« ПредишнаНапред »
Art. VIII. Thoughts on Education. By Maria Benson. 12mo. pp. 240. Price 5s, bds. Boothroyd, Pontefract; Longman and Co.; Williams
and Co. THIS Lady does not pretend.“ to offer a regular system on
education, but merely to point out those things which she esteems defective and erroneous in the modern plans of instruction.” Had the execution of her work possessed a merit corresponding to the rectitude of her principles, we must have announced it with unqualified approbation ; but we are concerned to find, in a treatise of so useful a tendency, so many blemishes in composition and style Oar author very properly censures the neglect of tutors to instruct the young in the elementary sounds of their native tongue; yet she herself seems incapable of discerning an aspirated h. Nor are her sentences so correctly constructed as always to convey definite ideas of her meaning. We read with ds much candour and patience, as men of our occupation can be supposed capable of exercising, but we confess we were thoroughly wearied by the tautological introduction of “ Young people ought." There is also a deplorable inaptitude in the facts which Mrs. B. advances, with the design of supporting certain positions. A short extract from one of the amiable Duke of Burgundy's letters to his banished tutor, which contains nothing that might not have been uttered by any man of sensibility who admitted the idea of a superintending providence, is pompously brought forward as an incontrovertible evidence of the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the human heart. In recommendation of children being instructed in drawing, we have a warm eulogium on portrait painting: and in proof of the advantages to be derived from a knowledge of music, we are favoured with the account of a young infidel being roused to serious reflection, and finally reclaimed, by hearing airs which reminded him of his deceased mother, and her long-unheeded precepts. In her chapter on reading, Mrs. Benson gives us a collection, rather than a selection of books, which in her opinion may be admitted into the juvenile library: we shall not pretend to say that these volumes are distinguished because our author was not acquainted with others, though we certainly cannot give any reason more satisfactory for the preference of some articles in the catalogue. “ The Asiatic Researches, by the late Sir W. Jones," is not, we apprehend, peculiarly adapted for the use of the juvenile reader; it would seem from Mrs.B.'s mode of announce ing it, that she considered him as the sole author of that work. We beg leave to refer her to Mrs. More's Strictures on Keate's. Narrative of the Pellew Islands. Few Voyages are admissible into a school-room, on account of that indelicacy which is.
mingled, more or less, in all accurate descriptions of savage
The following extract we select as a favourable specimen of Mrs. Benson's talents.
« On the immense disparity that exists between man and his Creator, they should be led further to reflect, that even the most exalted in mind, rank, or fortune, are preserved by the bounty of their heavenly Father, and as the creatures of an hour, are liable to be torn from all which they possess at any moment, when he sees fit to call them from hence ; nay more, that they may during the present state of being be deprived of these advantages ;--that poverty may come as an armed man, and the shafts of sickness may enter their dwelling, depriving them of those possessions in which their pride is centred, or of those faculties, whose superiority they painly boasi. .Children are not sufficiently impressed with the nothingness of those things, respecting which persons disquiet themselves so much in vain Almost as soon as they are capable of making observations, they behold the homage that is paid to external circumstances, that rank and fortune are the grand objects to which mankind direct their attention, and that possessed of these, an individual seldom fails to secure the outward marks of respect ;---that the rich and the great of this world, be their principles and character what they may, are followed and caressed, whilst true meritlanguishes in obscurity. - Is it wonderful then, with such examples before their eyes, that children should grow up with corrupted dispositions and perverted judgments? from the outward survey which they early begin to take, they look inward, and examining their own situation, attainments, and prospects, imagine they see those qualifications in themselves, which entitle them to a high degree of distinction. " • They enter into society, where they mingle with those who have been educated on equally erroneous principles, and from a continual competition for precedency, they are exposed to incessant mortification. Every instance of respect, which is shewn to another, and from which they are ex. cluded, renders them miserable, and from envying they begin to hate the object of their rivalry. From an unworthy ambition to rank with those above their own level, they sink below it, and inordinate in their self-esteem, find few whose attention to them is sufficient to gratify it; and the least estimable characters whom they could probably have selected, those few will in general prove to be. None will punish themselves so far as to bear with the insolence of pride, but those who have some sinister view, which it is their immediate purpose to answer.
How coinmon is the observation, when speaking of this detestable vice, 6 that every one would wish to have a proper pride." This too is so frequently repeated in the presence of children, till they at length consider pride as a quality, which it is essentially necessary they should possess. But what is meant by a proper pride? The persons who use the term, will not find, if they search the scriptures, which ought to be the rule of their cone duct, that any pride, of whatever species, is there commended. St. Paul, 'in writing to the Philippians, says, “ In lowliness of mind, let each esteem Others better than themselves." *** But if the proper pride, of which persons speak, is that principle which
**s to raise them above the meanness of committing an unworthy action, it may be observed, that by a much higher principle than human pride, must the heart be restrained from any evil tendency, to which it is prone. And in. deed, in most characters, where pride seems a predominant feature, much meanness of conduct is discernible.'
A large proportion, however, of the " Thoughts on Educa. tion" are very excellent. The chapter on - Candour and Prejudice” has peculiar merit. The author's grand and uniform object is to form the Christian character; she seems deeply sensible of the arduous, but important nature of her task; and offers a variety of valuable and pious remarks which we may very properly recommend to parents in general, as deserving their careful consideration in ihe discharge of their momentous duties.
Art. IX. The Peasant's Death ; or, a Visit to the House of Mourning: and other Poems. By John Struthers (Gorbals) 8vo. pp. 112.
Price 2s. 6d. Ogle, Glasgow; Ogle, London. THE favourable opinion expressed in our review of Mr.
Struthers's former production, the Poor Man's Sabbath, (Vol. II. p. 742) is for the most part applicable to the poem now before us. If it never rises to a splendid exhibition of genius, it never sinks into triteness or vulgarity. Its principal charm is the fidelity with which it represents the closing scene of a pious cottager's life ; a subject so tenderly inte. resting requires no ornament in the recital to awaken the sympathy of a benevolent reader, and summon the compassionate tear. The minute particularity of the description assumes at times an air of naïveté, which in other connexions might seem too familiar or low, but has here the effect of giving a pathetic reality to the narrative, which can never be produced by vague and lofty declamation. Having described the sickness of the peasant, and the wife's anxieties, Mr. S. depicts the simple occupations of the last evening with an artless truth, which will be sure of its impression on all who are experienced in the afflictions of domestic life. The circumstances mentioned in the third stanza are deemed ominous by peasants in many parts of the country; the season of winter is judi, ciously selected to harmonize with the subject.
• But first the children must be put to bed ;
For drowsy languors, listless, o'er them creep;
Nor trick, nor tale, to shift the hour of sleep. .
Still, little John, her eldest boy, will keep, . .
Will listen to her plaint, and with her weep,
Or dwell with transport on her transient smile,
Yet, soon o'ercome, he too begins to doze,
His closing eyes confess the drowsy power,
For tir'd attention can apply no more. .
Then, solitary, all the long night o'er,
Listening, at times, the wild wind's stormy roar,
The rattling hail behind the chimney rings,
All mournful, sweep from echo's airy strings.
Shrill Chanticleer, unwonted, claps his wings,
Sudden the jattering door wide open flings,
She rises up to gon-she knows not where,
Which yet she cannot for the blinding tear.
Out to the night she looks; there all is drear,
Terrific Winter rides the groaning air,
pp. 16.–18. In the description of the dying peasant's evening devotions, the following stanzas allude to his reading the scriptures, and to those divine truths which only, at such a moment, can afford consolation.
• In words like these his cry to God is sent,
Before whose throne found waiting he would be ;
O wherefore hid'st Thou thus Thy face from me ?”
Then to the page, proclaiming pardon free
He turns--but this his spouse must read, for her
Tears falling oft, with heavy sobs between,
A man of woe and matchless grief was seen;
Our sorrows bearing, mock'd by miscreants mean,
Dragg’d, in ridiculous purple--with th' unclean . .
But now alive, on the right hand of power,
With majesty encircled, He appears; ..
And the dread keys of hell and death he wears;
And still the meek and tender heart He bears
He guides their weary wanderings, counts their tears,
The perusal of this simple poem will undoubtedly interest and gratify every candid reader.
"A Tale” follows, in heroic verse, relating a small part of the miseries introduced into domestic life by a state even i of distant warfare. The other “ Poems” are of a lyrical kind,
addressed to Fancy, Vanity, Poverty, Content; with an ode for the Paisley Burns Anniversary Society; they are not without merit.
The diction is pleasingly Doricized by a slight admixture of Scotish terms; the word “ crood” expresses far more happily than the English" coo" the plaintire note of the y cushat,” or wood pigeon. The rhymes are not unfrequently very incorrect; " iron, learn-not, anticipate--rapture, scriptureare grievous offences against the ear of an English reader. A few pertinent notes are included in this cheap and unpretending publication. Art. X. Hints to the Public, and the Legislature, on the Nature and Effect
of Evangelical Preaching. By a Barrister. Part the First., 8vo. pp. 147.
Price 3s. 6d. Johnson. 1808. : WE wish that those who employ the word Evangelical as
a term of reproach, would favour the world with their definition of it, and cite their authority for giving it a meaning of which any one who preaches at all should be a,hamed. They are much mistaken if they think that it hurts the feelings, of those to whom they affix it; and we would, therefore, recominend them to spare themselves the guilt of prostituting a term that has pretensions to be considered as sacred, by : having recourse to the ancient collectanea of slander, for a nick-name which will better suit their spleen.
Of all the endeavours to hold up to ridicule those essential doctrines of Christianity which have been, either seriously or scoffingly, termed Evangelical, which are asserted in the Articles of our venerable establishment, and nominally maintained by almost the whole body of Christians, the present is perhaps the most contemptible. The author has not sufficient knowledge of the matter on which he writes, to avoid the grossest violations of piety and cominon sense; nor of the