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toys of our forefathers, the English classics. Doubtless, however, in lieu of Shakspeare and Milton, he will be supplied with reformed editions of The Curse of Kehama” and 6 Samor," no less than nine passages from which are quoted in this single address, Milman furnishing one which is pronounced “unrivald by aught to be found in the pages of Homer and Virgil.” In the meantime the mind of the pupil will be enlarged and expanded, and his knowledge of the history of his species consummated by an intense and continual study of American constitutions, literature, and laws. He will doubtless be satisfied that the world, so far as he is concerned, and for all the purposes of good government, was created in 1776 by Thomas Jefferson; that we are the wisest as we always have been the bravest of men, and that a true and modest account of ourselves, and a candid exposition of the characteristics of foreign countries, may be found in the annals of the fourth of July, ab
anno reipublicæ primo. From these sources, he will gather that our main business with other nations, is, if possible, to convert them to republicanism, believing as he is bound to do, that the youngest nation on earth is the one which, by the ordinary laws of nature, has the best title to instruct the rest. Having limited his knowledge of the modern world to our own hemisphere, he will strike out profane antiquity at a blow—as the former perishes by necessity, the latter will fall by design. As the one is foreign, and may corrupt his political simplicity, so the other is foreign and pagan, and must undermine his religious belief.
“The truth is, education with us is neither Christian nor American. We educate the young almost entirely as tho' we did not know whether they were to be Chris. tians , Pagans
, or Mahometans; Americans, Germans, or Italians. We instruct them without any peculiar paramount view to Christian or American character and duty. The system is radicaly unfriendly to religion and patriotism, in any just and comprehensiv view of both, and must be extensivly and fundamentaly reformd, before this country will be inhabited by a truly Christian, American people." p. 55. note (N.) In short, the American scholar, upon this new system, will learn in a school eminently narrow, bigoted, and selfish. Almost deprived of the benefits of comparison, he will have but a one-sided acquaintance with even his own institutions, since truth, like fire, is elicited by collision. He will put out his own eyes, lest they should behold something dangerous.
If it be objected that we have drawn a caricature, we have only to reply that we have thereby preserved a likeness more startling, and not less faithful, than if we had copied Mr. Grimké's original. We can conceive no other effect from an American education, as contra-distinguished from a classical one, than gradually to deprive the student of the light of ancient and foreign learning, without giving him in its place any thing substantial or satisfactory. The very objection which is urged against the study of the learned languages, that they depict a state of society with which
VOL. XVII. NO. 33.
we have nothing in common, would, were it true, furnish an argument in favour of their acquisition. That man would acquire a singular knowledge of the moon, who viewed her only at the full; and he would be curiously fitted to investigate human nature, who always examined mankind under the influence of one set of institutions. For our own part, we rejoice that there is not any such thing, nor can be, as American education ; that to a certain extent the mind of all civilized nations must follow the same path, contemplate the same cycles, and love and fear and hope in sympathy with the same actors; that the utmost rage of literary radicalism, and (we speak of its application,) pseudo Christianity, cannot deprive us, even us, “ toto penitus divisos orbe," of the memorials and the love of the great past, hallowed not merely by its antiquity, but by its inherent grandeur and beauty, and by the reverence of so many intervening ages, and that the associations and recollections of Greece and Rome are so interwoven with the language, the usages, and the literature of the world, that the power of man cannot put them asunder.
When Mr. Grimké asserts the equality of intellect between the ancients and moderns, we feel no disposition to dispute the proposition. When he goes farther, and maintains that in the materials of poetry and eloquence the latter have the advantage, we concede the point for the sake of the argument; but when, not content with this, he taxes our politeness to place Homer below Scott, and Demosthenes below Webster, we have too great a regard for the opinion which the distinguished moderns alluded to have conceived of themselves, to indulge him; most of all, when at last he degrades the heroes and sages of ancient history to a level with aboriginal warriors of America, we are tempted charitably to find an excuse for the paradox in mental distemperature, and to take our leave at once of an argument built upon so strange a hallucination. Indeed, it appears to us, that from the outset Mr. Grimké has mistaken the nature and end as well as the effect of classical education, and that in this view we might easily show, that such of his premises as are admissible at all must fail, for want of an object against which they may be directed.
Ancient literature is the extant and living evidence of ancient mind. Its mythological machinery and peculiar political impress, of which Mr. Grimké expresses such apprehension, are viewed by every student as memorials of a state of society that has long since disappeared. Even on the classic soil itself, Rienzi is almost the only enthusiast who has dreamed of bringing back the republic, while a thousand theocrats have been made by the perusal of the Old Testament. Yet who would think of banishing the Bible from familiar use, because some madmen have misinterpreted it? Perhaps there was more in the
peculiar institutions of the Jews, which is opposed to the spirit of Christianity and republicanism, than in those of Greece or Rome in any phase of their earlier history. No one, however, fears the impression. The antidote to false views of the relations of man to his creator and his country, is to be sought in the knowledge which is intuitively acquired by every American of the religion and government under which he lives. The argument that knowledge of any sort is dangerous, is more characteristic of a dark age and despotic government than of the light and freedom of modern times. The national eagle gazes at the sunbeam, the owl only blinks at the daylight. Shut out classical instruction, and by a parity of reasoning you must put an end to the study of foreign manners and political history-in short, to every liberal pursuit save physics and metaphysics. The aristocratical government of England is at this instant as foreign to our polity as that of the triumvirate, yet no one hints (so preposterous would be the notion) at relinquishing the study of English history. It is coeval almost with our first rudiments of learning.
But the argument admits that the ancient authors may be studied in after life as an elegant attainment. We take leave to say, that if what our author apprehends be well founded, they are not worth the learning-if unfounded, they should be learned early or not at all. Besides, who in later life in this busy country has leisure to go back to elements, and struggle into a knowledge of particles, when the mind is busied in devising means to live, or interested in pursuits of urgent and absorbing importance. Most of us have had occasion to attempt the acquisition of living languages, and have discovered how difficult it is to impress upon the memory, preoccupied, almost indurated as it is, a few simple inflexions, which a child can lay up for life in half an hour. To attain a language is not a matter of volition. The power of acquirement diminishes with the diminution of life. The admission, that classical studies can be important afterwards, involves the necessity of acquiring their rudiments when young. Mr. Grimké proposes to furnish students with the speeches of Henry and Ames, and the opinions of Marshall, instead of the orations of Cicero. This might be a profitable exchange, if the latter were given to boys as an exercise in jurisprudence or politics; but every one (as we used to suppose) knows that it is at first a lesson in language that the teacher of Cicero would impart, not in Roman law. This lesson in language is given in childhood and youth, because then it is most readily acquired and most easily retained, and because the mind is not ripe for complex political lectures, and refined, legal, and constitutional arguments. It is the preparation and discipline of the mind for future studies, and a necessary introduction to liberal know
ledge, since language is the costume in which all knowledge is enveloped, and by which it is to be recognised. Let us hear Mr. Gardiner on this subject.
“Probably it will be conceded on all hands, that the chief object of primary education is not knowledge, but discipline, and facilities for acquiring knowledge. The absolute knowledge of things, which the boy learns out of his school books, is next to nothing, scarcely more in a course of years than the man of full-grown and well-trained faculties might acquire in as many months.. The object then is rather to create habits of application; to call into action that greatest principle of all human greatness, attention; to give a command of the faculties, to such degree of investigation as their tender expansion will permit; to enlarge and strengthen them by judicious exercise;—and for this purpose language is selected, as being by God's own appointment more easily learnt in youth than in maturer years; and a foreign language, because it is of necessity learnt in a more exact manner, and with greater intension of the mind, than our vernacular tongue. But surely accuracy in this learning is the whole evidence that the end for which it was learnt at all has been attained. The attention has been roused,—the faculties have been stretched; and therefore the knowledge of those things towards which the mind was directed is accurate. The more accurate, the stronger is this evidence.
" And since the object is not so much knowledge, as the means of knowledge, the command of powers, and use of tools, the Greek and Latin languages are selected by common consent, not only for the immortal treasures they contain, but because they incorporate themselves into all the living languages of civilized man; so that he, who has once mastered these ancient vehicles of thought, descends, as from an eminence, how familiarly, compared with the mere vernacular scholar, into all or any of the dialects of modern Europe, and, which is of more importance, better understands his own. For we cannot read a single page, nor utter a solitary sentence, in our native language, (the very words I am compelled to use, the single page, the solitary sentence, the native language, speak to the fact,) without recurring to Rome or Greece, or both, for most of the nice shades of thought which mingle and coalesce in the full meaning of every phrase that is uttered. Thence is it, that * even as a hawk fleeth not high with one wing, even so a man reacheth not unto excellency with one tongue.' The ancient instructor of royalty whom I quote would have had for its fellow a learned tongue at least, doubtless little better than Heathen Greek. But are not the ends for which these languages are selected, in preference to all others, answered precisely in proportion to the accuracy with which they are learnt? And shall we, above all things, stop short of that point of accuracy which alone gives the power to perceive with clearness the beauties of the thought and the delicacies of expression they contain? Shall we learn a little of language, and stop short of its literature ?
“So far from doubting the advantage of the critical accuracy of Europe, and especially of England, in this branch of education, the more rational doubt is that of some of the sweeping reformers, whether there be any benefit, or at least a benefit proportioned to the time and labor consumed, in learning these languages so superficially and inaccurately as we for the most part do. For of what avail is it to talk of the simple majesty of Homer, or the deep pathos of Sophocles, to him who scarce reads with any tolerable fluency the mere character in which their works are written, and knows no more of the genius of their language than he does of the genius of the Cherokee? Yet of how many, who have received the advantages of what is termed a liberal education, is this literally true?
"Accurate knowledge of the ancient languages useless! A waste of life to spend its best years on syllables and sounds-mere names of things and those dead and forgotten! Rather let us say, that it is a waste of life to stop short of accuracy;that language is thought, and the memory of words the memory of things. For God and nature have so mysteriously mingled body and soul, thought and expression, that man cannot set them asunder. They are one and indivisible. The principle of intellectual life hangs upon their union. We cannot think but in words. We cannot reason but in propositions. Or if the excited intellect should sometimes leap to an intuítive result and flash upon truth, it is yet a useless result, an unutterable, incommunicable, voiceless truth,-a waste flower in the wilderness,--a gem
buried in the ocean,-until it has been embodied in language, and made visible by signs, or audible by sounds. And however it may be rarely true that the man of accurate thought is incapable, because he has not studied language, of accurate expression, it is universally true that he who has greatly studied accuracy of expression, words, their arrangement, force, and harmony, in any language, dead or living, has also greatly attained towards accuracy of thought, as well as propriety and energy of speech. For divers philosophers hold,' says Shakspeare, clothing philosophy in the mantle of the Muse, “that the lip is parcel of the mind.'
"A waste of life! Why, what is man, his pursuits, his works, his monuments, that these niceties of language, the weight of words, and the value of sounds should be deemed unworthy of his immortal nature? He is fled like a shadow. The wealth which he toiled for is squandered by other hands. The lands which he cultivated are waste. That hearth-stone on which he garnered up the affections of his own home is sunk into the elements. The very marble, which his children raised over his ashes for a memorial unto eternity, is scattered to the winds of heaven. His sons, his kindred, his name, his race, his nation, all their mighty works, their magnificent monuments, their imperial cities, are vanished like a mist, and swept out of the memory of man. Yet the very word that he spoke,—that little winged word,—a breath, a vapor, gone as it was uttered, clothing a new and noble thought, embodying one spark of heaven's own fire, formed into letters, traced in hairy lines upon a leaf, enrolled, copied, printed, multiplied and multiplied, spreads over the whole earth; is heard among all tongues and nations; descends through all posterity;. and lives for ever, immortal as his own soul. Homer and ye sacred prophets, attest this truth!" pp. 23–26.
We have quoted this eloquent passage at length, because it expresses our own opinions with singular force and felicity, and because we are not unwilling to contrast the glowing, yet highly chastened diction of Mr. Gardiner, with the puerilities and common-places of such fourth form eloquence as the following ; believing, as we do, that the style of each orator is a natural and necessary result of the system he advocates, and the studies he recommends.
" Man, the noblest work of God in this lower world, walks abroad thro' its labyrinths of grandeur and beauty, amid countless manifestations of creativ power and providential wisdom. He acknowleges in all that he beholds, the might which calld. them into being; the skill which perfected the harmony of the parts; and the benevolence which consecrated all to the glory of God, and the welfare of his fellow creatures. He stands entranced on the peak of Etna, or Teneriffe, or Montserrat, and looks down upon the far distant ocean, silent to his car and tranquil to his eye, amidst the rushing of tempestuous winds, and the fierce conflict of stormy billows. He sits enraptur'd on the mountain summit, and beholds, as far as the eye can reach, a forest robe, flowing in all the varietys of graceful undulation, over declivity after declivity, as tho' the fabulous river of the sky's were pouring its azure waves o'er all the landskip. He hangs over the precipice and gazes with awful delight on the savage glen, rent open as it were by the earthquake, and black with lightningshatterd rocks ; its only music the echoing thunder, the scream of the lonely eagle, and the tumultuous waters of the mountain torrent. He reclines in pensiv mood on the hill top, and sees around and beneath him, all the luxuriant beautys of field and meadow, of olivyard and vinyard, of wandering stream and grove-encircled lake. He descends to the plain, and amidst waving harvests, verdant avenues and luxuriant orchards, sees between garden and grassplat, the farm house embosomd in copswood or “ tall ancestral trees.” He walks thro' the vally, fenced in by barrier diffs, to contemplate with mild enthusiasm its scenes of pastoral beauty, the cottage and its blossomd arbor, the shepherd and his flock, the clump of oaks, or the solitary willow. He enters the cavern, buryd far beneath the surface, and is struck with amazement at the grandeur and magnificence of a subterranean palace, hewn out as it were by the power of the Genii
, and decorated by the taste of Armida, or of the Queen of the Fairys." Grimké, pp. 5, 6.