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Where rogues insolvent strut in whitewashed pride,
To learn of changing stocks, of bargains crossed,
And give the heart-ach to the sons of trade.
Through life's dark road his sordid way he wends,
But when to death he sinks, ungrieved, unsung,
To guess the wealth he leaves his tearless heir;
Heaven deal with him as he hath dealt with man.'
pp. 17, 18. There is one of the finest pictures we remember ever to have seen, of a family, the father of which is led by curiosity to visit foreign lands. The gloom of his mansion, the regrets of his wife and children, and the thoughtfulness with which he leans over the cradle, with his purpose almost shaken, are described with truth and feeling; and powerfully wound up with a view of him, lying in the cabin of the homeward vessel, with the seal of death on his brow, till the short preparation is made for that most forlorn of all services, the funeral at sea. We have only room for the close. Cold in his cabin now,
Death's finger-mark is on his pallid brow;
Kind woman's place rough mariners supplied,
The crew look on with sad, but curious view;
The silent lecture of death's sabbath hour;
pp. 24, 25. Mr Sprague's language is simple and nervous, and his imagery brilliant and striking. There is a spirit of pervading good sense in this poem, which shows that he gives poetry its right place in his mind. Above all there is a lofty tone of thought, which indicates superiority to the affectations of the day. Notwithstanding the intimations conveyed in the close of this work, that the duties of his life are of no poetical character, we venture to hope, that some moral subject will again inspire him, and hazard nothing in predicting, that, in such an event, he will do honor to himself and the country.
ART. III.-Suggestions respecting Improvements in Education, presented to the Trustees of the Hartford Female Seminary, and published at their Request. By CATHARINE E. BEECHER. Hartford. Packard & Butler. 8vo. pp. 84.
MUCH of the existing evil in the world may be removed or lessened by human agency. What now is, and always has been, regarded as the most powerful means for improving the condition of our race, is education. This being so well understood, it is sometimes asked, Why, then, are the hopes of
careful and conscientious parents so often defeated in the future character of their offspring? Why is it, that the wealth lavished on education, and the unremitted labors of friends and teachers, so often yield but miserable and unsatisfactory returns; that where the good seed is sown, the harvest is nothing but weeds? We do not now inquire, as to the causes of crime and wretchedness among individuals who are borne down by poverty and ignorance; or of the low and sensual morality of nations on which the light of Christianity has not yet shone; or of those which have been for ages oppressed under absurd political systems. But why is it, that, in a country like our own, whose political institutions are wise, in which education is made an object of chief importance, it should so often prove unsuccessful in its influence on the character even of those who are most fortunately situated?
It is not our intention, at present, to enter very deeply into the discussion of these questions. It is evident, that the imperfect success of education, compared with the means used, does not arise from any want of interest in the subject. On the contrary, the whole community of our country seems to be fully aware of its importance, and is striving earnestly to increase the present means, and improve the present modes of education. Every year is adding new states to the number of those which provide free schools for the instruction of all classes. Legislatures and individuals have showered their bounty on our seminaries of learning. Every day brings forth new treatises for the use of schools and colleges, and new volumes for the instruction and amusement of youth, which, compared with those in use twenty years ago, exhibit great and manifest improvement. We behold, on every side, proofs of the earnest and constant efforts which are making to promote the welfare of the rising generation. We daily hear of new schools on improved plans, and of new systems of instruction introduced into the old. Sunday schools, too, which are now so common, are an instrument to act on the moral nature of the people, the power of which is great, and as yet, perhaps, not fully appreciated. The societies for the diffusion of knowledge, the Lyceums, and Mechanics' Institutions, the popular scientific lectures, also afford means of advancing the intellectual, and, at the same time, the moral condition of the great mass of the community, to which former ages present no parallel. And not only are the respectable
portions of the laboring classes thus incited and led to improvement; but even those degraded outcasts, the tenants of prisons and houses of correction, have been sought out by a judicious humanity, and made the objects of the blessings of education.
However much satisfaction we may feel in contemplating the facts to which we have alluded, still we cannot but confess, that education is as yet a very imperfect instrument, compared with what it might be rendered. The object of the little volume, named at the head of this article, appears to be to show some of the causes of this imperfection, and to suggest improvements. The author is the Principal of the Hartford Female Seminary, an institution for the education of females, which has acquired a high reputation under her direction. It appears from the title-page, that it was presented to the trustees of the Seminary, and that it is published at their request. The author, after pointing out the defects in school education, states some of the modes of instruction which are pursued in her own establishment, and finally proposes certain changes in it for the consideration of the trustees.
We can truly say, that we have read this little volume with great pleasure. Not that we give our entire assent to all that the author advances, for we shall have occasion, before we finish, to controvert some of her positions; but her book exhibits great good sense, a thorough practical knowledge of the business of instruction, and a deep and lively interest in the subject. It is evidently the work of patient reflection and careful observation; and written in a very animated and forcible manner. Her suggestions do not all merit the praise of absolute novelty, but many of them have the higher merit of truth and correctness; and, indeed, when we consider that, as far back as the time of Lycurgus, the science of education was, in some respects, as well understood and thoroughly practised as at present, and recollect the attention which such minds as Quinctilian and Locke, to mention no others, have devoted to the subject, we shall readily believe, that what the public requires is not always to have new paths pointed out, but to be recalled to the old. We believe that few parents and few instructers can read this little volume without de
riving from it something useful. And perhaps that heavy mass, the public, which is oftentimes so difficult to move, but VOL. XXX.-No. 67.
whose momentum is so irresistible when it is once set in motion, may be forced into action by this and similar publications.
After remarking, in the outset, how much time, labor, and money are expended to little purpose in the instruction of youth, and what service teachers might render by communicating to the public the results of their experience, the author continues as follows.
Most of the defects, which are continually discovered and lamented in present systems of education, may be traced, either directly or indirectly, to the fact, that the formation of the minds of children has not been made a profession securing wealth, influence, or honor, to those who enter it.
The three professions of law, divinity, and medicine, present a reasonable prospect of reputation, influence, and emolument, to active and cultivated minds. The mercantile, manufacturing, and mechanical professions, present a hope of gaining at least that wealth which can so readily purchase estimation and influence. But the profession of a teacher has not offered any such stimulus.
It has been looked upon as the resource of poverty, or as a drudgery suited only to inferior minds, and far beneath the aims of the intellectual aspirant for fame and influence, or of the active competitor for wealth and distinction. The consequence of this has been, as a general fact, that this profession has never, until very recently, commanded, or secured the effort of gifted minds. These have all forsaken this for a more lucrative or a more honorable avenue; and few have engaged in it, except those whose talents would not allow them to rise in other professions, or those who only made it a temporary resort, till better prospects should offer.
In all other professions, we find bodies of men united by a common professional interest; we find organs of public communication, in the form of periodicals, or of official reports; in all other professions, the improvement of distinguished minds, and the result of their successful experiments are recorded and transmitted for the benefit of those who may succeed. The duties of all other professions are deemed of so much consequence that years must be spent, even after a liberal education, in preparing for these peculiar duties; and the public are so tenacious lest these professions should be filled by persons not properly prepared, that none may be admitted, but upon an examination before those qualified by study and experience to judge of the acquisitions of each candidate.
Even the simple business of making a shoe, is deemed of such importance and difficulty as to demand an apprenticeship for years, and mankind are usually very cautious not to hazard em