- the benefit of the common schools. But because the entages of periodical information of the progress of the lightened friends of our entire system of Public Instrucsystem, and of the various improvements in the science tion, and the Legislature, think otherwise, as they maniof education, which the increasing intelligence and en- festly do, and are likely to do, does this afford a sufficient terprize of the age is constantly furnishing, both at reason for denouncing that system in all its parts, and dehome and abroad, to abandon all attempts to prepare manding its abandonment? If it is desirable to make our teachers of common schools for the efficient perform- schools free, in accordance with the system adopted in ance of the responsible duties of their station ; and fi- Massachusetts, and in our principal cities, this can nally, to impose an additional and burdensome annual readily be done by taking off the existing restrictions
upon the amount of school money now authorized to contents, a constantly accumulating collection of books be raised by county and town taxation, and permitting, devoted to the elucidation of the various departments of or directing, as may be deemed most expedient, the literature, science and the arts—and which presents the inhabitants of each town, annually to raise the requisite noble spectacle of a government profusely lavishing its anjount, to meet in connection with the public money, surplus means for the mental and moral culture of every the entire expenditure for school purposes. This, in individual of all classes of its citizens, without excepour judgment, would be sound policy; and we enter- tion or discrimination? Rather let us dry up the suptain very little doubt that it will ultimately prevail, by plies for the civil administration of our political instituthe general and cordial assent of the people. Nor tions--withhold all aid and encouragement to the innu. should we very strenuously object to the augmentation merable objects of public and private enterprise which of the Common School Fund, provided that measure annually demand our fostering care-pause in our rapid could be accomplished without diminishing or entirely career of internal improvement and postpone the further exhausting funds hitherto set apart, after mature deli- development of our vast physical resources—than take beration, to other objects which it is the policy of the from our two million of citizens and from their child. State and the interest of the people to cherish and pro- ren and children's children the bread of intellectual and tect. Those who would leave our academies and col. moral life, which we have undertaken to dispense to leges to be supported exclusively by individual contri- them in ample profusion. We may trust to the intelbutions, run the imminent hazard, in our judgment, of ligence and virtue of our people for self-governmentfostering a literary aristocracy and of leaving the advan- their energy and enterprise will speedily hew out abuntages of these institutions to the children, only of the dant channels for individual and combined capital—the wealthy, instead of opening their doors as now, to all great thoroughfares of business and industry will susdesirous of participating in their benefits.
tain and support themselves and science and skill will In exact proportion as the public bounty flows in upon
adequately and seasonably expose the yet undiscovered them, the rates of tuition are brought within the means
resources of our land; but the blessings present, and of those of our citizens, who, anxious as they are to prospective, which result from a judiciously selected and provide liberally for the education of their children, well regulated School District Library, admit of no and to give them every opportunity accessible to the substitute — their deprivation, as' no compensation. most favored, are nevertheless compelled to count the There is, it is true, great reason to apprehend, that cost; and the moment this source of revenue is closed these blessings are not adequately appreciated nor imup, these institutions must necessarily rely for support proved in a majority of cases to the extent of which upon those who can afford a liberal outlay in return for they are capable ; but these are defects incidental to the more extended facilities for a finished education, the best systems of human origin; and they will diswhich are here and here only to be found. Short-sight: appear in proportion to the spread of knowledge, and ed, lowever, as is, to our mind, the policy of withdraw. the prevalence of a more enlightened and cultivated ing from our colleges and academies, the contributions public sentiment, aided by the experience and informa
tion from the public funds, which the wisdom of successive
the counsel and direction of the various oflicers legislatures, during the past half century, has
charged with the administration of this branch of the
appropriated to this object, the idea of abandoning the farther system of public instruction. We trust the day is far prosecution of the District Library system, for the
distant when the fund destined for the annual augmen
purpose of enhancing that portion of the Common School tation of these noble institutions of an advanced civiFund applicable to the payment of teachers wages,
lization will be diverted from this high object, to any
is still more preposterous and ill-judged. The institution purpose not absolutely indispensable to the fundamental of District Libraries is comparatively of recent origin,
welfare of the community. and although the idea was taken from the proceedings With regard to the abolition of the office of County of the British “ Society for the Diffusion of Useful Superintendent, all the considerations connected with Knowledge," organized some fifteen or twenty years this subject, have been so recently and so ably discussed, since under the auspices of Lord Brougham, no institu- both by the State superintendent, and the chairman of tion of a similar kind has as yet found its way into the the committee on Colleges, Academies and Common educational systems of Europe. Our own State is en- Schools of the Assembly, Mr. Hulburd of St. Lawrence, titled to the exclusive credit of a systematic, enlight- and the public sentiment has been so repeatedly,strongly, ened and practica! organization of this great department and unequivocally expressed in favor of the continuance of public instruction and popular education ; and the of this office, that we deem it entirely unnecessary to proud results of five years experience of the value and urge a single additional argument. With the experience efficacy of these libraries, have amply vindicated the of the past three years before us, pointing to practical prescience of those eminent statesmen and devoted phi- results the most cheering, improvements the most indislanthropists, who contributed to their diffusion broad- putable, and influences the most beneficial, growing out cast throughout our extended territory. Shall we be of the judicious and enlightened administration of by the first to abandon that great experiment which origi- far the greatest portion of these officers throughout the nating with ourselves has justly attracted the attention State, we are compelled to believe that whatever of a dif. and admiration of the civilized world—which has placed ferent complexion may have presented itself to the obserat the command of every inhabitant of our eleven thou- vation of the citizens of Orange County, must be chargesand school districts, of sufficient age to profit by their able to the injudicious measures of the local tribunals,
Auri sacra fames !"
or to an unfortunate misapprehension, either by the in- What is the true duty of the American Classical Scholar ? cumbent of the office, or his constituents, of the na
In this country, where all nature opens wide her exture of the duties required at his hands.
haustless stores, inviting the hopeful and enterprising to In conclusion, for we have extended our remarks al- their occupancy and development; great effort is neready to a much greater length than we had designed— cessary to preserve the due ascendancy of mind over we have only to express our anxiety to co-operate with Almost the entire population of our land, are any portion of our fellow citizens, in such modifications pressing around to lay open and appropriate its physical of the laws relating to our great system of Public In
As aecessary consequents of this spirit, sorstruction in any of its departments, as public sentiment did selfishness and a restless unappeasable desire to shall require, and as an enlightened appreciation of the amass wealth, are quite without bound or restraint. interests of education shall dictate. It is due, however, Did men toil to increase their riches that they might to a proper respect for the legislation of the past half become Thorntons or Macænases, the scholar and man century in reference to these great interests, to the wis- of literary taste might take heart and labor on, but such doun and experience of the distinguished statesmen un- is wide from the truth. To such an extent does this der whose auspices that system has been compacted and lucre-loving spirit prevail, that one can with difficulty matured to its present symmetrical proportions, and to
suppress the ejaculationthe opinion of the most competent judges on this head,
"Quid non mortalia pectora cogis, in our own and our sister States, to say, that laying out of view those imperfections which must unavoidably at
To counteract this tendency, so ruinous to all literary tach to the most finished labors of human intellect, it and educational interests, the empire of mind must be would be difficult to re-create from the ample materials boldly asserted and stoutly maintained, otherwise luxuat the command of the legislators of the present day, a ry and abundance will induce among us idleness and its system of public instruction, embracing the vast inter- concomitant vices; forboding to civil and social life, a ests of a population as numerous and diversified as our destruction more terrible and complete than that proown, which in its practical workings, should afford an duced by similar causes among the once noble states of effectual substituie for that now proposed to be abandon
antiquity. ed or essentially modified. In this respect, as in others
For the accomplishment of this great work a few of a similar nature, relating to the structure and func- eminent scholars, such as were known in Athens and tions of civil institutions, it will invariably be found far Alexandria, are not competent; nor indeed a multitude easier to pull down than to build up, to demolish than of men learned in philology and the abstract sciences, to reconstruct; and, advocates as we are, of progress and of whom Germany and France have always boasted. advancement in political, social and civil economy, we the condition of society in the United States is too little would have nothing done in this department of our insti- perfected; its elements, unsettled and ever-changing in tutions, hastily, rashly or injudiciously,—nothing which their aspect, demand a spirit of active energy among might injuriously or disastrously affect the interests of all classes of men, to follow their drifting current, to the present generation not only, but those of the future, turn with them into their whirling eddies, and when. the inheritors of that civilization which is now dispens- ever a transient rest will permit, to scatter among them ing its blessings to all classes of our favcred clime. We the saving health of piety and learning. When they would not commit to the tempestous waves of popular shall have become composed and are governed by uniexcitement and agitation, the time honored bark which form and stable agreements—when every nook and dell has hitherto conducted us in safety over the rocks and at the west, as at the “east,” shall have been cheered shoals and eddies of an untried sea; nor would we en- with the presence of society and good order — when danger its precious freight by a hasty abandonment of s. living” shall come at less toil and less expense, then, the noble vessel, because its proportions failed, in all and not till then, may men rest in the mere enjoyment respects, to come up to our ideal standard of perfection, of literary taste and literary fame. Meanwhile, men in or because an unimportant portion of its crew were all professions, and especially professional educators, deemed incompetent to the adequate discharge of the must labor each in his own department, to make it a duties of their station.
very fountain of kindly influences, into which all antiTime. Whether we play, or labour, or sleep, or dance, quity and the experience of the great past, shall pour or study, the sun posteth and the sand runs. In all the unfailing and health-giving currents. actions that a man performs, some part of his life pas- Among these the inan of classical taste and acquireseth. We die without doing that for which only our ment has an appropriate task. The day has passed, sliding life was granted. Nay, though we do nothing, probably never to return, when men of but ordinary time keeps his constant pace, and flies as fast in idleness Intelligence and cultivation need to be convinced of the as in employment. An hour of vice is as long as an great benefits resulting from a thorough and extended hour of virtue; but the difference which follows froin education in the classics. Experience has settled that good actions is infinite from that otill ones. The good, question beyond the possibility of doubt. Haring gained though it diminishes our time here, yet it lays up a this high advantage, those engaged in such pursuits pleasure in eternity, and will recompense what it tak. have only to obtain and press upon men the most systeeth away with a plentiful return at last. When we matic and feasible plan for reaping and imparting the trade with virtue, we do not buy pleasure with an ex- pleasant fruits of this branch of learning. pense of time; so it is not so much a consuming of time In answering briefly and practically the questions headas an exchange. Time is a ship which never anchors. ling this article, the same remarks are applicable that have already been made in regard of education in gene skilful criticism; to prune them for general use, from ral, namely: that any number of learned men, as such, all superfluous annotation; to dress them in the lanare by no means sufficient. Neither the times nor our guage of his country; and append whatever other guides present social arrangements, would warrant even tole. he may deem necessary to their being better understood rate men who should devote themselves exclusively to and appreciated. Having done this, let him throw out the revision and emendation of elementary books and for the instructor's use only, the original commentaries the classical writings of the ancients. A glance at the entire, accompanied with what he may have gathered present state of such literature must thoroughly con- elsewhere, to give them greater value. That he may vince one that it would be sheer folly in the American render his task complete and of practical utility, let student, with the libraries to which he could gain ac- him seize upon the labors of grammarians and compilers cess, to make the attempt; and of a truth it is not ne- of elementary works, and appropriating all that is vacessary, since almost everything which may be consid- luable to his purpose, furnish to the hand of the young ered strictly the work of the philologist has been, or and hesitating, an inductive access to the pleasures soon will be, reformed and furnished to our hands. In that await him. Here, truly, is opened up an endless the old countries, classical scholars, surrounded by toil; this is the true field of labor and reward. abundant records and monuments of antiquity, have, Who is beter fitted for this duty than the American for at least three centuries, devoted their time and scholar? The government under which he lives—the strength to such pursuits, that poets, philosophers and newness of his country, and his consequent spirit of statesmen, gray with age, might be drawn forth from enterprise-his accustomed activity of mind and his their obscure retreats and become the standards of clas- intellectual method, makes him of all others the most sical beauty and perfection in all coming time. Ernerti, competent. He is disposed by the very constitution of Gesner, Heyne, Wolf, Jacobs, Boch and Buttman, in his being and the wants of the social organization in Gerinany ; Hernsterhuys, Grotius, Wittenbach, Perizo- which he lives, to arrangement, system and practical nius and Rupnken, in Holland; Stephens, Salmarius, perfectibility. He feels his superiority over the scholar Casaubon and Scaliger, in France; and Bentley, Mark- of foreign lands, for nowhere have grammarians and land and Musgrave, in England, have entered the very commentators given to the world elementary books arpenetralia of philological learning, have thrown back ranged with such simplicity, order and perspicuity. the lumber fast gathering over the stately and elegant Who that knows of the difficulties attending the first ancients, and rescued them from a cruel and hopeless lessons of Latin and Greek, would place before the oblivion. That their work might not seem but half timid boy the massive grammars of Buttman nnd Schil. performed, they have furnished for the classical world ler, to the exclusion of Bullions' series, or the Latin vast and learned commentaries upon all the most im- grammar of Andrews and Stoddard ? portant ancient authors, for the guidance of those who The text-books published by American critics, such might love still to linger near these moss-grown foun- as Felton, Andrews, Dillaway, Anthon and Woolsey, tains. These princes among the learned have restored have already won for their editors reputations truly ento their former beauty and character, Homer and Vir- viable, both in this country and abroad. These works, gil, Socrates and Plato, Aristotle and nophon, De- although comparatively few in numbers, are not unimmosthenes and Cicero, Herodotus and Thucidides, the portant indications of what may and will yet be done in fathers of poetry, history, rhetoric and philosophy, and this country, for this department of learning. They are have brought out with them a host of lesser lights who what they should be, and will do much towards awalived as satellites to these centres of intellectual radi- kening and cherishing the love of classical elegance
among the active and promising youth of the land. It would not be wise to seek for much improvement They are the germs which at a future day, not far disupon works edited by such men and under such auspi- tant, will burst forth in the rich and golden harvest.
Beside to the American scholar time is limited to May these and other men press on in the good work a small amount beyond what is necessary in the prose- they have so nobly begun, assured that even now their cution of his particular department, leaving him but countrymen feel, and are waiting to acknowledge their little leisure for collateral investigations. In view of obligation to strengthen their hands and encourage their these facts, and in view of his almost utter destitution hearts, assuming the glorious motto of our Stateof these aids essential to such labor, he would exhibit “Excelsior,” may they bear on their lips the prayer of no little vanity and rashness in the attempt at a work of one of the brightest scholars of Hollandsuch vast extent and difficulty.
“Extremum hunc, Arethusa, mihi concede laborem." It may be asked, what then remains to the lover of But the duty of the classical student ends not here; classic lore, if he be shut out from this high privilege ? he has other work to perform as his legitimate task. I answer, much, yea, much every way. The field of When he shall have furnished the requisite means of labor that spreads beyond him is boundless and full of success, the appliance of such education, much remains richness and beauty. He need not hold out his hands to to be done, that he may elicit for his favorite study the Great Britain and the Continent, and, without discrimi- warm and generous enthusiasm of the heart. Having nation, cast these numerous editions, cumbered with drawn large draughts from the ever-gushing fountains comment, into our academies and universities. This of the past, with a spirit of true and sincere philanwould be to discourage the mass of youth from their thropy, let him bear out upon the bosom of society, study. His first duty is to separate those known and and spread with broad-cast these gems of beauty, sparkacknowledged to have been sent forth from the most ling and Aashing in the light of intellectual splendor.