Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

of Antioch College to this day, to justify us in saying that the peculiar views of the school to which Mr. Mann belonged, were to predominate in the spirit, instruction, and discipline of the new institution.

It was his onerous task to take the enterprise ab initio, and to struggle, not only with the manifold difficulties that are expected in any such undertaking, but with those that grew out of its peculiar relations and circumstances. “The people of the West” he found to be “open, receptive, and mouldable," but “the ministers bad a cast-iron epidermis so opaque and impervious that no sunlight can get into them--so absorbent that none is reflected from them, or all that strikes upon them is swallowed up and lost. The stronger minds which break away from orthodoxy, as the common rule, find no resting-place this side of general scepticism.”

Mr. Mann went to the West in September, 1853, and for nearly five years gave himself with unremitting and exhausting fidelity to the interests he had espoused. During that time, he tells us, more than a thousand students were connected with some department of the college, and he adds that “among them all scarcely one who has been with us long enough to imbibe the spirit of the place, has left us a dogmatizer or a bigot.” In other words, he had been, in a good degree, successful in sowing in the “open, receptive, and mouldable” minds of more than a thousand young men and maidens of the West, “a religionism from whose features the young would not turn away.”

In the spring of 1858, the financial embarrassments which had before threatened to bring about the utter failure of the enterprise, ended in the advertisement of all the college property for sale at public auction., Mr. Mann felt that precious interests of “liberal religion” as well as of education, were in imminent peril. It would seem that some root of bitterness had already sprung up among those who had the government, or at least the purse-strings, in their hands. “Men who had pretended enthusiasm for him and for learning at first, fell away and became hostile when the failing fortunes of the college disappointed their desire to coin gold out of their unsold lands.” Indeed, the picture which is given us of the state of

affairs at that juncture, would lead us to doubt whether the fruit of the new philosophy, though raised on that free virgin soil, was much to be preferred to that which is found in evangelical or “orthodox" enclosures. But its zealous cultivator was not to be deterred by difficulties, and with a fearless spirit he addressed himself to new efforts for averting the impending catastrophe. It was in vain, however. Difficulties arose in the college family, fomented, as we are told, by “outside women's rights women. Heart-burnings were revealed in the Board of Directors. It was clear that the institution had been bankrupt from the outset, though the accounts were so kept as to conceal the fact. A new organization was attempted on a new basis and capital, “but under the same moral and religious auspices.” It succeeded so far that temporary provision was made for current expenses, and a class graduated, receiving from Mr. Mann a baccalaureate address full of fervour and sympathy, but alas! for human nature, exceedingly “bigoted."* In this address to a company of young persons, just entering upon the stern realities of life, and needing the plainest and simplest rules of conduct, the distinguished educator, now past sixty years of age, presents the following picture:

“We are created with numerous appetences, all like so many eyes to desire, and like so many hands to seize their related objects in the external world. The external world superabounds with objects fitted to gratify and influence those internal appetences. And now these beings, fervid and aflame with these desires, are turned loose among these objects without any knowledge of what kind, in what quantity, at what time, they are to be taken and enjoyed, but with free agency to take what, when, and as much as they please. Bring these few elements into juxtaposition—the thousand objects around, the inward desire for them, the free will to take them, and complete ignorance of consequences, and how is it possible to avoid mistakes, injuries, errors, crimes ?”

* Bigot, a man devoted unreasonably to certain party, or prejudiced in favour of certain opinions.Johnson.

“ In philosophy and religion the bigots of all parties are generally the most positive.”— Watts.

The apostasy of man, of which John Milton says,

“ Earth felt the wound; and Nature, from her seat
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe,
That all was lost"

he describes to these young people as “ what my very much respected but unfortunate great-grandparents, Adam and Eve did, in the garden of Eden at the time of the interview with a distinguished stranger in disguise."

He tells them that “the descendants of the Puritans" (that is a considerable proportion of the Christian people of New England) “ are disposed to believe in the doctrine of vicarious atonement, because this getting everything and giving nothing is such a sharp bargain-very much the same plan on which the Puritan treated the Indians.” And he sums up his instructions and exhortations by saying, “ You have only to set your head right by knowledge, and your heart right by obedience, and forces, stronger than streams, or winds, or gravitation, will bear you up to celestial blessedness, Elijah-like, by means as visible and palpable as though they were horses of fire, and chariots of fire.”

But our space is overrun. Mr. Mann's memory has many and warm eulogists. By those who adopt his theories he is regarded as the pioneer of a mighty moral revolution. “ He was," in their view, “one of a body of far-sceing men who for nearly fifteen years have determined that there should be in the very heart of this country an institution which should not be second in ability to Harvard or to Yale,—and should, in the liberality of its system, and its freedom from sectional or sectarian restrictions, be able indeed to educate all comers. Biding their time in difficulties, working hard at the oar when the tide was in their favour, they have at last succeeded in obtaining a charter absolutely free from blemish, college buildings now ready for several hundred students, and a prestige of the first value through the whole western country, -and an endowment in real estate of $150,000, and in invested stocks a quarter of a million more.”

The full direction of the college thus chartered and endowed

was recently offered to the present Governor of Massachusetts, whose distinguished public career, not less than his strong sympathy with Mr. Mann's views and projects, naturally suggested the selection. To induce him to accept the post his friends say—“they do not expect him to teach arithmetic to schoolboys, or to oversee the police of a boarding school. They do expect him to appoint the fifteen or twenty professors whom the income of the college will at once sustain; to hold toward it the position which the vice-chancellor of an English university holds; to contrive the plans for its widest usefulness; to direct the efforts of the professors; to encourage and stimulate the pupils; and in general to advise the friends of the enterprise everywhere. They expect yet more,—that the energy of his character and the distinctness of his plans will make him one of the leaders of the education of the West; that not in that college only, but at every point where public opinion can be touched, his influence shall be found; and that this institution in its training of professional men, of men of active affairs, and of the teachers of the people, will introduce him to the large western world."'*

This was the glowing picture which rivetted Mr. Mann's eyes, and to realize it he counted not even his life dear to him. Would that a spirit, alike brave, enduring and enthusiastic, animated the friends of a better and safer theory of educating the teeming millions of the West!

No one can read without deep emotion the few pages that record the giving way of his physical nature.

However thorough our dissent from his opinions and plans, we cannot but admire his self-denial and public spirit, nor can we doubt the strength of his conviction that the system he so strenuously advocated had all the virtue he claimed for it. The failure of his imposing structure must be ascribed to the inherent weakness of the foundation. In dealing with the intellectual and moral nature of man it will not do to reject inspiration, nor to

* Boston Daily Advertiser, September 28, 1865.

† “If inspiration be claimed for any one, was not Dr. Channing inspired ?"Mr. Mann's letter to Mr. Combe, April, 1849.

regard the great Teacher sent from God as only an “unspoiled human being."

We lay aside the volume with a mingled feeling of sorrow and surprise-sorrow that one capable of exerting so powerful an influence upon the interests of popular education, should have been led so far astray respecting its essential principles and ends--and with surprise, that the advocate and propagator of such radical errors in philosophy and religion should have received such unusual posthumous honours in the Old Bay State.

What more fitting inscription than the following could have been placed on the monument, erected, as it has been said, by the contributions of school children, and occupying a place in the State House enclosure, opposite a statue of the renowned Webster

“ HE DID WHAT HE COULD TO OBLITERATE FROM THE YOUTHFUL MIND THE NOTION OF THE PROVIDENTIAL GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD, AND TO BRING INTO EXERCISE THE NOBLE BUT NEGLECTED FACULTY OF CAUSALITY!”

ART. V.-Imperfect Rights and Obligations as related to

Church Discipline.

The distinction of Perfect and Imperfect Rights and Obligations has long been recognized in jurisprudence and ethics. It is simply this. A Perfect Right is one which may be enforced, and which we may apply adequate power to enforce, either personal, legal, judicial, executive, as the case may require. An Imperfect Right is so named because it cannot be so enforced. In equity it may be as valid for the possessor, as binding upon others, as a Perfect Right—morally, in foro conscientiæ et Dei, it may be as complete and obligatory as any other. But if those from whom it is due to us, refuse or neglect to render it, there is no remedy. We cannot realize or enforce it. However great the wrong of being denied this right, there is no help for it, except to bear it patiently, and commit our cause to Him who judgeth righteously.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »