Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

rara

applications, and show the “modes of teaching." This Mr. Davis has done; and if we may judge, he has done it as well as it can be done. He is one of the “ Board of Education” in this State, and has taken a deep interest in the whole subject. His “' 'Teacher's Manual,” published a few years ago, has now been merged into this large book. “ It has been my purpose,” he says in the Preface, to come directly to the aid of the Common School teacher, to lay out his work, and to tell him how it is to be done.” The chief doubt that we have, as to the efficacy of any such attempt, arises from that peculiar characteristic of teachers, that they won't be taught. The true “ avis" is the teacher who does not know more about teaching than anybody can tell him. Of course, we speak of the profession, and we speak of them in their separate capacity. Bring them together, make a class or convention of teachers, they are willing to hear and glad to learn. But take one of them apart, especially one who has seen much service, and go with him into his own school, as Mr. Davis proposes to do if he not only hears but actually follows any advice that goes against his own rules and practice, he is one of a thousand. There has been a great improvement in this respect of late, but we imagine it is still true, and will continue to be for some time to come, that teachers do not love to be taught. This, however, only shows the more, that they need it. Greatly do they need to be taught in most.common schools — deplorably, yea laughably in some, as we could illustrate from our own little experience ; particularly in the process of examining candidates. But we should despair of finding so good a case as that of the young lady mentioned in this book, who said she had studied the dictionary "considerable," and on being asked the meaning of wedlock she replied — “ It is a thing to fasten barn-doors with."

The general good sense of this book has pleased us. manual, or special guide, there could be doubts about it; but as a book of hints and illustrations, or as supplying principles, it is valuable. No one can read it without getting some benefit, and there are those who might derive a vast deal from it. It is reasonable and judicious. It takes generous views of the minds of children, and of the discipline to which they are to be subjected. “I advise every teacher to have as few laws as possible, and those of the most reasonable kind.”. - Children are full of life and animation, and do many things contrary to a very rigid code of laws, when in fact they were only acting out the language of feeling, without any criminal intention. In such cases they deserve no punishment, unless childish heed

As a

lessness is a crime." The subject of punishment in schools is yet to be understood. Heretofore it has gone to one extreme. It may now be tending to the other. We hear of some whose peace principles are arraying themselves against all discipline. We suppose the true way is to treat children as children, and neither as slaves and devils, nor men and angels. — Another question now agitated concerns the use of the Bible in schools. On this too Mr. Davis is sensible. He would by all means retain the Bible in schools, but rather as the Bible than as a school book, if we understand him. “I think it should not be considered as a book in which the child is to be drilled in emphasis, cadence, inflection, and pauses.” Against such use we should be disposed to speak yet more strongly. We believe it not only tends to “ destroy, or rather prevent, the formation of those sacred associations that ought to cluster around the Bible,” but that it is a sort of sacrilege to turn this volume into a mere spelling-book, and cause it, as we have known it, to be stammered and hammered over by those who can neither read nor understand.

As a whole we recommend this book both to teachers and parents.

The Obligations of the World to the Bible; a Series of Lectures to Young Men. By GARDINER Spring, Pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York. 1839. 12mo. pp. 404. – There are very good things in this volume, but not in proportion to its extent, or to the importance and fruitfulness of its themes. It contains fourteen long discourses, setting forth the character and influence of the Bible, in the different views of Language, Literature, Legislative Science, Civil Liberty, Religious Liberty, Morality, Social Institutions, Slavery, Moral Science, Holiness, Spiritual Influences, the Sabbath, and Human Happiness. An immense range is this, and it is not to be wondered at, if no man can compass it satisfactorily within a single volume, or several. We are not sure that any one would have done it better than Dr. Spring has, on the ground and with the fetters in which he works. His theology colors and cramps many views with which it ought to have nothing to do. There is too much space given throughout to the depreciation and condemnation of other systems, heathen, classic, intellectual, and inoral, differing from his view of the Bible system. The wisdom of such an assertion as the following, true as it is when explained, may well be doubted. “An intelligent child of six years of age, , educated in the bosom of a Christian family, knows more on moral and religious subjects than Socrates or Plato.” Indeed the view taken by the writer of Literature and Philosophy in general, is the least satisfactory of all the views. It lacks that discrimination, without which truth is hardly truth.

We are not conscious of judging this book through any influence of sect or system. We find less to object to in that connexion than in others. As a denomination, we of course get an occasional thrust, but not very severe or direct, with the exception of the following, which is too pretty to hurt. “I look upon no small portion of the biblical criticism of the present age as a curse to the Church. Such is all the Rationalism of Germany, such is the modern Unitarianism of our own land. It is a cheerless religion, where the rose of Sharon never blooms; a black and wintry sky, where no ray from the sun of righteousness visits the sterile soil.” Alas! - as a relief to this, the Lecture on Religious Liberty and the Rights of Conscience is full of good thoughts and truly liberal views. It is something to find in such a connexion the unqualified declaration, that

A man's opinions do not admit of coercion;" and more than that is allowed and urged here. The Lecture on Slavery is one of the most important. The author confines himself wisely to the testimony and influence of the Bible on the subject, and gives these decidedly and thoroughly as he views them. He thinks that the slavery recognised, and not condemned in the Bible, was yet a system widely different from, and far more lenient than the slavery of the heathen nations then, or of some Christian nations now. He thinks it the design and influence of the Bible to ameliorate slavery wherever it finds it, and ultimately exterminate it, but only by gradual and moral means and he cautions young men against using or trusting any other means. With these views we accord only in part. We do not share his fears as to the ultimate effect of present exertions. But it is not the place to go into the matter, and we have only to say that while it is vain, and worse than vain, to look to the Bible for a simple justification of slavery as it now is, or for its perpetuation, it is equally vain and hurtful, to pretend that the Scriptures of the old or New Covenants positively condemn slavery per se, or attempt directly to annihilate it.

We commend this book most for its collection of facts and amount of information, on all the subjects which it treats. If young men, and we should emphatically add, young women, of vague, theoretical, superficial, and proportionably confident minds, would study such books in a proper temper, they could hardly fail of being profited. This is not the best work for all; for some it might not be good; but there is a class who would probably be more influenced it than by many better,

The Philosophy of Human Life. Being an Investigation of the great Elements of Life: The Power that acts, the Will that directs the Action, and the Accountability or Sanctions that influence the Formation of Volitions, etc. By Amos Dean, Professor of Medical Jurisprudence in the Albany Medical College. Boston: 1839. — The work before us bears evidence of unquestionable power and talent. The latter part of the volume we have read with great interest and pleasure. The author is unfortunate, however, in being the advocate of a system which has by no means been rendered consistent or probable, notwithstanding all the talent and ingenuity that have been bestowed upon it. To reconcile Phrenology with Philosophy is a more than Herculean task.

Professor Dean resolves all the phenomena of human life into the three great elements, Power, Will, and Accountability. The sources of Power are founded in the “ Affective Faculties," that is to say, in the propensities and emotions. These, with the intellectual faculties, to wit, perception, memory, conception, and judgment, constitute the mind.

Will is “the decision of the whole mind upon the whole matter.' To produce volition therefore, rather a complicated process is necessary. The intellectual faculties

convey the appeals made by motives to the propensities and sentiments. A conflict immediately takes place between those opposing "affective faculties,” which are thus excited to action, and the result of the combat is decision; the weaker sentiment or propensity being vanquished by the more powerful. According to the force, therefore, which a higher sentiment or a lower propensity possesses in the mind of an individual, his action will be good or bad.

Conflict our author considers as the grand law, both of the physical and the mental world. He makes volition a much more complicated process than we had supposed it. We have been accustomed to consider that for the slightest action, the motion of the smallest muscle, a distinct volition was necessary ; but we find that so far from this being the case, volition is hardly required except upon occasions of great moment. People are generally guided by habit or imitation, and some, in whom the sentiment of cautiousness is very strong, pass through life almost without a single volition.

The third part of the work, upon Accountability, if separated from the two former, with which we think it is in many respects inconsistent, would be highly valuable. If the consequences of his actions could be placed clearly before the eye of every individual; if he could be made to realize that a certain result necessarily attended a certain action; he would undoubtedly abstain from that, the result of which was evil, and choose the opposite. No man in his senses would leap over a mound, if he knew there was a precipice directly beyond it; nor would he eat of a morsel, however tempting to the sight or delicious to the taste, if he knew that it was poisonous. On the other hand, he will take a draught however bitter, if certain that its effects will be beneficial. Now, if there are certain laws which preside over and regulate our physical and moral natures, and affect us as human, social, moral, and created beings; and if the obedience to and the violation of each of these laws are attended with its appropriate and inevitable pleasures and pains, a great service is certainly rendered by setting clearly forth this necessary connexion, which is by most men little understood, or considered remote and uncertain.

The pleasures and pains which attend the obedience or violation of these laws are called by our author their sanctions. Of these there are five, the Physical, Political, Popular, Moral, and Religious; beginning at the lowest and rising in regular gradation. The physical sanction superintends the province of bodily health by the means of eight organic laws, every viola tion of each of which is attended with its appropriate penalty, and if repeated or habitual, produces severe effects, which may not be early perceived, but which are not the less certain; and may extend to the posterity of the individual. The political sanction consists in the penalties attached to crime by the laws of the land. The popular sanction is higher than the preceding, for public opinion regulates the laws. It appeals to the love of approbation. The law of honor and the laws of fashion are elements of this sanction.

The moral sanction is more elevated. It is formed by conscience or the moral sense. Mr. Dean believes in the existence of an eternal rule of right, and to this, the moral sense, however uneducated; is the sure index. In every situation in life it will point to virtue. Hence, if we do not misunderstand him, it is stronger and clearer in the unsophisticated savage, than in the inost civilized man. Education, by increasing our wants, and rendering the propensities stronger, weakens and obscures the moral sense. We are glad to find the existence of the moral sense allowed, but we think the author goes a step too far. We have an instinct within us which teaches us to love the perfect,

the beautiful of every kind. Virtue is moral beauty. But it is reason, not conscience, which teaches us what virtue is. Conscience impels us to do what we know to be right, and punishes the violation of such a course of conduct. Reason teaches what is right; the moral sense impels us to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.

« ZurückWeiter »