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you to settle great and difficult questions? And plenty of them, believe me, you will have. Think of these mighty rivers, running up, and down, and across the country in every direction, and the controversies which will present themselves about their navigation; is there to be any way of settling them? Again, hostile tariffs, designed to undermine the revenue and commerce of neighboring States, will infallibly be enacted. And then this very question which now agitates the Union. What, in the name of Heaven, are you to do with all these controversies, when you have lost this great and august tribunal ?
Gentlemen, when this time comes, if Pennsylvania, for instance, should look round her and find that Virginia has pushed up a narrow strip forming a couple of counties, behind her western boundary, to keep her entirely aloof from the left bank of the Ohio, and if she shall take it into her head to redress this irregularity, as she would be apt to think it, what will be the result? Do you think, Chancellor, (addressing Chancellor Walworth,) the remembrance of the case of Olmstead will induce her to remain quiet? If New York should take it into her head to revive her claim to a monopoly of the steam navigation of her waters, and give effect to her grant to the representatives of Fulton, who presented to New York and the world the great mechanical miracle of modern times, would the case of Gibbons and Ogden prevent her from executing this purpose ? No. When we come to that, the day of chancellors and judges is passed. We shall shut up the volumes of Peters, and Wheaton, and Dallas, and Cranch; we shall repudiate the authority of the Kents, and the Storys, the Walworths, and the Marshalls; we shall go to the arsenals of the old despotisms for their accursed logic, the ultima ratio regum, and settle all disputes at the point of the pike and the mouth of the cannon.
There are some other topics on which I intended to speak, but I must stop. I thank you for your encouragement, gentlemen, but my strength, not great when I started, is quite exhausted. I can only allude to the disastrous effects of a separation of the States on all the relations of the country at home and abroad; to the complete demoralization of society, by substituting insecurity and conflict for peace and quiet; to the blight which will fall upon the new States and Territories, springing up like an exhalation from the soil throughout the continent. And then, sir, to think of our position before the world, how deplorably will that be changed! The United States, a republic now so great and powerful, and so respected, raised to an importance which will enable us before long to hold the balance of public opinion between the contending empires of the world, what will it be when broken up and frittered away to twenty or thirty petty sovereignties, and, in the lapse of time, perhaps to two or three hundred miserable principalities?
But, sir, I must take my seat, I thank you, Mr. Mayor and gentlemen, for the kind attention with which you have listened to me, and I beg to join my vows with yours, that the Constitution of the United States, with all its privileges and blessings, may be perpetuated to the latest posterity.
CONDITIONS OF A GOOD SCHOOL.*
I RISE, Mr. Chairman, at your request, to express the great satisfaction with which I have witnessed the exercises of the day. I came here as a parent, citizen, and friend of the school, with no expectation or intention of taking any part in the proceedings, beyond that of a gratified spectator; but it would be churlish to refuse to comply with your request, that I would address a few words to the company. I can say with great sincerity, that I have attended the exercises of this morning, the specimens exhibited to us of reading and elocution, with much pleasure, as I did the more strenuous exercises of last Monday's examination at the school-house. Taken together, sir, they show the Cambridge High School to be in a sound and improving condition; for, if I mistake not, I see the marks of progress in the school, as compared with its condition last year. This is the more satisfactory, because I believe you consider, sir, (addressing Mr. Smith,) that you have labored under some disadvantage in the course of the past year, in consequence of the frequent changes in the body of teachers. Still, however, the superintendence has remained unchanged, the general system of government and instruction has gone on, and I believe those gentlemen, who witnessed the examination and exhibition on former occasions, will agree with me that there is not only no falling off, but decided progress the present year. This is as it should be; in fact, any other state of things would be
* Remarks made at the close of the exhibition of the Cambridge Fligh School, August 2d, 1851,
unsatisfactory. Every thing else around us is in progress. The standard of excellence in education, as in all other things, is constantly advancing; and the school that does not go forward, that even stands still, will soon find itself in the back
In fact, Mr. Chairman, there are few things in which the rapid progress of the country is so apparent as in its institutions for education. The learned Secretary of the Board of Education (Rev. Dr. Sears) has just alluded to the defects of the schools in some remote parts of the Commonwealth, unfavorably situated in this respect. I dare say his representations are correct; but the younger part of this audience would not believe me, no one scarcely whose own recollection did not confirm it would believe me, if I were to describe the state of what were called good schools when I was myself a school-boy, more years ago, Mr. Chairman, than I believe I shall tell you. I allude to the condition of the best public schools of that day. The instruction in what are commonly called the English branches was confined to reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, and geography, all taught according to very defective methods, and with the help of poor manuals. The books for reading and speaking were either foreign, some of them consisting of matter selected without judgment and taste, and ill-adapted to this country, or, if of domestic manufacture, not much better adapted, on that account, to form the taste of the young American speaker or reader. In fact, our native literature, at that time, afforded but scanty materials for a useful and interesting selection. In grammar, we had a very imperfect abridgment of a work of but moderate merit in its original form. For arithmetic we depended on the work of Pike. I desire to speak respectfully of it, as I learned from it what little I learned at all of the noble science of numbers; and, in fact, in the elementary rules, there cannot be room for much diversity of method. But good or bad, there were few schools that carried the pupil far beyond the Rule of Three. Single and double fellowship was rather a rare attainment, and alligation, medial and alternate, a thing to talk of. As for logarithms, geometry and its various appli
cations, and algebra, they belonged to a terra incognita, of which no school-boy ever heard, who had not an older brother at college. As to the blackboard, I never heard of such a thing at school. Geography was taught, at that day, from very imperfect compends; it was confined to a rehearsal of a few meagre facts in physical geography, and a few barren statistical details, which ceased to be true while you were repeating them. The attention of the learner was never called to the philosophy of this beautiful branch of knowledge; he was taught nothing of the relations in which man stands to the wonderful globe on which he is placed. No glimpse was given him of the action and reaction upon each other, in this department of knowledge, of nature and man. A globe, I believe, I never saw at a public school near enough to touch it. I am not sure that I was ever in the same room with one, at that period of my life, though I will not speak with entire confidence on that point. A large and accurate map was never exhibited in school fifty years ago. I do not speak of such beautiful maps as those now constructing under the superintendence of Professor Guyot, with their admirable ethnographical indications, isothermal lines, vegetable boundaries, oceanic currents, and careful delineations of those breaks in the mountain chains, which have determined the paths of civilization. I do not speak of these refinements with which the eyes of the young student of geography are daily feasted at the present day, but of large, distinct, well-executed maps of any kind; I never saw one at school. The name of natural or moral philosophy was never heard in our English schools at that day; it was much if some small smattering of those branches was taught in the upper classes at our best academies. The same may be said of all the branches of natural science, such as chemistry, zoology, and botany, which have been so well unfolded to you at the High School during the last two years, partly in the stated routine of instruction, and partly in the admirable lectures kindly given to you by Professor Agassiz. There was no philosophical or scientific apparatus furnished at the schools in my day, with the exception, as I remember, in a single instance, of a rickety