« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
when the crisis for action arrives, let them raise their voice, and make it to be heard above all the clamor for war, distinctly, calmly, one. Nothing would be more worthy of them; nothing would contribute more to general civilization ; nothing would so efficiently promote the advancement of religion and virtue; and nothing would so forcibly place the future, which would be the history of benevolence and peace, in contrast with the past, which is the history of blood-shedding and murder.
6 So far as America and England are concerned, peace, intercourse, and union should be employed and sanctified as means of energetic co-operation for the conversion of the world. This is the end to which we should be steadfastly looking in all our intercourse; and, great as this end is, it may be thus contemplated without despondency. These nations are singularly prepared by Providence · for this high service; so much so, indeed, as to indicate that it is
consigned to their hands. Where shall we find two nations placed so advantageously on the surface of the globe to this end? Where shall we find them in possession of so much of the world's commerce, which is a direct means to this end? Where shall we find a people whose civil and religious institutions are so prepared to bless mankind? And where shall we find any people who are so ready, by desire and effort, as these, to bestow whatever makes them distinguished and happy upon all other nations? Blot out England and America from the map of the world, and you destroy all those great institutions which almost exclusively promise the world's renovation; but, unite England and America in energetic and resolved co-operation for the world's salvation, and the world is saved.
“ It is not only important that they should render these services : they should render them in union. It should be felt that what the one does, the other virtually does also; and the very names, indicating the two people, should be a sort of synonyme, which might be applied to the same works. The service is arduous; the difficulties are great; and the adversary of liberty, light, and religion, should be suffered to gain neither advantage nor confidence, by regarding us as separable. We shall have more relative, and more real power, by acting together. In this connection, one and one make more than two; they exert a triple force against every opposing obstacle.
“Here, then, is the province of these two great countries. They are to consult, act, and labor in union for the conversion and blessedness of the world. For this they are made a people; for this they are evangelized; for this they are privileged, and blessed themselves. Theirs is no common destiny; and theirs should be no common ambition. They are to find their greatness, not in the de. gradation of other nations, but in raising them to an elevation of being which they have not known. They should rise from the patriot into the philanthropist, and express love to man from love to his Maker. Great as they then would be, their greatness would not create fear, but admiration and confidence; and He who made them great would not withhold his approbation.
“Let them look to this! Let no one 'take their crown. Let the man that would enkindle strife between them, be deemed an enemy alike to both countries. Let them turn away from the trivial and
the temporary; and look on the great, the good, the abiding. Let them faithfully accomplish their high commission, and theirs will be a glory such as Greece, with all her Platonic imaginings, never sought; and such as Rome, with all her real triumphs, never found.”
PROFESSOR CALDWELL'S ADDRESS. An Address, delivered before the trustees and students, at the annual
commencement of Dickinson college, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, July 16, 1835. By MERRITT CALDWELL, A. M., professor of the exact sciences.
The cause of education, for its prosperity, depends on the interest taken in it by its friends; and when it is thought how much all are indebted to it, it might at first seem strange that it should ever want the encouragement which it is in their power to give. But when we look out upon the jarring interests of community,—the noise and strife which pervade the business world ;— when we see the rush there is to improvement, to discovery, to invention, to every thing indeed that can interest the feelings, promote pecuniary advantage, or add to the pleasures of sense, we find a satisfactory solution of the fact. Indeed, we see even the devotees of learning in danger of being turned aside by these counter influences; and any of those who are called to mingle in these commotions, and to listen to the world's discordant harmony, may well consider themselves fortunate, if they have never felt the paralyzing influence of these things on their love of letters.
It is then good for us to be here,-good for us thus to turn aside to commune with the days of our youth, and to shake hands with those associations which the memory of the past will always hold dear. Were it not for occasions like the present, we might forget the interest we have in the cause of learning, and devote ourselves exclusively to the world. But the recurrence of these reminds us of our obligations, calls us back to our duty, and makes us feel that we have an alliance with society more strong than the feeble tenure by which we hold our lives, and that our influence may be felt in the generations that are to come after us. Associating, as I do, such ideas with the occasion that has called us together, I should consider it little less than sacrilege to attempt to amuse my audience with the figures of rhetoric, or to while away the hour in idle speculations or visionary theories. I have assumed to myself the graver task of pointing out some of the practical errors connected with intellectual education. And here I will premise, that I shall consider education not as confined to the learning derived from books, or that communicated by set lessons of instruction; but as embracing a}l the means by which the mind is improved, its susceptibilities developed, or its views expanded ; and extending consequently from the early lessons gathered from parental precept and example, up to that mental discipline which is implied in the term self-education.
With this explanation, the first error to which I shall call your attention, is that which leads the scholar to too sudden a rush from truth to causes. It often happens, that truth is not remarkably difficult to be substantiated. Observation, even though careless, teaches
Vol. VII.-- January, 1836. 8
us a thousand truths,-a thousand facts, which are fully established without any reference to their causes. And by consciousness we become acquainted with another class of truths, connected with our mental operations. Well established truths, then, of various kinds, may exist, without ever leading the mind to the contemplation of their cause. Thus, for example, the savage knows well, that his arrow when hurled will return to the ground, though he may never have thought of the cause that draws it downward; and the most unthinking rustic, too, is fully aware that those things which interest his feelings most deeply are the things to which the memory adheres the most readily and the most strongly, without even thinking whether there be any cause for this, or not.
But the intellect of man is an inquisitive principle. Truth will not long be before the intelligent mind, without leading to an inquiry for the cause; nor is the mind patient of long delay in its researches. Hence the importance of caution and watchful care. For want of these, facts are gften attempted to be accounted for on wrong principles, and false causes are assigned. This has come in as a fruitful source of error in every department of science; and giant minds have been compelled to waste their strength in combatting and doing away errors which have had such an origin. Even the leading truths connected with the philosophy of the mind, have but recently been traced to their true causes; and many are the phenomena, witnessed both in the intellectual and natural, as well as in the moral world, the causes of which are still left for true philosophy to dis. cover, notwithstanding the many hasty solutions already given.
Not only are causes radically wrong often assigned to explain known truths ; but general laws,—which, if deserving the name of causes at all, are only nominal,-have often been assigned as the satisfactory causes of the things to be explained. Gravity, electricity, magnetism, vitality, vegetation, etc., when referred to as ultimate causes of natural phenomena, are of this description. The mere pretender to learning is full of this kind of causes; and the boasting pedant is the last one to say in relation to any thing, however abstruse, that he does not know the cause. How different this from the spirit of true philosophy! Hear the concession of Mr. Locke, that Hercules in mental science,-a concession which the half-educated would think too humiliating for himself to make : " He that knows any thing,” says he, “knows this in the first place, that he need not seek long for instances of his ignorance. The meanest and most obvious things that come in our way, have dark sides that the quickest sight cannot penetrate into. The clearest and most enlarged understandings of thinking men find themselves puzzled and at a loss in every particle of matter."
A leading cause of the error to which we have referred is found in that mental indolence that refuses to search for remote causes,that refuses to go back behind the scene, and to contemplate the hidden wires which in truth move the whole apparatus, but which are concealed by the curtain which intervenes. It is not then an error of reason, but of indolence. It however puts into the hand of the designing a most dangerous weapon, and one which he too often uses to ruin the unwary and the young. Few mature intellects have ever been themselves deceived by this kind of sophistry;
but many, how many! have had to employ their powers in counteracting the influence of early prejudices which have had such an origin; and to exercise the philosophy peculiar to gifted souls, in rejecting and dashing from them errors which have come up from childhood with them, growing with their growth, and strengthening with their strength.
To him who in the pursuit of truth would be able clearly to trace facts to their true causes; and thus avoid the errors which are everywhere found among the ignorant and the superficial, extensive knowledge is absolutely necessary. Nothing can supply the place of this. But, in addition, the power of patient investigation and an honest love of the truth are needed. The fact that men of profound learning and extensive knowledge have long continued in error, abundantly proves that candor and patience are not less necessary to lead us into truth, than knowledge itself.
Another power, to him who would be able to trace back facts to their true causes, is exceedingly important; and that is, the power to suspend judgment. To this we are peculiarly reluctant. Not only is there a feeling of impatience in the mind which prevents it, and a degree of mental indolence which it is not easy to overcome; but with most mere superficial scholars there is a pride in exhibiting a readiness on all important questions, which prevents them from the exercise of careful inquiry, till they have committed themselves; and till they are thus disqualified to make truth the object of their research. Bacon, and Euler, and Locke, and Newton, and Reid, and Franklin, had the power of predicating their judgments on full and mature reflection. Nor will he who would cultivate a philosophic mind, deviate much from the course they have marked out for him. The truth is, we often have to acknowledge our ignorance. The causes of a thousand things are designedly hid from us, and of a thousand others are so remote, as to require time and care to search them out.
Another popular error connected with education is, that useful learning can be acquired without intellectual effort. This error is not often expressed in words, though in practice it has prevailed to a fearful extent. It is the counterpart of that which would deprive the student of the necessary aids to improvement, that the whole might be the result of his unaided effort. Each of these systems has had its turn. While the latter only delayed the student in his progress, and threw unnecessary discouragements in his way; the former has had a much more pernicious influence in lowering the standard of education, debilitating the mind, and thus disqualifying the individual for the more responsible and arduous duties of life. This principle has found its way into every department of learning, from the infant school to the university,—from the A B C to the learned profession.
For instance, go into the infant schools of our cities, and hear children, almost as soon as they can speak at all, taught to talk about rectangles, prisms, and parallelograms, or about meridians and ecliptics; or hear them chant the tables of arithmetic, or repeat the unintelligible dogmas of the catechism; as though the sublime truths of geometry, astronomy, and theology, could be embraced by the infant mind, and mathematics and religion consisted in names alone, Sure one would think this must be the “royal road to learning." Again, go into the primary schools of our country, and see there the rising youth conning the lessons of their grammars, or spelling book; or endeavoring to cipher through their arithmetics, by learning the rules and getting the answers to the sums. Here the process is as mechanical as are the motions of the automaton; nor does it differ from them more in any other particular, than in the want of correctness in its results. Instances of the same error are to be seen in those who would learn the application of mathematical principles, without first attending to the elements; or who would become proficients in the natural sciences, without going abroad to look at nature as she is. The error thus far seems to consist in not accurately distinguishing between names and ideas, and in substituting the exercise of memory for judgment and reason; and the blame in these cases attaches principally to teachers, who should never permit a pupil to enter upon or prosecute the investigation of any subject, which he is not fully prepared to understand.
A similar effect is produced on the minds of most of their students, by those institutions which render effort unnecessary for obtaining their highest honors. And in this respect, no system is perhaps so faulty as that of communicating instruction by lectures. This does well in lyceums, and on other occasions where the object is to illustrate by experiment, or to communicate general instruction on popular subjects; but to give it the place it has in at least one class of institutions in our country, is but to substitute the interesting for the useful, and to open another “royal road to learning.” Even the profound mysteries of the law, which can be illustrated neither by diagrams nor skeletons, are taught by lectures, and this method of instruction is introduced into many other schools. Judging from the immediate results, we might suppose some magical influence attached to this system ; for the process of making what they call educated or professional men goes on in these schools with as much regularity at least as any mechanical process; and the regular graduation and bestowment of honors is much more uniform, than where personal effort is called into requisition, and personal excellence made the rigid test of success.
One hour of close application to the pages of Homer, or to the demonstrations of Euclid, is preferable to a dozen lectures ; and a thorough recitation to one deeply read in law or medicine, and well versed in its practice, will give more practical instruction to a student in these departments, than any lecture which can be delivered. Godman, whom, though a distinguished anatomist, no profession can elaim, but whose name remains as a legacy to the nation, and to the world, was not made in the lecture room.
He built his own stature, made himself. He has himself given us his early history, in a letter to a friend.“ Before I was two years old," says he, “ I was motherless ;-before I was five years old I was fatherless and friendless. I have been deprived of property by fraud, that was mine by right. I have eaten the bread of misery, I have drunk the cup of sorrow. I have passed the flower of my days in a state little better than slavery, and arrived at what? Manhood, poverty, and desolation,”* Such * Quoted from the N. A. Review, for Jan. 1835. Art, Memoir of Dr. Godman.