Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

some acquaintance amongst the undergraduates. I must be allowed to express my opinion that many of these, men too, in many instances, who profess themselves the friends of religion, have shewn a lamentable tameness in this particular. When I first went to college, I took with me letters of introduction to some members of the university, of unquestionable piety, and no inconsiderable rank in the republic of letters. They treated me with flattering marks of civility; and for a time perhaps my conduct gave me some claim to their regard. Soon, however, I was led into habits to which I am sure they could not be strangers, and which, I am equally sure, they could not approve. But they never expressed their disapprobation, and they continued to honour me with unaltered attention to the close of my academical life. Doubt less, this attention was well meant; and the kindness from which it flowed merits my warmest gratitude. But had that kindness shewn itself in earnest and friendly remonstrances on the impropriety of my conduct, I feel a strong persuasion that I should not be compelled, as I am, to reflect, with ineffectual sorrow, on the consumption of many pounds, and, which is of more awful importance, of many hours, in luxurious indulgence, and indolent or dissipated amusements.

May He, in whose hand are the hearts of all men, so dispose the hearts of the governors and other graduates of our universities, that they may watch over the young and inexperienced members, with sedulous and affectionate anxiety! And may He so incline the hearts of the young to habits of study, retirement, frugality, and devotion, that in those hallowed seats of science "true religion and useful learning may flourish and abound, and that there never may be want ing" from them "a supply of fit and able men, daly qualified to serve God both in church and state!"



To the Editor of the Christian Observer.

THE respectable medium the Christian Observer offers for communication with the public, must be my apology for troubling the Editor with the annexed certificate for insertion: it is brought forward for no purpose of contention, but sim-, ply to serve the cause of justice.

You are no stranger to a spurious letter, inserted by Dr. Marsh in his Reply to Dr. Milner's Strictures, written in the assumed language of a Quaker, having a post-mark upon it, which induced the Doctor to imagine that his correspondent resided at or near Abingdon, in Berkshire.-I am aware that the whole Society of Friends can hardly be responsible for the intemperance of a single member, if the fact were just as it has been represented to the public; but when there is the clearest evidence that there is not an individual of their persuasion in being, of the name affixed to the " Abingdon Letter," and while Dr. Marsh, not content with bringing the subject forward in two publications, has continued to insist upon the correctness of his assertions, by public invitation to "all gentlemen who may doubt the authenticity of the Abingdon Letter to call upon him and see that letter, an examination of which will convince them that it is authentic;" we need not be surprised that respectable persons, resident in Berkshire and Oxfordshire, should show some anxiety to counteract the effect of such a delusion: for my own part, I confess, that I could, hardly repress a smile at such a specimen of the Professor's ingenuity! The mere exhibition of a letter prove the authenticity of it!-The letter must be genuine-for here it is! Dangerous logic! To reason thus, would give currency to the grossest frauds, and render for-, gery a safe as well as profitable employment. Not a Bank-of-England note could be refused payment, however clumsily executed. True, or false is out of the question... 2 H


[blocks in formation]

"We the undersigned, resident at the places respectively set against our names, do hereby certify that there is no person, professing with the people called Quakers, of the name of James Whiten, James Whitin, or James Whiting, in the neighbourhood of Abingdon, nor has been to our knowledge; and further, that we know of no person, in connection with the aforesaid Society, who bears either of the above names, in the counties of Berks or Oxon, or elsewhere.

"Robert Allen, Abingdon, Berks.
Jas. Reynolds, Faringdon, ditto.
Cha.Reynolds, Faringdon, ditto.
Jere. Wallis, Abingdon, ditto.
Rich. Reynolds, Faringdon,ditto.
Thos. Skennir, Witney, Oxon.
Dan. Rutter, Witney, ditto.
E. Swaine, Henley, ditto.
Joseph May, Henley, ditto."


(Concluded from p. 159.)

WHEN we consider the great importance of a right management of the temper in the formation of the Christian character, it cannot be a matter of surprize that I should request the attention of your readers to a few remarks on that point, in closing this too-long-protracted discussion on the subject of Emulation. It must be owned, even where the object of Emulation is most legitimate, the motive for carrying it on most laudable, and the means wholly unexceptionable, that still it may be conducted in a very bad spirit. Joy at the failure of others, undue exultation at your own success, with the whole tribe of splenetic vapours at the prospect, or, under the immediate lash of disappointment, are the too ready and unfortunate asso.

ciates of the human mind in every pursuit which brings it into contact with others. Take the effects of that species of Emulation which is necessarily implied in what is (hatefully I was going to say, from its abuse,) denominated an argument between two persons. Let their argument, or call it the comparison of their ideas, take place upon one of the gravest points of the Christian religion. Let their honest motive be to acquire clear notions upon the subject, and so to glorify God.Alas! how very soon will both motive and subject often change their complexion-" the gold become dim, the most fine gold be changed,"-beneath the sullying effects of a vain-glorious or a disappointed ambition. It began by "two friends going hand in hand in pursuit of truth :" it ends with “a duel in the form of a debate." The point of honour, in this case the prize of reasoning, is too precious to be resigned without a struggle on either side. And this perhaps makes an argument a more frequent and more fruitful source of contentions and rancorous feeling even than many games, where, under the same principle of Emulation, there is still a mixture of chance with skill in producing the event. The skill in these last is more easily resolved into habit, or palliated by fortuitous occurrences, than where the event wholly depends on the exercise of the reasoning faculty. And therefore, perhaps, even chess, though the most reasoning of all games, has not the production of so much rancour and ill blood to answer for, in a given time, as the unfortunate disputes, for instance, on the subject of Calvinism. Now it is the production of this contentious, this envious, this oftentimes malignant, and still oftener vain-glorious, temper, which has induced many sound writers on morality to proscribe the principle of Emulation from the allowed limits of human agency. Your excellent correspondent himself, in another paper, has enjoined a careful obsere

vation of the mind and temper of the pupil, before he be fully allowed the use of any species of game of competition; and the first dawnings of a quarrelsome or contentious spirit are to be the signal for laying aside the racket or the board. Truly enough, I am not surprised at these instruments of competition being so easily dismissed, when upon his own principles it was rather inconsistent to admit them at all; "a superiority" in such pursuits being almost literally sought for its own sake." Nor, indeed, should I have any great objection to their being laid aside from such a cause, with this single variation from your correspondent's plan; that the pupil should be rather persuaded to lay them aside himself as dangerous to his own peace, than be forcibly deprived of them as a mere punishment for having misused them. From this latter measure, I own, I see much hazard lest an increasing fondness should result, which would appear at a more favourable opportunity.

But my principal difficulty in the affair lies here. After you have forbid your child the use of the bat, or the board, you must, à fortiori, according to a former observation, forbid him the use of his reasoning powers. And I must acknowledge my wonder that this plain conclusion never occurred to your corre spondent, and to those who think with him on the subject, viz. that if games of competition are amusements scarcely ever to be entrust ed with safety in children's hands, much less should the multifarious temptations of ordinary conversa tion be left without a guard and a check; which, in the case of many disputatious tempers would, even to the end of life, amount almost to a total prohibition to converse. In this case your correspondent will doubtless reply, Converse we must, argue we must; any prohibition to the contrary would be absurd: therefore rather warn your pupil of his natural temper; put him on his guard against his favourite propen

sity; teach him " to be sober, and to watch unto prayer;" direct him to that source of instruction where alone he can learn to be "meek and lowly in heart ;" and then send him forth, not with a padlock on his lips or a chain on his thoughts, but armed with the whole armour of God, and furnished with principles which can worthily influence his reason, or direct his speech.

Now, without any desire to advocate the cause of games of competition, it is extraordinary, nevertheless, that it should occur to me, to apply just this same mode of conduct and precaution to the lesser danger arising from their moderate use? The advocate for amusement would say, that children must be amused; that it is scarcely possible to devise games in which some mode of competition will not be found; and, that the warning beforehand where necessary (and where is it not?) will probably operate more salutarily, with the immediate opportunity of putting it into practice, than a bare removal of all possible temptation, as you vainly think, to an indefinite distance.

My motive in pursuing this train of reasoning will be easily anticipated to be that of applying it to the question of educational emulation. Here is a positive, a most important, a most indispensable end to be answered by the game, if you please so to call it, of competition. And will you dispatch the principle out of existence, because the tempers to which it may lead, by abuse, are of a questionable or even of the worst kind? Will it not be the more discreet, more moderate, more scientific, and more salutary course to steer between the extremes :-not to inflame the temper of the pupil indeed by any refined and artificial appendages to the principle in question; on the contrary, to purify it as much as possible from every corrupting tendency; then to warn your pupil of the abuse to which, this in common with every principle of the human mind, is, through our natural depra

vity, become liable; and, so to dismiss him, covered with every human and divine protection in your power, to the arena of useful and honourable combat.

But we are here again upon narrow and unfavourable ground. We are supposing emulation liable to produce all the ill tempers which your correspondent would charge upon it. We are supposing to the utmost limit of its dangers; without taking into the account the power it possesses of an opposite kind; the tendency which unquestionably resides in it to rectify its own abuses.

The effect of Emulation in correcting those very feelings of pride which, it was admitted, might some times give birth to it, has been already noticed. And, however paradoxical it may appear, I have no difficulty in affirming, that its operation forward upon its own effects, will be eventually as beneficial as we have proved its operation backward on its cause to be:-the temper which it may for a time excite, it will itself provide the means of ultimately extinguishing.A well-regulated school upon the principles of Emulation (not where beating and box ing, and pulling the hair, and spitting in the face of the unsuccessful candidate are privileges allowed to the conqueror, as we have heard is the case in some Lancastrian schools) affords, I strongly believe, one of the best cures that exist, for the ery obliquity of temper complained of. Grant that some sour looks and spiteful wishes glance across the brow of the disappointed youth, upon the first few unsuccessful trials of his skill; how soon does he learn that the indulgence of these feelings is no ready road either to success in future, or to the favour of his master or his competitors in school? Perhaps another experiment, by its success, dispels, with an unexpected glean, the gathering clouds and the quick alternations of fortune soon leave but little space either for brooding over the mortifi

[ocr errors]

cations of failure, or exulting in the triumphs of victory. In classes of any magnitude, personal competition is of necessity wholly lost in a general struggle for the highest place. The pupil is soon made to feel that for his approximation to the top of his class, or his distance from it, he is mainly dependent on his own conduct. To attain it, he readily excuses in another the effort which he had the moment before made himself. He even learns to sympathize with his fellow in a failure of which he has felt the smart. Often will you see in such contests the most amiable traits of disinterested generosity; and even one competitor assisting another to attain that eminence, with which both have learnt to associate the rewards of diligence and the approbation of the master. In contests of a higher order, other emotions prevail equally destructive of the low feelings of a petty jealousy. In university-examinations the solemnity of the preparation, the gaze of spectators, the importance of the prize, and the future consequences of the award, all seem to carry the mind beyond itself, and to produce more than half the purifying effect attributed by Aristotle to tragedy itself. The mortal combatants learn a mutual feeling, and embrace in common danger. If some extraordinary cases of sturdiness or spleen occur, which are sure to be noticed and scouted, I believe the examina. tion-room to be, on the other hand, a scene where the noblest feelings of a reciprocal regard have been called into exercise. And whilst on this subject we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen," the reader, perhaps, will be better pleased by a more authentic testimony to the same effect, contained in your own pages, Mr. Editor, in the able character of the late venerable and ever-lamented Dr. Jowett of Cambridge.

[ocr errors]

"In mathematical pursuits, and in subjects of natural philosophy, though these two friends" (the late

Professor of Civil Lawand the venerable the Dean of Carlisle)" were of the same academical year, and for some time likely to have been competitors for the University-honours at degree-time, they constantly read together, afforded mu tual assistance to each other, and always communicated the respective progress they were making, without the least reserve or jealousy." Christian Observer for De cember, 1813, p. 822.-I will not amuse myself, sir, with imagining the vain attempts of your correspondent to throw aside this solitary instance of a good-tempered Emulation; nor the regret I might sup'pose him to feel that he should have rested the proof of the possibility of his Anti-Emulation schemes on a solitary instance of success. I will rather allow him many instances of success in education conducted, as he fancies, without the aid of Emulation. I will keep my own know ledge of the temper in which open and avowed Emulation may be conducted, to myself. I will argue the question on abstract grounds;" and I will undertake to maintain, that an education conducted to the exclusion of the ordinary modes of Emulation, with any given number down to one alone, as the subject of the experiment, shall be more likely to excite, and be less calculated to reduce, an ungracious and selfish temper, than the same education conducted by the same person, only through the medium of a sensible, moderate, and well-regulated spirit of Emulation.

But, sir, perhaps happily for my self, I am arrived at that point when I have a fair excuse, or rather an urgent call, for closing my observations; and, after alarming your readers, by the threat of a long train of "abstract reasoning," to prove a very plain practical point, I shall now agreeably surprize them, by referring to what has been already alleged; fully assured that the utmost strength of my humble arguments in favour of the Principle

of Emulation has been already put forth; and that, if further reasonings are required to defend it, they must be sought from some abler champion of the cause. Here, therefore, I beg leave to withdraw myself from your further attention; only trusting, whatever my execution of the argument I have undertaken against your able and valuable correspondent may have been, my motive in it will not be misconstrued. Considering the plans of education proposed by Dr. Bell and Mr. Lancaster to be really one of the greatest blessings which, in these later years, God has vouchsafed to our favourite iste; and viewing the Principle of Emulation as the main stay and distinguishing characteristic of these plans; how should it have been possible for me to have felt or expressed myself less strongly than I have? Deeply interested myself in the success of no very insignificant establishment on the footing of these plans; looking earnestly for an improvement in the minds and moral dispositions of the children, as an object of greater importance than even their attainments in learning; and entertaining the most sanguine expectations of success in this very particular from those plans, beyond all others ever devised by the wit of man; how must I be alarmed by the strong forebodings of your vigorous page on the issue of these hopes!-Could I have been convinced that Emulation were in itself a corrupt and unholy principle of action, I should as soon expect success from an education of which that was the basis, as I should from schools which, like the Spartan, encouraged theft and simulation. Did not believe the most vigorous pursuit of Emulation was consistent with the highest degrees of Divine grace in the heart, and capable of being turned, even in ordinary studies," to the praise and glory of God," I should strongly hesitate as to its lawfulness at all. And finally, did I not see in practice the most noble, ge

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »