« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
PR E F A cЕ.
THOUGH a conductor of a school may be
qualified by his experience to write on the subject of Education; yet there are circumstances arising from the nature of his engage. ments, which render the undertaking extremely delicate. While he recommends any particular mode, it will be supposed, that he is obliquely recommending his own plan, and consulting little more than his own interest. If he suggests a hint derogatory from the merit of any new and fashionable method, or places of instruction, he will appear to some, to be actuated by envy, and to be artfully inviting pupils to his own roof. Many can see and attribute to selfish motives, a passage which has a tendency to promote the writer's advantage, though they may be incompetent judges of the propriety of the sentiment, or of the advice which it conveys.
It is indeed a truth to be lamented, that few of us are so improved by philosophy, though we study and admire it, as not to feel the influence of interested motives. Interest insensibly blinds the understanding, and often impels the judge ment to decide unjustly, without the guilt of intention. I will not arrogate so much, as to suppose myself exempted from one of the most powerful principles of action which stimulate a 4
the huinan heart. But I will say, that I have endeavoured to divest myself of every improper prcpofesion, and to write the dictates of my conviction, and the refult of my experience. To some share of experience he may without arrogance pretend; whole life has been spent with little interruption in places of education; at fchool, as a learner; at college, as a student; and again at school, as a master.
That I have notwithstanding frequently erred, is but too probable; and I am sure I should have profited little from observation, if I had not remarked the folly of presumptuous confidence. I am ready, therefore, to acknowledge my mistakes upon conviction. Truth is my object; and if I have not yet discovered truth, it is still equally desirable, and will be welcomed whenever it shall be pointed out by more fuccessful enquirers.
Some apology may be thought necessary for the number of quotations in the notes. All I can advance in my defence is, that they were not introduced from oitentation, but to confirm my opinions. I was indeed desirous of securing fome elegance and fonie authority to my book, by giving them a place in it.
I have from the same motive made additions to the notes in every succeeding edition: and, in consequence of a particular request, the mottos, and most of the citations from the antient writers, are translated.
One volume having encreased beyond the due fize, I was advised to divide the matter into two; but to this I cculd not confent; without making some additions. As the state of the universities is of great importance to liberal education, I have made many free remarks on them, relying on the protection of the generous Public at large, against the pride, prejudice, and resentment of those who may think their dignity sullied by the freedom of iny censure..
It is but justice to acknowledge, that in speaking of the universities, I chiefly, though not entirely, allude to that of Oxford, of which I am an useless member.
tanquam . Mancus, et extinctæ corpus non utile dextræ.
from pure motives. I have nothing either to hope or to fear from any university. I am attached to that of which I am a member, 'on many accounts, and esteem all universities as institutions, which, in the original design, redound not only to the honour of the nations in which they are encouraged, but of human nature. Do I act the part of an enemy in endeavouring to recover their true lustre, and to remove the abuses which length of time has gradually introduced ? I censure no particular persons. I lament, as I believe many resident members do, that the magistrates are so embarrafled by useless forms and customs, and so entangled by antiquated Statutes, that they cannot act according to their better judgments, in rendering the places efficient for the purposes of a virtuous and learned education. I have reason to believe,
that those who poffefs most power and reputation in universities, think as I do on the subject of their defects and corruptions, and that they would readily co-operate in producing the reformation, if they were not unwilling to incur the odium which attends the character of an oftensible reformer. But though I am persuaded that my attempt will meet with secret approbation from the most respectable persons, yet at the same time, I cannot but expect to excite in others an implacable enmity; for what is it to oppose old establishments like the universities, with which dignified persons and great families are intimately connected, but to contend against
Defendit numerus junctæque umbone phalanges.
Juv. It is somewhere observed, that it is particu. larly imprudent to offend public bodies of men; that individuals forgive or forget, or if they should not, that their resentment dies with themselves; that their power of revenge is circumscribed within narrow limits; but that public bodies, by perpetual succession, become immortal, that they render their resentment traditionary, and that their collected power is able essentially to injure every single antagonist. Of this I am convinced; but having engaged in the cause, whether rafhly or from good inotives, let events determine, I am not inclined to Ihrink from a fear of any consequences, however formidable. The inprovement of education, and the reformation of the universities, are
great national objects; and to have been instru. mental in any degree to their accomplishment, will furnish a source of satisfactory refection *
The universities certainly claim particular at. tention in every book on the subject of a Liberal Education; for as rivers flow into the ocean, so fchools are emptied into univerfities; and it is of great consequence to the collected youth of the nation, the hopes of the rising age, that universities should be preserved in a Itate proper.
* Τας επιδόσεις των τεχνών, και των αλλων απάντων ορώμεν γινομένας ου δια τους καθεσωσι εμμένοντας άλλα δια τους επανορθουντας, και αιεί τολμώντας κινέιν τι των μη καλως exortus
ISOCRATES. It is by continual efforts that human affairs are preserved in a state of tolerable perfection. They have a natural tendency to degenerate. It becomes necessary, in the revolutions of ages, to point out errors and correct them; but he who undertakes the office, is in danger of incuring peculiar dislike. The cenfure which he insinuates, though general, will be applicable to many individuals; and all who fear a disturbance of their indolent repose, or a prohibition of their improper conduct, will naturally unite in perfecuting the writer who attempts the reformation.
The fear of this odium causes a connivance at abuses and errors which are too obvious to escape notice. Evils long allowed, like fome noxious weeds, strike a root so deeply that they can scarcely be removed. If, however, the odium consequent on the attempt, or the difficulty of succeeding in it, were utterly to preclude it, the advances to core ruption and ruin mult at length become rapid and irresistible.