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suppose the event of dissolution would bave proved actually coincident in point of time and circumstance with the imaginary announcement of it, had it not been for the skill and address of Dr. Hufeland, who, by giving the patient opiates, so as to throw him asleep till the critical period had passed, thus prevented death, which he saw visibly approaching. On waking from sleep, the narrator says, the youth eagerly inquired the time of day; and finding that the destined hour had passed, he immediately lost his hallucination, and his life was thus saved.
It will be obvious to our readers, that this explanation is offered of some thoroughly attested facts, not with a view of encouraging that scepticism which would deny and deride occasional interposition out of the natural order of things,—but for the purpose of discountenancing that disposition which some persons manifest to believe every idle tale which superstition or knavery may invent,--and to serve as a reply to what otherwise might be considered as an unanswerable appeal to actual observation and fact. It is even said, that an individual died not long since, on the very day of Mr. Abernethy's prediction, which was announced somewhat after the following manner: “ Leave of absence for a month, friend !-why this day fortnight you will be a dead man!" Now we should be glad to hear from any person the most disposed to put faith in prescience, whether the announcer meant any thing more in this case-or knew any thing more about it, -than that, from his appearance, the probability was, the man whose death-warrant was thus signed, would not survive above a week or two.
But we find ourselves compelled to bring this article to a conclusion, having no space for further expansion of the notes we made in perusing the rather interesting, although not very well written volume which has elicited these remarks. Its Author, we must just add, is a strenuous defender of the fasting practice; so much so, that he almost unhesitatingly avows his desire for the return of Roman rites and Catholic ordinances, because the practice of periodical fasting is a wholesome injunction! The expression of this desire will be taken by some persons as a fearful sign of the present times. For ourselves, however, we continue fearless. Wellington may unrivet their chains ; Cobbett may defend their Church ; and Dr. Forster may approve their diet and regimen ;-but neither Pope nor Pagan shall prevail !
Art. IV. Aids to Developement; or Mental and Moral Instruction
exemplificd in Conversations between a Mother and her Children.
2 vols. 12mo. pp. 572. Price 12s. London, 1829. OUR
UR ancestors believed, that the great object of education
was the formation of character. Whatever faculties existed in man, bodily or mental, they considered it as their duty to cultivate. In their schools, they provided for the body, manly exercises; for the understanding, the studies of logic and mathematics; for the creative powers, the study of that which is the greatest manifestation of them, language; for the will, the study of religion. The spirits who threw such glory over the fifteenth, sixteenth, and one large moiety of the seventeenth century, were trained upon this principle. And in whatever other merits their descendants have excelled them, for strength of sinew, for energy of thought, and energy of action, we certainly have never since looked upon their like.
The next period to this, however, was a very important one. As the age preceding the Reformation, the age of the Reformation itself, and that which immediately followed it, were destined, in the counsels of Divine providence, to be eminent in spiritual energy, so, the cighteenth century was to be that which should bring to light innumerable improvements in mechanism.
It would be more than ridiculous, it would be impious, to complain of the age, because this task was allotted to it, rather than those more noble and glorious ones which the foregone times had achieved. It was most desirable that circuitous routes to important ends should be exchanged for shorter ones; that simple and convenient methods should be exchanged for clumsy methods. But out of this good came forth an evil. men are much more apt to be vain of that which they invent, than of that which they discover, the men of the eighteenth century became eminently more self-conceited and contemptuous, than those were who preceded them. Instead of admiring their predecessors for accomplishing such wonderful feats with so few advantages, against such a tremendous resistance; --instead of seeing what a vast spiritual power must have car. ried them forward when they had so little help from mechanical appliances ;-instead of coveting their energy to direct their own skill, they laughed at those giants for the heaviness of the swords with which they hewed down so many opposers, and actually exulted in being unable to wield them. Pride brought its own punishment. The new and improved methods were worthless in themselves; they were useful only by bringing great ends sooner to pass; and when the ends were forgotten, they became converted into instruments for promoting mere selfish
and sordid interests,--absolutely insufficient for the higher object of cultivating the soul.
When men began to consider mechanism as all-important, and spirit as nothing, Education became a synonime of Instruction. How to classify and arrange,-how to cram the greatest quantity into the mind in the shortest time,-how to get over a given portion of ground in a certain number of hours ;—these became the great problems, which were solved by a thousand empirical system-mongers, all equally plausible in their means, and all about equally careless of the end.
The public endowed schools which our ancestors bequeathed to us, were still witnesses in favour of the true principle; but they were not faithful witnesses. The mechanical fever of the age had seized them also; and under its influence, they lost nearly all recollection of the ends of their institution. Only there was this peculiarity in their symptoms, that they clung to the old methods, merely because they were old, when better might have been formed; while the empirical innovators proposed to change them and the objects of education together.
This evil state of things has lasted in England till the present moment. Its existence has been protracted by a discovery which we must still regard as immeasurably important, though the fruits of it as yet have been feeble, and though it has produced this accidental evil consequence. We mean the discovery, that the poorer classes have a right to be educated. This persuasion took hold of men's minds at the time when the evil system we have been describing was in its highest and rankest state; and it is not perhaps surprising, that, in the vanity of benevolence, they should have declined asking themselves too curiously, what that education was worth, of which they were about to extend the benefits. Certain it is, that, in the works of Joseph Lancaster, the principle of substituting for true education,—the culture of the soul,-mere instruction or discipline, is carried to a height which it cannot easily go beyond.
Meanwhile, however, an important change had taken place in another country, Switzerland. Every body has heard the name of Pestalozzi ; and it has been hawked about of late on all booksellers' counters, and in all newspapers ; but we apprehend, that very erroneous notions are entertained of him and of what he achieved. He was not the inventor of a system; he was not the discoverer of any new truth. To suppose that he was the first, is the error of some quacks who have prostituted his name in this country: to suppose that he was even the second, is an exaggeration of his merit, which has proceeded from the affection of his foreign disciples. His great glory was, to revive the truth which animated our forefathers, and which had so long slept in our minds; that the business of education is to educe
the feelings and powers; in short, to form the man. His subsidiary merit is, that he has pointed out to instructors the order in which the faculties of the child develop themselves, and that he has furnished them with hints as to the best method of bringing those faculties to light. These hints are of course exceedingly valuable, because they are drawn from the long experience of an humble and diligent man who devoted himself, body and soul, to the work which he had undertaken. But they do not make up a system; he never regarded them in that light; he was miserable whenever it occurred to him, that others might so consider them. His work was to guide the instructors, not to fetter them; and it is precisely for this reason that we recommend the study of his works to all instructors. Many of his plans, they will find, may be improved by their own experience; aitd, as they were intended for Switzerland, no one who understands the importance of national characteristic differences, will import any of them unchanged into England. It would require a long study, to ascertain exactly the changes which would be necessary; but, speaking at random, we should say, that a somewhat tougher discipline, with a somewhat more palpable exhibition of religion than seemed to have entered into Pestalozzi's scheme, would be necessary in order to give due prominence to some of the more important elements in our national character.
The book at the head of our article, proceeds upon the Pestalozzian principle, that the development of the faculties is the object of education. It contains a series of conversations between a mother and her children, in which (with a few exceptions which we think blemishes) the children are not taught, but led to think for themselves. The preface states, that the book is intended less for children, than for parents, who are to use it, not as a manual, but simply as a guide to assist them in discovering the best methods of educating their own children. Any other view of the book would have been inconsistent with the scheme upon which it professes to be written; and in this view, we think it may be extremely useful.
A faultless work of this kind, or one nearly faultless, would, in the first place, be impossible, and in the second, mischievous, because it would lead instructors to trust more to it than to their own resources. The experiment of drawing out the powers of a child, is no easy one, as every person knows who has made it; and it saves so much trouble, occasionally to insert a little of our own when we ought to be seeking what is in the child, that no one has yet entirely resisted the temptation. The Writers of the “ Aids to Development” have evidently felt it strongly, and occasionally have yielded to it. These deviations, however, as they do not constitute by any means a large propor
tion of the work, and as the readers are warned very emphatically in the preface to expect them, will be almost as useful to intelligent parents in the way of beacons, as the more consistent and valuable parts of the book will be in the way of guide-posts. For this reason, as well as for the excellence of its design and general execution, we cordially recommend the work to those who think for themselves. To those who do not, of course, like all other works, it will be useless or dangerous.
The religious conversations, which constitute more than half the book, are arranged with great skill, and for the most part inculcate doctrines which we warmly approve; but they are, perhaps, more open to the objection we have mentioned, than the rest of the volumes. Nevertheless, few of those to whom the work is addressed, and to whom we have recommended it, will fail to derive great benefit from the perusal of them; and, as mere pieces of divinity, many of them are highly interesting.
These conversations embrace various subjects of education, and are held between a mother and her children, who differ from each other both in age and dispositions. We give the following with the youngest of the family, as the most convenient in point of length, though by no means the best specimen of the style in which the book is written.
• INFANT DEVELOPMENT AND ARITHMETIC. • Mamma. Come, my little boy, tell me what this is ? Edward. My hand, mamma. Mamma. And how many
you two of any thing else? Edward. Two holes in my nose, mamma.
Mamma. Those are called nostrils, my dear; and how you got of those fat, rosy things on each side of your nose?
Edward. Oh, two cheeks, mamma.
have two? Edward. Two shoulders, mamma.
Mamma. And what is between your shoulders and your hands, Edward ?
Edward. Elbows, mamma, and two wrists also. Mamma. Look about you, and you will find several more things, of which
have two. Edward. Two thumbs, mamma.
Mamma. Put your hands on your face, and find me some more things there, of which you have two also ?
Edward. I said eyes, cheeks, and nostrils; oh, there is the skin that covers my eyes.