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Title: A Practical Enquiry into the Philosophy of Education
Author: Gall, James, 1784?-1874
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Practical Enquiry into the Philosophy of Education" ***









 "_The Works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have
 pleasure therein._"--PSAL. cxi. 2.



Printed by J. Gall & Son. 22, Niddry Street.


The Author of the following pages is a plain man, who has endeavoured to
write a plain book, for the purpose of being popularly useful. The
philosophical form which his enquiries have assumed, is the result
rather of accidental circumstances than of free choice. The strong
desire which he felt in his earlier years to benefit the Young, induced
him to push forward in the paths which appeared to him most likely to
lead to his object; and it was not till he had advanced far into the
fields of philosophy, that he first began dimly to perceive the
importance of the ground which he had unwittingly occupied. The truth
is, that he had laboured many years in the Sabbath Schools with which he
had connected himself, before he was aware that, in his combat with
ignorance, he was wielding weapons that were comparatively new; and it
was still longer, before he very clearly understood the principles of
those Exercises which he found so successful. One investigation led to
another; light shone out as he proceeded; and he now submits, with full
confidence in the truth of his general principles and deductions, the
results of more than thirty years' experience and reflection in the
great cause of Education.

He has only further to observe, that the term "NATURE," which
occurs so frequently, has been adopted as a convenient and popular mode
of expression. None of his readers needs to be informed, that this is
but another manner of designating "THE GOD OF NATURE," whose
laws, as established in the young mind, he has been endeavouring humbly,
and perseveringly to imitate.

 _Myrtle Bank, Trinity, Edinburgh, 8th May, 1840._




 CHAP. I.                                                            Page

 On the Importance of establishing the Science of Education on a
 solid Foundation,                                                     13


 On the Cultivation of Education as a Science,                         16


 On the Improvement of Teaching as an Art,                             25


 On the Establishment of Sound Principles in Education,                32




 A Comprehensive View of the several Educational Processes
 carried on by Nature,                                                 37


 On the Method employed by Nature for cultivating the Powers of
 the Mind,                                                             45


 On the Means by which Nature enables her Pupils to acquire
 Knowledge,                                                            52


 On Nature's Method of communicating Knowledge to the Young by
 the Principle of Reiteration,                                         56


 On the Acquisition of Knowledge by the Principle of
 Individuation,                                                        65


 On the Acquisition of Knowledge by the Principle of Association,
 or Grouping,                                                          72


 On the Acquisition of Knowledge by the Principle of Analysis,
 or Classification,                                                    83


 On Nature's Methods of Teaching her Pupils to make use of their
 Knowledge,                                                            95


 On Nature's Methods of Applying Knowledge by the Principle of
 the Animal, or Common Sense,                                         101


 On Nature's Method of applying Knowledge, by means of the
 Moral Sense, or Conscience,                                          111


 On Nature's Method of Training her Pupils to Communicate
 their Knowledge,                                                     129


 Recapitulation of the Philosophical Principles developed
 in the previous Chapters,                                            141




 On the Exercises by which Nature may be imitated in cultivating
 the Powers of the Mind,                                              148


 On the Methods by which Nature may be imitated in the Pupil's
 Acquisition of Knowledge; with a Review of the Analogy between
 the Mental and Physical Appetites of the Young,                      170


 How Nature may be imitated in Communicating Knowledge to the
 Pupil, by the Reiteration of Ideas,                                  177


 On the Means by which Nature may be imitated in Exercising the
 Principle of Individuation,                                          192


 On the Means by which Nature may be imitated in Applying the
 Principle of Grouping, or Association,                               204


 On the Methods by which Nature may be imitated in Communicating
 Knowledge by Classification, or Analysis,                            218


 On the Imitation of Nature in Teaching the Practical Use of
 Knowledge,                                                           233


 On the Imitation of Nature in Teaching the Use of Knowledge
 by Means of the Animal, or Common Sense,                             245


 On the Imitation of Nature in Teaching the Practical Use of
 Knowledge by means of the Moral Sense, or Conscience,                257


 On the Application of our Knowledge to the Common Affairs of
 Life,                                                                274


 On the Imitation of Nature, in training her Pupils fluently to
 communicate their Knowledge,                                         288




 On the General Principles which ought to regulate our choice
 of Truths and Subjects to be taught to the Young,                    306


 On the particular Branches of Education required for Elementary
 Schools,                                                             317


 On the Easiest Methods of Introducing these Principles, for
 the first time, into Schools already established,                    326

 Notes,                                                               331





 _On the Importance of establishing the Science of
 Education on a solid Foundation._

Education is at present obviously in a transition state. The public mind
has of late become alive to the importance of the subject; and all
persons are beginning to feel awake to the truth, that something is yet
wanting to insure efficiency and permanence to the labours of the
teacher. The public will not be satisfied till some decided change has
taken place; and many are endeavouring to grope their way to something
better. It is with an earnest desire to help forward this great
movement, that the writer of the following pages has been induced to
publish the result of much study, and upwards of thirty years'
experience, in the hope that it may afford at least some assistance in
directing the enquiries of those who are prosecuting the same object.

On entering upon this investigation, it will be of use to keep in mind,
that all the sciences have, at particular periods of their history, been
in the same uncertain and unsettled position, as that which Education at
present occupies; and that each of them has in its turn, had to pass
through an ordeal, similar to that which education is about to undergo.
They have triumphantly succeeded; and their subsequent rapid
advancement is the best proof that they are now placed on a solid and
permanent foundation. It is of importance, therefore, in attempting to
forward the science of education, that we should profit by the
experience of those who have gone before us. They succeeded by a strict
observation of facts, and a stern rejection of every species of mere
supposition and opinion;--by an uncompromising hostility to prejudice
and selfishness, and a fearless admission of truth wherever it was
discovered. Such must be the conduct of the Educationist, if he expects
to succeed in an equal degree. The history of astronomy as taught by
astrologers, and of chemistry in the hands of the alchymist, should
teach both the lovers and the fearers of change an important lesson.
These pretended sciences being mere conjectures, were of use to nobody;
and yet the boldness with which they were promulgated, and the
confidence with which they were received, had the effect of suppressing
enquiry, and shutting out the truth for several generations. Similar may
be the effects of errors in education, and similar the danger of too
easily admitting them. The adoption of plausible theories, or of
erroneous principles, must lead into innumerable difficulties; and
should they be hastily patronized, and authoritatively promulgated, the
improvement of this first and most important of the sciences may be
retarded for a century to come.

The other sciences, during the last half century, have advanced with
amazing rapidity. This has been the result of a strict adherence to well
established facts, and their legitimate inferences.--A docile subjection
of the mind to the results of experiment, and a candid confession and
abandonment of fallacies, have characterized every benefactor of the
sciences;--and the science of education must be advanced by an adherence
to the same principles. The Educationist must be willing to abandon
error, as well as to receive truth; and must resolutely shake off all
conjecture and opinions not founded on fair and appropriate experiment.
This course may appear tedious;--but it is the shortest and the best. By
this mode of induction, all the facts which he is able to glean will
assuredly be found to harmonize with nature, with reason, and with
Scripture; and with these for his supporters, the Reformer in education
has nothing to fear. His progress may be slow, but it will be sure; for
every principle which he thus discovers, will enable him, not only to
outrun his neighbours, but to confer a permanent and valuable boon upon

That any rational and accountable being should ever have been found to
oppose the progress of truth, is truly humiliating; yet every page of
history, which records the developement of new principles, exhibits also
the outbreakings of prejudice and selfishness. The deductions of
Galileo, of Newton, of Harvey, and innumerable others, have been opposed
and denounced, each in its turn; while their promoters have been
vilified as empyrics or innovators. Nor has this been done by those only
whose self love or worldly interests prompted them to exclude the truth,
but by good and honourable men, whose prejudices were strong, and whose
zeal was not guided by discretion. Such persons have frequently been
found to shut their eyes against the plainest truths, to wrestle with
their own convictions, and positively refuse even to listen to evidence.
The same thing may happen with regard to education;--and this is no
pleasing prospect to the lover of peace, who sets himself forward as a
reformer in this noble work.--Change is inevitable. Teaching is an art;
and it must, like all the other arts, depend for its improvement upon
the investigations of science. Now, every one knows, that although the
cultivation of chemistry, and other branches of natural science, has, of
late years, given an extraordinary stimulus to the arts, yet the science
of education, from which the art of teaching can alone derive its
power, is one, beyond the threshold of which modern philosophy has
scarcely entered. Changes, therefore, both in the theory and practice of
teaching, may be anticipated;--and that these changes will be
inconvenient and annoying to many, there can be no doubt. That
individuals, in these circumstances, should be inclined to deprecate and
oppose these innovations and improvements, is nothing more than might be
expected; but that the improvements themselves should on that account be
either postponed or abandoned, would be highly injurious. An enlightened
system of education is peculiarly the property of the public, on which
both personal, family, and national happiness in a great measure
depends. These interests therefore must not be sacrificed to the wishes
or the convenience of private individuals. The prosperity and happiness
of mankind are at stake; and the welfare of succeeding generations will,
in no small degree, be influenced by the establishment of sound
principles in education at the present time. Nothing, therefore, should
be allowed to mystify or cripple that science, upon which the spread and
the permanence of all useful knowledge mainly rest.


_On the Cultivation of Education as a Science._

From numerous considerations, it must be evident, that education claims
the first rank among the sciences; and, in that case, the art of
Teaching ought to take precedence among the arts;--not perhaps in
respect of its difficulties, but most certainly in respect of its

The success of the teacher in his labours, will depend almost entirely
on the extent and the accuracy of the investigations of the philosopher.
The science must guide the art. Experience shews, that where an artist
in ordinary life is not directed by science,--by acknowledged
principles,--he can never make any steady improvement. In like manner,
when the principles of education are unknown, no advancement in the art
can be expected from the teacher. Every attempt at change in such
circumstances must be unsatisfactory; and even when improvements are by
chance accomplished, they are but partial, and must be stationary.--When,
on the contrary, the teacher is directed by ascertained principles, he
never can deviate far from the path of success; and even if he should,
he has the means in his own power of ascertaining the cause of his
failure, and of retracing his steps. He can, therefore, at his pleasure,
add to or abridge, vary or transpose his exercises with his pupils,
provided only that the great principles of the science be kept steadily
in view, and be neither outraged, nor greatly infringed. No teacher,
therefore, should profess the art, without making himself familiar with
the philosophical principles upon which it is founded. In the mechanical
arts, this practice is now generally followed, and with the happiest
effects. The men of the present generation have profited by the painful
experience of thousands in former times; who, trusting to mere
conjectures, tried, failed, and ruined themselves. The mechanics of our
day, instead of indulging in blind theories of their own, and hazarding
their money and their time upon speculation and chance, are willing to
borrow light for their guidance from those who have provided it. They
slowly, but surely, follow in the path opened up to them by the
discoveries of science,--and they are never disappointed.

The unexampled success of the mechanical arts, would, upon the above
principles, naturally lead us to conclude, that the sciences, from which
they have derived all that they possess, must have been cultivated with
corresponding energy. And such is the fact. Since the adoption of the
inductive method of philosophizing, nearly all the sciences have been
advancing rapidly and steadily; and the cause of this is to be found in
adhering to the rules of induction. No science has been allowed to rest
its claims upon mere theory, or authority of any kind, but upon evidence
derived from facts. Mere opinions and suppositions have been rigidly
excluded; and that alone which was acquired by accurate investigation,
has been acknowledged in science as having the stamp of truth. The
inductive philosophy takes nothing for granted. Every conclusion must be
legitimately drawn from ascertained facts, or from principles
established by experiment; and the consequence has been, not only that
what has been attained is permanent, and will benefit all future
generations, but the amount of that attainment, in the short time that
has already elapsed, is actually greater than all that had been
previously gained during centuries. In this general improvement,
however, the science of Education has till lately formed an exception.
The principles of true philosophy do not appear to have been brought to
bear upon it, as they have upon the other sciences; and the consequences
of this neglect have been lamentable. In every branch of natural
philosophy, there are great leading principles already established. But
where were there any such principles established by the philosopher for
the guidance of the teacher? By what, except their own experience, and
conjectures, were teachers directed in the training of the
young?--Thirty or forty years ago, what was called "education" in our
ordinary week-day schools, was little more than a mechanical round of
barren exercises. The excitement of religious persecution, which had
been the means of disciplining the intellectual and moral powers of
Scotsmen for several previous generations, had by that time gradually
subsided, and had left education to do its own work, by the use of its
own resources. But these were perfectly inadequate to the task. The
exercises almost universally employed in the education of the young,
had neither been derived from science, nor from experience of their own
inherent power; and they would, from the beginning, have been found
perfectly inefficient, had they not been aided, as before noticed, by
the stimulant of religious persecution.--The state of education, at the
time we speak of, is still fresh on the memory of living witnesses who
were its victims; and some of the absurdities which were then universal,
are not even yet altogether extinct.

Soon after the period above stated, an important change began to take
place in the art of teaching,--but still unaided and undirected by
science. Some of the more thinking and judicious of its professors,
roused by the flagrant failures of their own practice, made several
noble and exemplary efforts to place it on a better footing. Had these
efforts been guided by scientific research, much more good would have
been done than has been accomplished, and an immense amount of
misdirected labour would have been saved. But although many of the
attempts at a change failed, yet some of them succeeded, and have
gradually produced ameliorations and improvements in the art of
teaching. Still it must be observed, that philosophy has had little or
no share in the merit. Her labours in this important field have yet to
be begun. Valuable exercises have no doubt been introduced; but the
principles upon which the success of these exercises depends, remain in
a great measure concealed from the public generally:--And the reason of
this is, that the public have been indebted for them to the _art_ of the
teacher, and not to the _science_ of the philosopher.

That this is not the position in which matters of so much public
importance should continue, we think no one will deny. Education must be
cultivated as a science, before teaching can ever flourish as an art.
The philosopher must first ascertain and light up the way, before the
teacher can, with security, walk in it. Experiment must be employed to
ascertain facts, investigate causes, and trace these causes to their
effects. By fair and legitimate deductions drawn from the facts thus
ascertained, he will be enabled to establish certain principles, which,
when acted upon by the teacher, will invariably succeed. But without
this, the history of all the other arts and sciences teaches us, that
success is not to be expected;--for although chance may sometimes lead
the teacher to a happy device, there can be no steady progress. Even
those beneficial exercises upon which he may have stumbled, become of
little practical value; because, when the principles upon which they are
based are unknown, they can neither be followed up with certainty, nor
be varied without danger.

There will no doubt be a difficulty in the investigation of a science
which is in itself so complicated, and which has hitherto been so little
understood; but this is only an additional reason why it should be begun
in a proper manner, and pursued with energy. The mode of procedure is
the chief object of difficulty; but the experience and success of
investigators in the other sciences, will be of great advantage in
directing us in this. In the sciences of anatomy and physiology, for
example, the investigations of the philosopher are designed to direct
the several operations of the physician, the surgeon, and the dentist;
in the same way as the investigations of the Educationist are intended
to direct the operations of the Teacher. Now the mode of procedure in
those sciences for such purposes is well known, and forms an excellent
example for us in the present case. The duty of the anatomist, or
physiologist, is simply to examine the operations of Nature in the
animal economy, and the plans which she adopts for accomplishing her
objects during health, and for throwing off impediments during disease.
In conducting his investigations, the enquirer begins by taking a
general view of the whole subject, and then separating and defining its
leading parts. Pulsation, respiration, digestion, and the various
secretions and excretions of the body, are defined, and their general
connection with each other correctly ascertained. These form his
starting points; and then, taking each in its turn, he sets himself to
discover the principles, or laws, which regulate its working in a
healthy state;--what it is that promotes the circulation or stagnation
of the blood, the bracing or relaxing of the nerves, the several
processes in digestion, and the various functions of the skin and
viscera. These are all first ascertained by observation and experience,
and then, if necessary, established by experiment.

These principles, having thus been established by science, are available
for direction in the arts. The physician acts under their guidance; and
his object is simply to regulate his treatment and advice in accordance
with them. In other words, _he endeavours to imitate Nature_, to remove
the obstructions which he finds interfering with her operations, or to
lend that aid which a knowledge of these principles points out as
necessary. The surgeon and the dentist follow the same course, but more
directly. In healing a wound, for example, the surgeon has to ascertain
from science how Nature in similar cases proceeds when left to herself;
and all his cuttings, and lancings, and dressings, are nothing more than
_attempts to imitate her_ in her healing operations. So well is this now
understood, that every operation which does not at least recognise the
principle is denounced--and justly denounced--as quackery; and the
reason is, that uniform experience has convinced professional men, that
they can only expect success when they follow with docility in the path
which Nature has pointed out to them.

Precisely similar should be the plan of operation pursued by the
Educationist. He should, in the first place, take a comprehensive view
of the whole subject, and endeavour to map out to himself its great
natural divisions;--in other words, he should endeavour to ascertain
what are the things which Nature teaches, that he may, by means of this
great outline, form a general programme for the direction of the
teacher. His next object ought to be, to ascertain the mode, and the
means, adopted by Nature in forwarding these several departments of her
educational process; the powers of mind engrossed in each; the order in
which they are brought into exercise; and the combinations which she
employs in perfecting them. In ascertaining these principles which
regulate the operations of Nature in her educational processes, the same
adherence to the rules prescribed by the inductive philosophy, which has
crowned the other sciences with success, must be rigidly observed. There
must be the same disregard of mere antiquity; there must be the same
scrupulous sifting of evidence, and strict adherence to facts; there
must be a discarding of all hypotheses, and a simple dependence upon
ascertained truths alone. Adherence to these rules is as necessary in
cultivating the science of education, as it has been in the other
sciences; and the neglect of any one of them, may introduce an element
of error, which may injure the labours of a whole lifetime.

We have some reason to fear, that although all this will be readily
admitted in theory, it will be found somewhat difficult to adopt it in
practice. The reason of this will be obvious when we reflect on the deep
interest which the best and most philanthropic individuals in society
take in this science. The other sciences are in some measure removed
from the busy pursuits of life; they are the concern of certain persons,
who are allowed to investigate and to experiment, to judge and to decide
as they please, without the public in general caring much about the
matter.--But education is a science of a different kind. Its value is
acknowledged by every one, and its interests are dear to every
benevolent heart. The individual who undertakes to examine, and more
especially to promulgate, any new principle upon which education rests,
will have a harder task to perform, and a severer battle to fight, than
the philosopher who attempts to overturn a false conclusion in
chemistry, or an erroneous principle in mechanics. Among the learned
community, not more than one in a thousand perhaps is personally
interested either in mechanics or in chemistry; and few others will
enter the lists to oppose that which appears legitimate and fair. The
enemies and opponents of the chemical reformer in that case may be
zealous and even fierce; but they are few, and he enjoys the sympathy
and the countenance of the great majority of those whose countenance is
worthy of his regard. But when we calculate the number of those who take
an interest in the subject of education, and those who do not, the above
numbers will be reversed. Nine hundred and ninety-nine among the
educated public will be found who take a real interest in the progress
of education, for one who cares nothing about it.

This is a fearful odds where there is a likelihood of opposition;--and
opposition may be expected. For there will be influences in many of the
true friends of education, derived from old prejudices within, combined
with the pressure of conflicting sentiments in their friends from
without, which will render the task of establishing new and sound
principles in this first of the sciences an irksome, and even a
hazardous employment. Coldness or opposition from those whom we honour
and love is always painful; and yet it should be endured, rather than
that the best interests both of the present and future generations
should be sacrificed. The opinions of all good men deserve
consideration;--but when they are merely opinions, and are not founded
on reason, they are at best but specious; and when they are opposed to
truth, and are contrary to experience, a zealous adherence to them
becomes sinful and dangerous. Such persons ought to commend, rather than
blame, the reformer in education, when he declines to adopt ancient
dogmas which he finds to be useless and hurtful: And at all events, if
all have agreed to disregard the authority of an Aristotle or a Newton,
when opposed to new facts and additional evidence, the Educationist must
not allow himself to be driven from the path of fact and experience by
either friends or enemies. No authority can make darkness light;--and
although he may be opposed for a time, and the public mind may be abused
for a moment, it will at last correct itself, and truth will prevail.

But the friends of education ought in no case to put the perseverance of
those who labour for its improvement to so severe a trial. They ought in
justice, as well as charity, to cultivate a forbearing and a candid
spirit; and they will have many opportunities of exercising these
virtues during the progress of this science. Education is confessedly
but in its infancy; and therefore it must grow much, and change much,
before it can arrive at maturity. But if there be an increasing
opposition to all advance, and if a stumbling-block be continually
thrown in the way of those who labour to perfect it, the labourers may
be discouraged, and the work be indefinitely postponed. Let all such
then guard against a blind opposition, or an attempt to explain away
palpable facts, merely because they lead to principles which are new, or
to conclusions which are at variance with their pre-conceived opinions.
If they persevere in a blind opposition, they may find at last that they
have been resisting truth, and defrauding their neighbour. Truth can
never be the enemy of man, although many inadvertently rank themselves
among its opponents. The resistance which has invariably been offered to
every important discovery hitherto, should be a beacon to warn the
inconsiderate and the prejudiced against being over-hasty in rejecting
discoveries in education; and the obloquy that now rests on the memory
of such persons, should be a warning to them, not to plant thorns in
their own pillows, or now to sow "the wind, lest they at last should
reap the whirlwind."


_On the Improvement of Teaching as an Art._

As Education on account of its importance takes precedence in the
sciences, so Teaching should rank first among the arts. The reasons for
this arrangement are numerous; but the consideration of two will be
sufficient.--The first is, that all the other arts refer chiefly to
time, and the conveniences and comforts of this world; while the art of
teaching not only includes all these, but involves also many of the
interests of man through eternity.--And the second is, that without this
art all the other arts would produce scarcely any advantage. Without
education of some kind, men are, and must continue to be savages,--it
being the only effectual instrument of civilization. It is the chief, if
not the only means for improving the condition of the human family, and
for restoring man to the dignity of an intelligent and virtuous being.

As "Science" is the investigation and knowledge of principles, so an
"art" may be defined as a system of means, in accordance with these
principles, for attaining some special end. Teaching is one of the arts;
and it depends as entirely for its success upon a right application of
the principles of the science of education, as the art of dying does
upon the principles of chemistry. As an art, therefore, teaching must be
subjected to all those laws which regulate the improvement of the other
arts, and without which it can never be successfully carried on, far
less perfected. These laws are now very generally understood; and we
shall briefly advert to a few of them, which are necessary for our
present purpose, and endeavour to point out their relation to the art of

1. One of the first rules connected with the improvement of the arts is,
that the artist have _a specific object in view, for the attainment of
which all his successive operations are to be combined_.--The
manufacturer has his _cloth_ in prospect, before he has even purchased
the wool of which it is to be composed; and it is the desire of
procuring cloth of the most suitable quality, and by the easiest means,
that compels him to draw liberally and constantly from the facts
ascertained, and the principles developed, by the several sciences. From
the science of mechanics he derives the various kinds of machinery used
in the progressive stages of its production; and from the science of
chemistry he obtains the processes of dying, and printing, and dressing.
But he never troubles himself about the science of mechanics or of
chemistry in the abstract; he thinks only of his cloth, and of these
sciences as means to assist him in procuring it. He is careful of his
machinery, and is constantly alive to the mode of its working, and is
thus prompted to adopt such improvements as observation or experience
may suggest; but it is not the machinery of itself that he either cares
for, or thinks about. No; it is still the cloth that he keeps in view;
and his machinery is esteemed or slighted, adopted or abandoned, exactly
in proportion as it forwards his object. The processes necessary in the
different departments of his establishment, are complicated and various,
and to a stranger they are both curious and instructive; but it is
neither the labour nor the variety that he is seeking. His is a very
different object; and of this object he never loses sight; for the
varied operations of stapling and carding, of spinning and weaving, are
nothing more than means which he employs for accomplishing his end. He
knows the uses of the whole complicated operations; and he sees at a
glance, and can tell in a moment, how each in its turn contributes to
the great object of all,--the production of a good and marketable cloth.

Now this law ought to be applied with the utmost strictness to the art
of teaching. For if teaching be really an art,--that is, a successive
combination of means,--it should undoubtedly be a combination of means
to some specific end. Nothing can be more obvious, than that a man who
sits down to work, should know what he intends to do, and how he is to
do it. Such a line of conduct should be imperatively demanded of the
teacher, both on account of the importance of his work, and of the
immense value of the material upon which he is to operate. The end he
has in view, whatever that end may be, ought to be correctly defined
before he begins; and no exercise should upon any account be prescribed
or demanded from his pupils, which does not directly, or indirectly at
least, conduce to its attainment. To do otherwise is both injudicious
and unjust. For if the operations of the husbandman during spring have
to be selected and curtailed with the strictest attention to time and
the seasons, how carefully ought the energies and the time of youth to
be economized, when they have but one short spring time afforded them,
during which they are to sow the seed which shall produce good or evil
fruit for eternity? As to what this great end which the teacher ought
steadily to contemplate should be, we shall afterwards enquire; at
present we are desirous only of establishing this general law in the art
of teaching, that there should be an end accurately defined, and
constantly kept in view; and for the attainment of which every exercise
prescribed in the school should assist. The teacher who does otherwise
is travelling in the dark, and compelling labour for labour's
sake;--like the manufacturer who would keep all his machinery in motion,
not to make cloth, but to appear to be busy.

2. Another law adopted in the successful prosecution of the arts is, _to
use the best known means for attaining any particular end_.--This law
is well known in all the other arts, and success invariably depends upon
its adoption. The fields are not now tilled by the hoe, nor is cotton
spun by the hand. These modes of operating have no doubt the
recommendation of antiquity; but here antiquity is always at a discount,
and no one doubts the propriety of its being so. The arts are advancing;
and they who would impede their progress on the plea of not departing
from the usages of antiquity, would be pitied or laughed at.

The art of teaching, like the other arts, depends for its success on a
strict adherence to this law; and the fear of departing in this case
from the particular usages of our ancestors is equally unreasonable.
Soft ground in the valleys compelled them to travel their pack horses
right over the hills, and the want of the "Jenny" made them spin their
yarn by the hand; but still, the same principle which guided them in the
adoption of those methods, was strictly the one which we are here
recommending, that of "using the best _known_ means for accomplishing
the particular end." Those who adopt the principle do most honour to
their sagacity; while their shallow admirers, by abandoning the
principle, and clinging to their necessarily imperfect mode of applying
it, at once libel their good sense, and dishonour those whom they
profess to revere. As society is rapidly advancing, paternal affection
would undoubtedly have prompted them to advise their descendants to take
the benefits of every advance;--and it would be as reasonable for us to
suppose, that if they were now alive, they would advise us to travel
over the hills on their old roads, or make our cloth in the old way, as
to think they would be gratified by our continuing to use exercises in
education, which sound philosophy and experience have shewn to be
fallacious and hurtful, or that they would be displeased by the use of
those which extensive experiment has now proved to be natural, easy, and

These ancestral trammels have all been shaken off, wherever the
acquisition of money is concerned. The mechanical processes of his
forefathers have no charm for the modern manufacturer, when he can
attain his object more economically by a recent improvement. Neither
does he go blindfold upon a mere chance,--seldom even upon a sagacious
conjecture,--unless there be some good grounds for its formation. In
every successive stage of his operations, he is awake to the slightest
appearance of defect; and he hesitates not a moment in abandoning a
lesser good for a greater, whenever he perceives it. He husbands
time;--he husbands expense;--he husbands supervision and risk. Every
step with him is a step in advance;--every operation has a
design;--every movement has a meaning;--and he makes all unite for the
attainment of one common object. Can we doubt that, in like manner, the
most rigid economy of time and labour ought to be adopted in the art of
teaching? When the end has once been distinctly defined, it ought
steadily to be kept in view; and no exercise should be prescribed which
does not contribute to its attainment. There should be no bustling about
nothing; no busy idleness; no fighting against time; no unnecessary
labour, nor useless exhaustion of the pupil's energies. The time of
youth is so precious, and there is so much to be done during it, that
economy here is perhaps of more importance than in any thing else. Every
book or exercise, therefore, which has not a palpable tendency to
forward the great object designed by education, should by the teacher be
at once given up.

3. Another law which experience has established as necessary for the
perfecting of any of the arts is, _a fair and honest application of the
successive discoveries of science to its improvement_.--This has been
the uniform practice in those arts which have of late been making such
rapid progress. The artist and mechanic are never indifferent to the
various improvements which are taking place around them; nor do they
ever stand apart, till they are forced upon their notice by third
parties, or public notoriety. There is, in the case of the manufacturer,
no nervous timidity about innovation; nor does he ever attempt to
deceive himself by ignorantly supposing that the change can be no
improvement.--Nor will he suffer himself to be deceived by others. His
workmen are not allowed, to save themselves future trouble, to be
careless or sinister in their trials of the improvement; for he knows,
that however it may be with them, yet if his neighbour succeeds, and he
fails, it may prove his ruin.

Such also should be the conduct of the teacher. The time has now gone by
when parents were ignorant, either of what was communicated at school,
or the manner in which it was taught. The improvement of their children
by education, has become a primary object with all sensible parents; and
they will never again be satisfied with a school or a teacher, where
solid instruction, and the most useful kind of knowledge are not
imparted. Ameliorations in his art, therefore, is now as necessary to
the teacher, as improvements in machinery are to the mechanic and the
manufacturer. It will no longer do for him to say, "I can see no
improvement in the change," if the parents of his pupils have been able
to discover it; and the teacher who stands still in the present forward
march of society, will soon find himself left alone. The practical
Educationist, like the mechanician, ought no doubt to be cautious in
adopting changes upon chance; but wherever an improvement in his art has
been sufficiently proved by fair experiment or long experience, and
particularly, when the principle upon which its success depends has been
fully ascertained, his rejecting the change on the plea of
inconvenience, or from the fear of trouble, is not only an act of
injustice to the parents of his pupils, but is a wrong which will very
soon begin to re-act upon his own interests. The effect of indifference
to improvement in this, as in other arts, may not be felt for a time;
but as soon as _others_ have made themselves masters of the improvements
which he has rejected, the successive departure of his pupils, and the
melting away of his classes, will at last awaken him to a sense of his
folly, when it may be too late. Such has usually been the effect of
remissness in the other arts; and the present state of the public mind
in regard to education, indicates a similar result in similar

In connection with this part of our subject, it may here be necessary to
remark, that as the experience of all teachers may not be alike in the
_first working_ of a newly applied principle,--the principle itself,
when fully ascertained, is not on that account to be either belied or
abandoned. There are many concurring circumstances, which may make an
exercise that succeeds well in the hands of one person, fail in the
hands of another; but to refuse credence to the principle itself,
because he cannot as yet successfully apply it, is neither prudent nor
wise. There are chemical experiments so exceedingly nice, and depending
on so many varying circumstances, that they frequently fail in the hands
of even good operators. But the chemical principles upon which they rest
remain unchanged, although individual students may have not been able
successfully to apply them. If their professor has but _once_ fairly and
undoubtedly succeeded in ascertaining the facts on which the principle
is based, their failure for a thousand times is no proof that the
ascertained principle is really a fallacy. In like manner, any important
principle in education, if once satisfactorily ascertained, is a truth
in the science, and will remain a truth, whoever may believe or deny it.
If it has been proved to produce certain effects in certain given
circumstances, it will in all future times do the same, when the
circumstances are similar. The inability, therefore, of a parent or
teacher, to produce equal effects by its means, may be good enough
proof of his want of skill, but it is no proof of the want of inherent
power in the principle itself. The rings of Saturn which my neighbour's
telescope has clearly brought to view, are not blotted from the heavens
because my pocket glass has failed to detect them.

It has been by attention to these, and similar rules, that all the
secular arts have advanced to their present state; and the art of
teaching must be perfected by similar means. There ought therefore to be
a distinct object in view on the part of the teacher,--a specific end
which he is to endeavour to arrive at in his intercourse with his pupil.
For the attainment of this end, he must employ the best and the surest
means that are in his power; for the same purpose, he ought honestly and
fairly to apply the successive discoveries of science as they occur; and
should never allow himself to abandon an exercise founded upon
ascertained principles, merely because he at first finds difficulty in
putting it in operation.


_On the Establishment of Sound Principles in Education._

The application of the foregoing remarks to our present purpose, is a
matter of great practical importance. It has indeed been owing chiefly
to their having been hitherto overlooked, that education has been left
in the backward state in which we at present find it.

But if, as we have seen, education must bend to the same rigid
discipline to which the other sciences have had to submit,--and if
teaching can be improved only by following the laws which have
determined the success of the other arts--the question naturally
arises, "What is to be done now for education?"--"Where are we to
begin?"--"How are we to proceed?"--"In what manner are the principles of
the science to be investigated, so that they shall most extensively
promote the success of the art? and how is the art to be cultivated, so
that it may, to the fullest extent, be benefited by the science?" To
these enquiries we shall in the present chapter direct our attention.

The method of investigating the operations of Nature in the several
sciences is very nearly alike in all. For example, in the science of
chemistry, as we have formerly noticed, the first object of the
philosopher would be to take a comprehensive view of his whole subject,
and endeavour to separate the substances in Nature according to their
great leading characteristics. He would at once distinguish mineral
substances as differing from vegetables;--and vegetable substances as
differing from animals;--thus forming three distinct classes of objects,
blending with each other, no doubt, but still sufficiently distinct to
form what have been called the three kingdoms of Nature. The various
objects included under each of these he would again subdivide according
to their several properties;--and as he went forward, he would
endeavour, by careful examination and experiment, to ascertain, not only
their combinations, but also the characteristic properties of their
several elements. The chemist, in this method of investigating Nature,
almost always proceeds upwards, analytically, advancing from the general
to the special, from the aggregate to its parts, endeavouring to
ascertain as he proceeds the laws which regulate their composition and
decomposition, for the purpose simply of endeavouring to imitate them.
By this means alone he expects to perfect the science, and to benefit
the arts.

In the science of Botany, Zoology, Anatomy, Physiology, and almost all
the others, the same plan has been adopted with invariable success. The
subject, whatever it be, is looked upon as a whole, and then separated
into its great divisions;--these again, are subdivided into classes; and
these again, into orders, genera, species, and varieties, by which means
each minute part can be examined by itself in connection with the whole;
the memory and the judgment are assisted in their references and
application; and order reigns through the whole subject, which otherwise
would have been involved in inextricable confusion.

In education, as in the other sciences, Nature is our only sure teacher;
and the Educationist, therefore, who desires success, must proceed in
the investigation in a similar way. He must first take a comprehensive
view of Nature's educational processes; divide them into their several
kinds; and subdivide these again when necessary, that each may be viewed
alone. He must then ascertain the nature and the object of these
processes, and observe the means and the methods employed for
accomplishing them, that he may, if possible, be enabled to _imitate_
them. In this way, and in this way alone, he is to perfect the science
of education, and benefit the art of teaching.

That this is the best way yet known of proceeding in investigating and
improving the science of education, experience has already proved; and
that it must theoretically be so, we think can admit of little doubt.
The operations of Nature exhibit the soundest philosophy, and the most
perfect examples of art. The materials she selects are the most suitable
for the purpose; the means she employs are always the most simple and
efficient; and her ends are invariably gained at the least expense of
material, labour, and time. In the pursuit, therefore, of any object or
end similar to that in which we find Nature engaged, man's truest wisdom
is to distrust his own speculations, and to learn from her teaching. He
should, with a child-like docility, follow her leadings and imitate her
operations, both as it respects the materials he is to employ, and the
mode and order in which he is to use them. Were an artist to find
himself at a loss for the want of an instrument to accomplish some
particular purpose, or some new material upon which to operate, or some
special, but as yet unknown means for attaining some new and important
object,--we are warranted by facts to say, that the natural philosopher
would be his best instructor. For if he can be directed to some similar
operation of Nature, or have pointed out to him some one or more of
Nature's pupils,--some animal or insect, perhaps,--whose labour or
object is similar to his own, he will most probably find there, or have
suggested to him by their mode of procedure, the very thing he is in
search of. By studying their methods of operating, and the means
employed by them for accomplishing their end, some principle or device
will be exhibited, by the imitation of which his own special object will
most readily and most successfully be attained. Every day's experience
gives us additional proof of the importance and soundness of this
suggestion. For it is a remarkable fact, that there is scarcely a useful
mechanical invention to which genius has laid claim,--and deservedly
laid claim,--that has not its prototype somewhere in nature. The same
principles, working perhaps in the same manner, have been silently in
operation, thousands of years before the inventor was born; but which,
from want of observation, or the neglect of its practical application to
useful purposes, lay concealed and useless. This culpable neglect in
practically applying the works and ways of God as he intended, has
carried with it its own punishment; for thousands of the conveniences
and arts, which at present smooth and adorn the paths of civilized life,
have all along been placed within the reach of intelligent man. If he
had but employed his intelligence, as he ought to have done, in
searching them out, and had asked himself when he perceived them, "What
does this teach me?" the very question would have suggested a use. This
accordingly will be found to be the true way of studying nature, and one
especial design for which a beneficent Creator has spread out his works
for our inspection. In proof, and in illustration of this fact, we may
refer to the telescope, which has from the beginning had its type in the
human eye;--to the formation of paper, which has been manufactured for
thousands of years by the wasp;--to the levers, joints, and pulleys of
the human body, of which the mechanist has as yet only made imperfect
imitations;--and to the saw of an insignificant insect, (the saw-fly)
which has never yet been successfully imitated by man.

In prosecuting our investigations into the science of education,
therefore, our business is to study Nature in all the educational
processes in which we find her occupied, and of which we shall find
there are many;--to observe and collect facts;--to detect principles,
and to discover the means employed in carrying them out, and the modes
of their working;--to trace effects back to their causes, and then again
to follow the effects through their various ramifications, to some
ultimate end. These are the things which it is the business of the
Educationist to investigate, and to record for the benefit of the
teacher and his art.

The duty of the teacher, on the other hand, is to apply to his own
purposes, and to turn to use in the prosecution of his objects, those
facts discovered by the philosopher in the study of Nature. He should by
all means understand the principles upon which Nature works, and the
means which she employs for attaining her ends. He ought, as far as
circumstances will allow, to arrive at his object by similar means;
chusing similar materials, and endeavouring invariably to work upon the
same model. By honestly following out such a mode of procedure, he must
be successful; for although he can never attain to the perfection of
Nature, yet this is obviously the best, if not the only method by which
he can ever approximate towards it.




_A Comprehensive View of the several Educational Processes carried on by

We have seen in the former chapters, that the most probable method of
succeeding in any difficult undertaking is to learn from Nature, and to
endeavour to imitate her. The first great question with the Educationist
then should be, "Does Nature ever teach?" If he can find her so
employed, and if he be really willing to learn, he may rest assured,
that by carefully studying her operations, he will be able to detect
something in the ends which she aims at, and the methods which she
adopts for attaining these ends, that will lead him to the selection of
similar means, and crown him ultimately with similar success.

Now we find that Nature does teach; and in so far as rational beings are
concerned, whether angelic or human, it appears to be her chief and her
noblest employment. In regard to the human family, she no doubt, at a
certain period, intends that the task should be taken up and carried on
by parents and teachers, under her controul; but when we compare the
nature and success of their operations with hers, we perceive the
immense inferiority of their best endeavours, and are obliged to
confess, that in many instances, instead of forwarding her work, they
either mar or destroy it. For in regard to the _matter_ of their
teaching, it may be observed, that they can teach their pupils nothing,
except what they or their predecessors have learned of Nature
before;--and as to the _manner_ in which it is taught, it is generally
so very imperfect, that for their success, teachers are often indebted
in no small degree to the constant interference of Nature, in what is
ordinarily termed the "common sense" of their pupils, for rectifying
many of their errors, and supplying innumerable deficiencies. Of this we
shall by and by have to advert more particularly.

The educational operations of Nature are universal; and she attaches
large rewards to diligence in attending to them. She evidently intends,
as we have said, that the parent and teacher should take up, and follow
out her suggestions in this great work; but even when this is delayed,
or altogether neglected, her part of the proceedings is not abandoned.
Nature is so strong within the pupil, and her educational promptings are
so powerful, that even without a teacher, he is able for a time to teach
himself. In man, and even among many of the more perfect specimens of
the lower creation, Nature has suspended the larger portion of their
comforts and their security, upon attention to her lessons, and the
practical application of that which she teaches. The dog which shuns the
person who had previously beaten him; the infant that clings to its
nurse, and refuses to leave her; the boy who refuses to cross the ditch
he never tried before; the savage who traces the foot-prints of his
game; the man who shrinks from a ruffian countenance; and Newton, when
the fall of an apple prompted him to pursue successively the lessons
which that simple event suggested to him, are all examples of the
teachings of Nature,--specimens of the manner in which she enables her
pupils to collect and retain knowledge, and stimulates them to apply it.
Wherever these suggestions of Nature are individually neglected, there
must be discomfort and danger, and wretchedness to the _person_ doing
so; and wherever they are not taken up by communities, and socially
taught by education of some kind or another, _society_ must necessarily
remain little better than savage.--The opposite of this is equally true;
for wherever they are personally attended to, the individual promotes
his own safety and comfort; and when they are socially taken up and
followed out by education, however imperfectly, then civilization, and
national security, prosperity, and happiness, are the invariable

The information which we are to derive from the Academy of Nature, is to
be found chiefly in those instances where she is least interfered with
by the operations of others. In these we shall endeavour to follow her;
and, by classifying her several processes, and investigating each of
them in its order, we shall assuredly be able to arrive at some first
principles, to guide us in imitating the modes of her working, and which
will enable us, in some measure, to share in her success.

When we take a comprehensive view of the educational processes of
Nature, we find them arranging themselves under four great divisions,
blending into each other, no doubt, like the kingdoms of Nature and the
colours of the rainbow, but still perfectly distinct in their great

The _first_ educational process which is observable in Nature's Academy,
is the stimulating of her pupil to such an exercise of mind upon
external objects, as tends powerfully and rapidly to expand and
strengthen the powers of his mind. This operation begins with the first
dawning of consciousness, and continues under different forms during the
whole period of the individual's life.

The _second_ educational process, which in its commencement is perhaps
coeval with the first, is Nature's stimulating her pupil to the
acquisition of knowledge, for the purpose of retaining and using it.

The _third_ consists in the disciplining of her pupil in the practical
use, and proper application of the knowledge received; by which means
the knowledge itself becomes better understood, better remembered, and
much more at the command of the will than it was before:--

And her _fourth_ educational process consists, in training her pupil to
acquire facility in communicating by language, his knowledge and
experience to others.

The _first_ of these four general departments in Nature's educational
process, _is the developement and cultivation of the powers of her
pupil's mind_.--This part of Nature's work begins at the first dawn of
intelligence; and it continues through every other department of her
educational process. For several months during infancy, sensation itself
is but languid. The first indistinct perceptions of existence gradually
give place to a dreamy and uncertain consciousness of personal
identity.--Pain is felt; light is perceived; objects begin to be
defined, and distinguished; ideas are formed; and then, but not till
then, reflection, imagination, and memory, are gradually brought into
exercise, and cultivated. It is the extent and strength of these
faculties, as we shall afterwards see, that is to measure the
educational progress of the child; and therefore it is, that the first
object of Nature seems to be, to secure their proper developement. The
child feels and thinks; and it is these first feelings and thoughts,
frequently repeated, that enable it gradually to extend its mental
operations. It is in this way only that the powers, of the mind in
infants are expanded and strengthened, as there can be no mental culture
without mental exercise. While a child is awake, therefore, Nature
prompts him to constant and unwearied mental exertion; by which means he
becomes more and more familiar with external objects; acquires a better
command over his own mind in perceiving and remembering them; and
becomes more and more fitted, not only for receiving constant accessions
of knowledge, but also for putting that knowledge to use.

The _second_ part of Nature's educational process, we have said,
consists in her powerfully stimulating her pupil to _the acquisition of
knowledge_.--This, which we call the second part of Nature's operations,
has been going on from an early period of the child's history, and it
acts usually in conjunction with the first. As soon as an infant can
distinguish objects, it begins to form ideas regarding them. It
remembers their shape; it gradually acquires a knowledge of their
qualities; and these it remembers, and, as we shall immediately see, is
prompted to put to use upon proper occasions.--It is in the acquisition
of this kind of knowledge that the principle of curiosity begins to be
developed. The child's desire for information is increased with every
new accession; and for this reason, its mental activity and
restlessness, while awake, have no cessation. Every glance of the eye,
every motion of the hands or limbs made to gratify its curiosity, as it
is called, is only an indication of its desire for information:--Every
sight or sound calls its attention; every portable object is seized,
mouthed, and examined, for the purpose of learning its qualities. These
operations at the instigation of Nature are so common, that they are
scarcely observed; but when we examine more minutely into their effects,
they become truly wonderful. For example, were we to hear of an infant
of two or three years of age, having learned in the course of a few
months to distinguish each soldier in a regiment of Negroes, whose
features their very parents perhaps would have some difficulty in
discriminating; if he could call each individual by his name; knew also
the names and the uses of their several accoutrements; and, besides all
this, had learned to understand and to speak their language;--we would
be surprised and incredulous. And yet this would be an accumulation of
knowledge, not much greater than is attained in the same space of time
by many of the feeble unsophisticated pupils of Nature.--Infants, having
no temptation to depart from her mode of discipline, become in a short
period acquainted with the forms, and the uses, and even the names, of
thousands of persons and objects, not only without labour, but with vast
satisfaction and delight.

The training of her pupils to _the practical use of their knowledge_,
forms the _third_ department in Nature's educational process.--This is
the great end which the two previous departments were designed to
accomplish. This is Nature's _chief_ object;--all the others are
obviously subordinate. The cultivation of the mind, and the acquisition
of knowledge were necessary;--but that necessity arose from the
circumstance of their being preparatory to this. Nature, in fact,
appears to have stamped this department of her operations almost
exclusively with her own seal;--repudiating all knowledge that remains
useless, and in a short time blotting it entirely from the memory of her
pupils; while that portion of their acquired knowledge, on the contrary,
which is useful and is put to use, becomes in proportion more familiar,
and more permanent. It is also worthy of remark, that the knowledge
which is most useful, is always most easily and pleasantly acquired.

The superior importance of this department of education is very
observable. In the previous departments of Nature's educational process,
the child was induced to _acquire_ new ideas;--in this he is prompted to
_make use of them_. In the former he was taught to _know_;--in this he
is trained to _act_. For example, if he has learned that his nurse is
kind, Nature now prompts him to act upon that knowledge, and he
accordingly strains every nerve to get to his nurse;--if he has learned
that comfits are sweet, he acts upon that knowledge, and endeavours to
procure them;--and if he has once experimentally learned that the fire
will burn, he will ever afterwards keep from the fire.

Last of all comes the _fourth_, or supplementary step in this beautiful
educational process of Nature. It consists in gradually training her
pupil to _communicate the knowledge and experience which he has
attained_.--It is probable that Nature begins this part of her process
before the child has acquired the use of language;--but as it is by
language chiefly that man holds fellowship with man, it is not till he
has learned to speak that the mental exercise on which its success
depends, becomes sufficiently marked and obvious. It consists, not in
the acquisition of language so much, as in the use of language after it
has been gained. The pupil is for this purpose prompted by Nature to
think and to speak at the same moment;--mentally to prepare one
sentence, while he is giving utterance to its predecessor. That this is
not the result of instinct, but is altogether an acquisition made under
the tuition of Nature by the mental exertions of the infant himself, is
obvious from the fact, that he is at first incapable of it, and never
pronounces three, and very seldom two words consecutively without a
pause between each. This the child continues to do after he is perfectly
familiar with the meaning of many words, and after he can also pronounce
each of them individually. In giving utterance to the first words which
he uses, there is an evident suspension of the mind in regard to every
thing else. His whole attention appears to be concentrated upon the word
and its pronunciation. He cannot think of any thing else and pronounce
the word at the same time; and it is not till after long practice that
he can utter two, three, or more words in a sentence, without hesitation
and a decided pause between them. It is only by degrees that he acquires
the ability to utter a phrase, and at last a short sentence, without
interruption. Nature prompts the child to this exercise, which from the
first attempt, to the full flow of eloquence in the extemporaneous
debater, consists simply in commanding and managing one set of ideas in
the mind, at the moment the person is giving utterance to others. This
cannot be done by _the child_, but it is gradually acquired by _the
man_; and we shall see in its proper place, that this acquisition is
entirely the result of a mental exercise, such as we have here
described, and to which various circumstances in childhood and youth are
made directly subservient.

Here then we have the highway of education, marked off, and walled in by
Nature herself. That these four great departments in her educational
process will be much better defined, and their parts better understood,
when experience has given more ample opportunities for their
observation, cannot be doubted; and it is not improbable, that future
investigations will suggest a different arrangement of heads, and a
different modification of their parts also; but still, the great outline
of the whole, we think, is so distinctly marked, that, so far as they
go, there can be little mistake; and by following them, we are most
likely to obtain a large amount of those benefits which education is
intended to secure.--To excel Nature is impossible; but by endeavouring
to imitate her, we may at least approach nearer to her perfections.

It is not enough, however, for us to perceive the great outlines of
Nature's operations in education; we must endeavour to follow her into
the details, and investigate the means which she employs for carrying
them into practical effect. We shall therefore take up the several
departments above enumerated in their order, and endeavour to trace the
laws which regulate her operations in each, for the purpose of assisting
the teacher in his attempts to imitate them.


_On the Method employed by Nature for cultivating the Powers of the

The _first_ step in Nature's educational process, is the cultivation of
the powers of the mind; and, without entering into the recesses of
metaphysics, we would here only recall to the recollection of the
reader, that the mind, so far as we yet know, can be cultivated in no
other way than by voluntary exercise:--not by mere sensation, or
perception, nor by the involuntary flow of thought which is ever passing
through the mind; but by the active mental operation called
"thinking,"--the voluntary exertion of the powers of the mind upon the
idea presented to it, and which we have denominated "reiteration,"[1] as
perhaps best descriptive of that thinking of the presented idea "over
again," by which alone, as we shall see, the mind is cultivated, and
knowledge increased.

It is also here worthy of remark, that the cultivation of the powers of
her pupil's mind, as a preliminary to their acquiring and applying of
knowledge, appears to be a settled arrangement of Nature, and one which
must be rigidly followed by the teacher, wherever success is to be hoped
for. Analogy, in other departments of Nature's operations, proves its
necessity, and points out its wisdom; for she is never premature, and
never stimulates her pupils to any work, till they have been properly
prepared for accomplishing it. Hence the consistency and importance of
commencing the process of education, by expanding and cultivating the
powers of the mind, preparatory to the future exertions of the pupil;
and hence also the wisdom of requiring no more from the child, than the
state of his mental powers at the time are capable of performing. Our
object, at present, is to discover the means employed by Nature for
accomplishing this preliminary object, that we may, by imitating her
plans, obtain the greatest amount of benefit.

In infancy, and during the early part of a child's life, each of the
thousands of objects and actions which are presented to its observation,
falls equally on the organs of sense, and each of them _might_, if the
child had pleased, have become objects of perception, as well as objects
of sensation. But it is evident, that till the mind occupy itself upon
one or more of these objects, there can be no mental exercise, and, of
course, no mental culture. On the contrary, if the mind shall single out
any one object from the mass that surrounds it,--shall entertain the
idea suggested by its impression on the organs of sense, and think of
it--that is, review it on the mind--there is then mental exercise, and,
in consequence, mental cultivation. From this obvious truth it
necessarily follows, that the cultivation of the mind does not depend
upon the multitude of objects presented to the observation of a child,
but only on those which it really does observe,--which it looks at, and
thinks upon, by an active voluntary exercise of its own powers. The
child, no doubt, _might_ have smelt every odour; it _might_ have
listened to every sound that entered the ear; and it _might_ have looked
upon every image that entered the eye; but we know that it did not. A
few of them only were thought of,--the ideas which they suggested were
alone "reiterated" by the mind,--and therefore they, and they alone,
tended to its cultivation.

As this act of the mind lies at the root of all mental improvement,
during every stage of the pupil's education, it becomes a matter of
considerable importance, that its nature, and mode of operation, should
be thoroughly understood.

Let us for this purpose suppose that a lighted candle is suddenly
presented before a young infant. He looks at it; he thinks of it; his
mind is employed with the flame of the candle in a manner quite
different from what it is upon any thing else in the room. All the other
images which enter the eye fail to make an impression upon the mind; but
this object which the child looks at,--observes,--does this; and
accordingly, while it is passive as to every thing else, the mind is
found to be actively engaged with the candle. He not only sees it, but
he looks at it. This, and similar "reiterations" of ideas by the mind,
frequently repeated by the infant, gradually communicate to it a
consciousness of mental power, and enable him more and more easily to
wield it. Every such instance of the reiteration of an idea,--of the
voluntarily exercise of active thought,--strengthens the powers of the
mind, so that he is soon able to look at and follow with his eyes other
objects, although they are much less conspicuous than the glare of a

When we examine the matter a little farther in regard to infants, we
perceive, that all the little arts used by the mother or the nurse, to
"amuse the child," as it is called, are nothing more than means employed
to excite this reiteration of ideas by the mind. A toy, for example, is
presented to the infant, and his attention is fixed upon it. He is not
satisfied with passively seeing the toy, as he sees all the other
objects in the room, but he actively looks at it. Nor is this enough;
the toy is usually seized, handled, mouthed, and turned; and each
movement prompts the mind to active thought,--to reiterate the idea
which each of the sensations suggests. These impressions are no doubt
rapid, but they are real; and each of them has been reiterated,--actively
thought of,--before they could either be received, or remembered; and it
is only by these impressions frequently repeated, in which the mind is
vigorously and delightfully engaged, that it acquires that activity and
strength which we so frequently witness in the young.

At a more advanced period during childhood and youth, we find the
cultivation of the mind still depending upon the same principle. It is
not enough that numerous objects be presented to the senses of the
pupil; or that numerous words or sounds be made to vibrate in his ears;
or even that he himself be made mechanically to utter them. This may be
done, and yet the mind may remain perfectly inactive with respect to
them all:--Nay, experience shews, that during such mechanical exercises,
his mind may all the time be actively employed upon something else.
There must therefore, not only be a hearing, or a reading of the words
which convey an idea, but he must make the idea his own, by thinking it
over again for himself. Hence it is that mental vigour is not acquired
in proportion to the number of pages that the pupil is compelled to
read; nor to the length of the discourses which are delivered in his
hearing; nor to the multiplicity of objects placed before him. It is
found entirely to depend upon his diligence in thinking for himself;--in
reiterating in his own mind the ideas which he hears, or reads, or which
are suggested to his mind by outward objects. This is still the same act
of the mind which we have described in the infant, with this very
important difference, however, that a large portion of his ideas is now
suggested by _words_, instead of _things_; but it is the ideas, and not
the words, that the mind lays hold of, and by which its powers are
cultivated. When this act therefore is successfully forced upon a child
in any of his school operations, the mind will be disciplined and
improved;--but wherever it is not produced, however plausible or
powerful the exercise may _appear_ to be, it will on scrutiny be found
to be totally worthless in education,--a mere mechanical operation, in
which, there being no mental exertion, there can be no mental culture.

In the adult, as well as in the young and the infant, the culture of the
mind is carried on in every case by the operation of the same
principle.--However various the means employed for this purpose may be,
they all depend for their success upon this kind of active
thought,--this reiteration of the _ideas_ suggested in the course of
reading, hearing, observation, or reasoning. A man may turn a wheel, or
point pins, or repeat words from infancy to old age, without his mind's
being in the least perceptible degree benefited by such operations;
while the mill-wright, the engineer, or the artist, whose employments
require varied and active thought, cannot pursue his employment for a
single day, without mental culture, and an acquisition of mental
strength.--The reason is, that in mere mechanical operations there is
nothing to induce this act of reiteration,--this active mental exercise
of which we are speaking. In the former case, the individual is left to
the train of thought in the mind, which appears to afford no mental
cultivation;--whereas, in the latter, the mind is, by the acts of
comparing, judging, trying, and deciding, which the nature of his
occupation renders necessary, constantly excited to active
thought,--that is, to the reiteration of the several ideas presented to

These remarks may be thought by some to be exceedingly commonplace and
self-evident.--It may be so. If they be admitted, we ask no more.--Our
purpose at present is answered, if we have detected a principle in
education, by the operation of which the powers of the mind are
invariably expanded and strengthened;--an effect which, so far as we yet
know, in its absence never takes place. It is by means of this principle
alone that Nature accomplishes this important object, both in young and
old; but its effects are especially observable in the young, where, her
operations not being so much interfered with, we find her producing by
its means the most extraordinary effects, and that even during the most
imbecile period of her pupil's existence.

In concluding this part of our investigation, we would very briefly
remark, that the existence of this principle in connection with the
cultivation of the mind, accounts in a very satisfactory manner for the
beneficial results which usually accompany the study of languages,
mathematics, and some other branches of education similar in their
nature.--These objects of study, when once acquired, may never
afterwards be used, and will consequently be lost; but in learning them
the pupil was compelled to think,--to exercise his own mind on the
subjects taught,--to reflect, and to reiterate the ideas communicated to
him, till they had been fully mastered. The mental vigour which was at
first forced upon the pupil, by these beneficial exercises, remains with
him, and is exercised upon other objects, as they are presented to his
observation in ordinary life.--The mind in commencing these studies
gradually emancipates itself from the mechanical tendencies which an
improper system of teaching had previously formed, and now gathers
strength daily by this natural mode of exercising its powers. It is the
effects of this kind of discipline that constitute the chief element of
a cultivated mind. In this principally consists the difference between a
man of "liberal education," and others who have been less highly
favoured.--His superiority does not lie in his ability to read Latin and
Greek,--for these attainments may long ago have been forgotten and
lost;--but in the state of his mind, and the superior cultivation of the
mental powers.--He possesses a clearness, a vigour, and a grasp of mind
above others, which enable him at a glance to comprehend a
statement;--to judge of its accuracy;--and, without effort, to arrange
and communicate his ideas concerning it. This ability, as we have seen,
can be acquired only by active mental exercise, and is not necessarily
the result of extensive reading, nor is it always accompanied by
extensive knowledge. It is the natural and the necessary product of
mental discipline, through which the above described act of
"reiteration," like a golden thread, runs from beginning to end. It is
the fire of intellect, kindled at first perhaps by classical, and
mathematical studies; but which now, collecting force and fuel from
every circumstance of life, glows and shines, long after the materials
which first excited the flame have disappeared.

If then, as we formerly explained, the arts are to derive benefit from
the investigations of science, we are led to the conclusion, that the
wisdom of the Teacher will consist in taking advantage of the principle
which has been here exhibited. He should not speculate nor theorize, nor
go forward inconsiderately in using exercises, the benefits of which are
at least questionable; but he ought implicitly to follow Nature in the
path which she has thus pointed out to him. One chief object with him
should be, the cultivation of the minds of his pupils; and the only
method by which he can attain success in doing so has now been stated.
He must invent, or procure some exercise, or series of exercises, by
which the act of "reiteration" in the minds of his pupils shall be
regularly and systematically carried on.--He must induce them to think
for themselves, and to exercise the powers of their own minds
deliberately and frequently,--in the same manner as we see Nature
operating in the mind of a lively and active child. When he can
accomplish this, he will, and he must succeed; whereas, if he allow an
exercise to be prepared where this act of the mind is absent, he may
rest assured that he is deceiving both himself and the child.--The laws
of Nature are inflexible; and while she will undoubtedly countenance and
reward these who act upon the principles which she has established, she
will as certainly leave those who neglect them to eat the "fruit of
their own doings."--But the pupil, more than the Teacher is the
sufferer. Under the pure discipline of Nature in the infant and the
child, learning is not only their business, but their delight; and it is
only when her principles are unknown, or violently outraged, that
education becomes a burden, and the school-house a prison.


[1] Note A.


_On the Means by which Nature enables her Pupils to acquire Knowledge._

The _second_ stage of the pupil's advance under the teaching of Nature
is that in which she prompts and assists him in the acquisition of
knowledge.--The importance of this department of a child's education has
uniformly been acknowledged;--so much so, indeed, that it has too
frequently absorbed the whole attention of the Teacher, as if the
possession of knowledge were the whole of education.--That this is a
mistake we shall afterwards see; because the value of knowledge must
always be in proportion to the use we can make of it; but it is equally
true, that as we cannot use knowledge till we have acquired it, its
acquisition as a preliminary step is of the greatest importance. Our
intention is at present, to enquire into the means employed by Nature,
for enabling her pupils to acquire, to retain, and to classify their
knowledge; so that, by ascertaining and imitating her methods, we may in
some degree share in her success.

For some time during the early years of childhood Nature is the chief,
or the only Teacher; and the contrast between her success at that time,
and the success of the parent or teacher who succeeds her, is very
remarkable, and deserves consideration.

When we examine this process in the case of infants, we see Nature
acting without interference, and therefore with undeviating success.
Within a few months after the child has attained some degree of
consciousness, we find that Nature, under every disadvantage of body and
mind, has succeeded in communicating to the infant an amount of
knowledge, which, when examined in detail appears very wonderful.--The
child has been taught to know his relations and friends; he has acquired
the ability to use his limbs, and muscles, and organs, and the knowledge
how to do so in a hundred different ways. He has become familiar with
the form, the colour, the texture, and the names of hundreds of articles
of dress, of furniture, of food, and of amusement, not only without
fatigue, but in the exercise of the purest delight, and with increasing
energy. He has begun to contrast objects, and to compare them; and this
capacity he evinces by an undeviating accuracy in choosing those things
which please him, and in rejecting those things which he dislikes. But
above all, the infant, along with all this substantial knowledge, has
been taught to understand a language, and even to speak it. The fact of
all this having been accomplished by a child of only two or three years
of age, is so common, that the mysterious principles which it involves,
are too generally overlooked. We thoughtlessly allow them to escape
observation, as if they were mere matters of instinct, and were to be
ranked with the spider's catching its prey, or the sparrow's building
its nest. But the principles which regulate these different operations
are perfectly dissimilar. In the case of the spider and the sparrow
there is no teaching, and, of course, no learning. Their first web, and
their first nest, are as perfect as the last; but in the case of the
infant, with only two or three exceptions, there is nothing that he
does, and nothing that he knows, which he has not really
learned,--acquired by experience under the tuition of Nature, by the
actual use of his own mental and physical powers.

The benefits accruing to education, from successfully imitating Nature
in this department of her process, will be incalculable; not only in
adding to the amount of knowledge communicated, but in the ease and
delight which the young will experience in acquiring it. All must admit
that the pleasure, as well as the rapidity, of the educational process
in the young, continues only during the time that Nature is their
teacher;--and that her operations are generally checked, or neutralized
by the mismanagement of those who supersede her work, and begin to
theorize for themselves. The proof of this is to be found in the fact,
that although a child is much less capable of acquiring knowledge
between one and three years of age, than he is between eight and ten;
yet, generally, the amount of his intellectual attainments by his school
exercises, during the two latter years, bears no proportion to those of
the former, when Nature _alone_ was his teacher. In the one case, too,
his knowledge was acquired without effort or fatigue, and in the
exercise of the most delightful feelings;--in the other, quite the

That we shall ever be able to equal Nature in this part of her
educational process, is not to be expected; but that, by following up
the principles which she has developed, and imitating the methods by
which she accomplishes her ends, we shall become more and more
successful, there can be no doubt. The method, therefore, to be adopted
by us is, to examine carefully the principles which she employs with the
young, through the several stages of her process, and then, by adopting
exercises which embody these principles, to proceed in a course similar
to that which she has pointed out.

In prosecuting this plan, then, our object must be, first, to examine
generally the various means employed by Nature, in the acquisition of
knowledge by the young,--and then to attend more in detail to the mode
by which she applies the principles involved in each.

These general means appear to consist of four distinct principles,
which, for want of better definitions, we shall denominate
"Reiteration," "Individuation, or Abstraction," "Grouping, or
Association," and "Classification, or Analysing."[2]

The _first_ is the act of "Reiteration," of which we have already
spoken, as the chief instrument in cultivating the powers of the mind,
and without which, we shall also find, there can be no acquisition of
knowledge. The _second_ is the principle of "Individuation," by which
Nature communicates the knowledge of single ideas, or single objects, by
constraining the child to concentrate the powers of its mind upon one
object, or idea, till that object or idea is familiar, or, at least,
known. The _third_ is the common principle of "Grouping, or
Association," and appears to depend, in some degree, on the imaginative
powers, by which a child begins to associate objects or truths together,
after they have become individually familiar; so that any one of them,
when afterwards presented to the mind, enables the pupil at a glance, to
command all the others which were originally associated with it. The
_fourth_ is the principle of "Classification, or Analysing," by which
the mind distributes objects or truths according to their nature,--puts
every truth or idea, as it is received, into its proper place, and among
objects or ideas of a similar kind. This classification of objects is
not, as in the principle of grouping, regulated according to their
accidental relation to each other, by which the canary and the cage in
which it is confined would be classed together; but according to their
nature and character, by which the canary would be classified with
birds, and the cage among other articles of household furniture. All
knowledge, so far as we are aware, appears to be communicated and
retained for use, by means of these four principles; and we shall now
proceed to examine the mode in which each of them is employed by Nature
for that purpose.


[2] Note A.


_On Nature's Method of communicating Knowledge to the Young by the
Principle of Reiteration._

We have, in a former chapter, endeavoured to describe that particular
act of the mind which generally follows simple perception, and by which
an idea, when presented to it, is made the subject of _active thought_,
or is "_reiterated_" again to itself. We have found upon good evidence,
that it is by this process, whether simple or complex, that the powers
of the mind are cultivated; and we now proceed to shew, that it is by
the same act, and by it alone, that any portion of knowledge is ever
communicated.[3] No truth, or idea of any kind, can make an effective
entrance into the mind, or can find a permanent lodgement in the memory,
so as to become "knowledge," until it has successfully undergone this

There are two ways by which we usually acquire knowledge:--The one is by
_observation_, without the use of language, and which is common to us
with those who are born deaf and dumb; and the other is _through the
medium of words_, either heard or read. In both cases, however, the
knowledge retained consists entirely of the several _ideas_ which the
objects or the words convey; and what we are now to shew, is, that these
ideas thus conveyed, can neither be received by the mind, nor retained
by the memory, till they have undergone this process of "reiteration."
While, on the contrary, it will be seen that, whenever this process
really takes place, the idea thus reiterated does become part of our
knowledge, and is, according to circumstances, more or less permanently
fixed upon the memory. We shall for this purpose endeavour to trace the
operation of the principle, both in the case of ideas communicated by
objects without language, and in those conveyed to the mind by means of

That this act of reiteration of an idea by the mind, must take place,
before objects of perception can become part of our knowledge, will, we
think, be obvious, from a consideration of the following facts.--When,
for example, we are in a crowded room, or in the fields, numerous sounds
enter the ear,--thousands of images enter into and impress the eye, yet
not one of these becomes part of our knowledge till it is _thought
of_;--that is, till the idea suggested by the sensation, has not only
been perceived, but reiterated by the mind. This will appear to many so
plain, that any farther illustration of the fact may be deemed useless.
But experience, has shewn, that the illustration of this important
process in education, is not only expedient, but is really necessary; as
the overlooking of this simple principle has often been the cause of
great inconsistencies on the part of teachers. We shall therefore
endeavour to exhibit the working of the principle in various forms, that
it may be fully appreciated when we come to apply it.

Let us then suppose two children taken silently through a museum of
curiosities, the one active and lively, the other dull and listless. It
would be found on retiring, that the former would be able to give an
account of many things which he saw, and that the other would remember
little or nothing. In this case, all the objects in the exhibition were
seen by both; and the question arises, "Why does the knowledge of the
one, so much exceed that of the other?" The reason is, that the mind of
the one was active, while the mind of the other was in a great measure
inactive. Both _saw_ the objects; but only one _looked at_ them. The one
actively employed his mind--fixed his eye on an object, and thought of
it; that is, he reiterated the ideas it suggested to him, whether as to
form, or colour, or movement, and by doing so, the ideas thus
reiterated, were effectively received, and given over to the keeping of
the memory. The other child saw the whole; they were perhaps objects of
perception; but he allowed his sensations to die away as they were
received; and his mind was left to wander, or to remain under the dreamy
influence of a mere passive and evanescent train of thought. His
"attention" was not arrested;--his mind was not actively engaged on any
of the articles he saw; in other words, the ideas which they suggested
were not "reiterated."[4]

Now, that it was the want of this mental reiteration which was the
cause, and the only cause, why this very usual means of acquiring
knowledge failed to communicate it, may be proved we think by a very
simple experiment. For if we shall suppose that the child who was
obtaining no knowledge by means of the various curiosities around him,
had been asked at the time a question respecting any of them,--a stuffed
dog, for example,--his attention would have been arrested, and his mind
would have been roused to active thought. The words, "What is that?"
from his teacher, or companion, would have made him look at it, and
reiterate the ideas of its form and colour, so far as to enable him to
give an answer. And if he does so, it will be found afterwards, on
leaving the place, that although he might have remained unconscious of
the presence of all the other objects in the museum, he will remember
the stuffed dog, merely because, by the question, the idea it suggested
was taken up, and reiterated by the mind; while the sensations caused
by all the rest, were allowed to pass away.

There is another circumstance of daily occurrence, which adds to the
evidence that it is this principle which we have called "reiteration,"
which forms the chief, if not the only avenue, by which ideas find
access to the mind; and it is this:--That when at any time we bring to
recollection some former circumstance of life, however remote, or when
we recall any part of our former knowledge or experience, it comes up to
the mind, accompanied with the perfect consciousness, that, at the time
we are thinking of, this act of reiteration had taken place upon it;
that we most assuredly have thought of it before. We are not more
certain that it occupies our thoughts now, than we are that it did so
when it occurred;--that the operation of which we are at present
speaking, did actually then take place; and that it was by our doing so
then, that it is remembered now. This circumstance, when duly
considered, is of itself, we think, a sufficient proof, that no part of
our knowledge,--not a single idea,--can be acquired, or retained on the
memory by any other process, than by this act of reiteration.

Hence then it is plain, that all the knowledge which we receive by
observation, without the use of language, is received and retained on
the memory by the operation of this principle; and we will now proceed
to shew, that the same process must also take place, when our ideas are
received by means of _words_, whether these be spoken or read.

It is of great importance for us to remember, that the only legitimate
use of words is to convey ideas; and that Nature rigidly refuses to
acknowledge any other use to which they may be put. Hence it is, that in
conversation, we are quite unconscious of the words which our friend
uses in communicating his ideas. Nature impels us to lay hold of the
ideas alone; and in proof of this we find, that we have only to attempt
to concentrate our attention upon the _words_ he uses, and then we are
sure to lose sight of the _ideas_ which the words were intended to
convey. Hence it is, that our opinion of the style, and the language,
and the manner of a speaker, when the subject itself is not familiar,
are formed more by indirect impressions, than by direct attention to
these things while he speaks; and oftener by reflection afterwards, than
by any critical observation during the time. The reason of this, we may
remark once for all, is, that what the mind reiterates it
remembers,--but nothing more. If during the hearing, it reiterates the
ideas, it will then remember the ideas; but if it reiterates the words
without the ideas, it will remember nothing but words. Those therefore
who sow words in the minds of the young, hoping afterwards to reap
ideas, are as inconsistent as those who seek to "gather grapes of
thorns, or figs of thistles."[5]

Knowledge is received by the use of words in two ways,--either by oral
speech, or by written language; but in both cases, the reception of the
ideas is still governed by reiteration. We shall endeavour to examine
the operation in both cases.

Let us suppose that a teacher announces to a class of young children,
that "Cain killed his brother Abel,"--and then examines the state of
each child's mind in regard to it. All of them heard the words, but some
only perhaps are now in possession of the truth communicated. Those who
are so, followed the teacher in his announcement, not so much in
reiterating the words, as in reiterating the idea,--the truth itself;
and therefore it is, that they are now acquainted with the fact. Of
those who heard, but have failed to add this truth to their stock of
knowledge, there may be two classes;--those who attended to what was
said, but failed to interpret the words; and those whose attention was
not excited at all. Those who failed to interpret the words, or to
extract the idea from them, reiterated the _words_ to themselves, and
would perhaps be able to repeat the words again, but they do so in the
same manner that a person reads or repeats words in an unknown tongue.
The idea,--the truth,--is not yet perceived, and therefore cannot be
remembered. The others who remember nothing, have reiterated nothing;
their minds remained inactive. They also heard the words, but they
failed to listen to them; in the same way as they often see objects, but
do not look at them. Here it is evident that every child who reiterated
the idea in his own mind, is in possession of the fact communicated; and
all who did not do so, even although they reiterated the words, have no
addition made to their knowledge; which shews that it is only by this
act of the reiteration of the ideas, that any portion of our knowledge
is ever acquired.

That this is a correct exhibition of the principle, and a legitimate
inference from the phenomena, may be still farther proved by an
experiment similar to one formerly recommended. Let the teacher, in the
middle of a story, ask some of the inattentive pupils a question
respecting some of the persons or things he is speaking about, and force
the reiteration of that part of the narrative in the child's mind by
getting an answer, and it will be found at the close, that although he
may remember nothing else of all that he heard, yet he will most
perfectly remember that part about which he was questioned, and
respecting which he returned an answer.

The same thing may be ascertained by our own experience, in hearing a
lecture or sermon, or even in conversation with a friend. In these
cases, as long as our attention is kept up,--that is, as long as we
continue to reiterate the ideas that we hear,--we may remember them; but
when our minds flag, or wander; in other words, when we cease to
reiterate the ideas of the speaker, the sounds enter our ear, but the
matter is gone. All that has been said during that period of inattention
has been lost; it never has formed, and never can form, part of our

Thus we see, that in the act of hearing oral communications, the
principle of reiteration of the ideas is obviously necessary for the
acquiring of knowledge; and we shall now shew, that it is equally
necessary in the act of reading.

Many persons must have witnessed children reading distinctly, and
fluently perhaps, who yet were not made one whit wiser by what they
read. The act of reading was correctly performed, and yet there was no
accession to their knowledge. The cause of this is easily explained. The
_ideas_ conveyed by the words have not been reiterated by the
mind,--perhaps they were never perceived. For as long as the act of
reading is difficult, the words undergo this process first, and the
ideas must be gleaned afterwards. Hence it is, that children, when
hurried from lesson to lesson before they can read them so easily as to
perceive and reiterate the ideas while reading, acquire the habit of
decyphering the words alone, and the eye from practice reads
mechanically, while the mind at the moment is usually wandering, or is
engaged in attending to something else. Nature, as we have before shewed
in the act of hearing, does not intend that the mind should pay
attention both to the words and the ideas at the same time; and reading
being only an artificial substitute for hearing, is made subject to the
same law. It is the _ideas_ that Nature induces us to grapple with; and
the reading of words like the hearing of language, is merely the means
employed to get at them. Hence the necessity of children being taught to
read fluently, and with perfect ease, before they leave the school; and
the neglect of this is the reason why so many after leaving school,
derive so little instruction from the use of books. Of these
individuals, experience shews, that many, who on leaving school could
not collect ideas by their mode of mechanical reading, yet persevere,
and at last teach themselves by long practice to understand what they
read; while there are not a few who, in similar circumstances, become
discouraged, abandon the practice of reading, and soon forget the art

Of the correctness of these facts, every one may be convinced, by
recollecting what must often have taken place with himself. When at any
time the mind is exhausted while reading, we continue to read on, page
after page, and when we have finished, we find, that not a single truth
has made its way to the memory. Now this did not arise from any
difficulty in comprehending the ideas in the book, because it does not
make much difference whether the subject has been simple or otherwise;
neither did it arise from the want of all mental activity, for the mind
was so much engaged as to read every word and every letter in the pages
upon which we were occupied. But it arose entirely from the want of that
principle of which we are here speaking. The words were read
mechanically, and the ideas were either not thought of, or at least they
were not reiterated by the mind, and therefore it is that they are
lost,--and no effort can ever again recall them. The proof of the
accuracy of these views will still be found in the circumstance, that
if, while the person is reading, this act of the reiteration of some one
or more of the ideas be in any way forced upon him, _these_ ideas thus
reiterated will afterwards be remembered, although all the others are

Here then we have arrived at a principle connected with the acquisition
of knowledge, by attending to which education may be made most efficient
for that purpose; but without which, education must remain a mere
mechanical routine of barren exercises. No idea, no truth, we have seen,
can ever form part of our knowledge, till it has undergone this
particular mental process, which we have called "reiteration." If the
idea, or truth, intended to be communicated, be reiterated by the
mind,--thought over again,--it will then be remembered:--but if it be
not reiterated by the mind, it never can. It is also worthy of remark,
that the tenacity with which the memory keeps hold of any idea or truth,
depends greatly upon the vigour of the mind at the time, and still more
perhaps upon the frequency of its reiteration. If a child, however
languid, is forced to this act of reiteration of an idea but once, it
will be remembered for a longer or a shorter time; but if his mind be
vigorous and lively, and more especially if he can be made _repeatedly_
to reiterate the same idea in his mind at intervals, he will on that
account, retain it much more tenaciously, and will have it at the
command of the will more readily. Hence the vividness with which the
scenes and the circumstances of youth arise upon the mind, and the
tenacity with which the memory holds them. These scenes were of daily
occurrence; and the small number of remarkable circumstances connected
with childhood and youth having few rivals to compete with them in
attracting the attention, were witnessed frequently with all the vigour
and liveliness of the youthful mind, as yet unburdened with care. They
were of course frequently subjected to observation, and as frequently
reiterated by the mind, and have on these accounts ever since been
vividly pictured by the imagination, and continue familiar to the
memory. It also accounts for another circumstance of common occurrence.
For when, even in early infancy, any event happened which made a deeper
impression upon the mind than usual, that simple circumstance will
generally outlive all its neighbours, and will take precedence in point
of distinct recollection to the close of life. The reason of this is,
not only the deep impression it made upon the mind at the moment, but
principally because it had so strongly excited the feelings, that it was
oftener thought of then and afterwards;--in other words, this act of
reiteration occurred more frequently with respect to it than the
others, and therefore it is now better remembered.

This is a principle then of which the Educationist should take
advantage. For if Nature invariably communicates knowledge by inducing
her pupils to exercise their own minds on the subject taught, it is
plain that the teacher should follow the same plan. His pupils cannot
remain mentally inactive, and yet learn; neither can the mere routine of
verbal exercises either cultivate the mind or increase knowledge. These
are but the husks of education, which may tantalize and weaken, but
which can never satisfy the cravings of the young mind for information.
Their mental food must be of a perfectly different kind, consisting of
_ideas_, and not of _words_; and these ideas they must receive and
concoct by the active use of their own powers. The teacher must no doubt
select the food for his pupils, and prepare it for their reception, by
breaking it down into morsels, suited to their capacities. But this is
all. They must eat and digest it for themselves. The pupil must think
over in his own mind, and for himself, all that he is either to know or
remember. The ideas read or heard must be reiterated by
himself,--thought over again,--if he is ever to profit by them. Without
this, no care or pains on the part of the teacher, no exertion on the
part of the pupil, will be of any avail. All the knowledge that he seems
to acquire in any other way is repudiated by Nature; and however
plausible the exercise may appear, it will ultimately be found fruitless
and vain.


[3] Note B.

[4] Note C.

[5] Note D.


_On the Acquisition of Knowledge by the Principle of Individuation._

Nature, as we have seen, has rendered it imperative that the act of
reiteration should be performed upon every idea before it can have an
entrance into the mind, or be retained by the memory; but as the
individual cannot reiterate, or think over, all the ideas suggested to
him by the innumerable objects of sensation with which he is surrounded,
it next becomes a matter of importance to ascertain the means employed
by Nature for enabling her pupils to receive and retain the greatest
number of ideas, so that they shall ever afterwards remain at the
command of the will. This she accomplishes by the operation of the three
other principles to which we have adverted; namely, "Individuation," or
"Abstraction," "Grouping," or "Association," and "Classification," or
"Analysis."--We shall in this chapter attend to the principle of
"Individuation," and endeavour to trace its nature and uses in the
acquisition of knowledge by the young.

The first thing in an infant that will be remarked by a close observer
of Nature is, that while adding to its knowledge by observation, it
always confines its attention to one thing at a time, till it has
examined it. Before the period when this principle becomes conspicuous
in an infant, the eye, and the other senses are in a great measure
inactive, so far as the mind is concerned; and the first indication of
the senses really ministering to the mind is the eye chusing an object,
and the infant examining that object by itself, without allowing its
attention to be distracted by any thing else.

This operation takes place as soon as an infant is capable of
observation. It fixes its eye upon an object, generally one that is new
to it, and it continues to look upon it till it has collected all the
information that this object can give, or which the limited capacity of
the infant will enable it to receive. Hence with stationary objects this
information is soon acquired; but with moveable objects, or toys, or
things which are capable of varying, or multiplying the ideas received
by the child, the look is more intense, and the attention is sustained
without fatigue for a longer time. Till this information has been
received, the child continues to look on; and if the object be removed,
the eye still follows it with interest, and gives it up at last with
reluctance. That by this concentration of its mind upon one object, the
infant is adding to its knowledge, appears evident from the fact, that
objects which have already communicated their stock of information, and
have become familiar, are less heeded than those that are new or
uncommon. Every new thing excites the curiosity of the child, who is not
content till that curiosity be gratified. This has been called "the love
of novelty;"--but it is not the love of novelty in the very questionable
sense in which many understand that term. On the contrary, it is
obviously a wise provision of Nature, suited to the capacity and
circumstances of children, which is to be taken advantage of, for
conveying such crumbs and morsels of knowledge as their limited powers
are able to receive; and which should never be abused, by presenting to
them an unceasing whirl of names and objects,--a process which fatigues
the mind, and leaves them without any specific information. It is the
same principle, and is to be considered in the same light, as that which
induces the philosopher to confine himself to the investigation of one
phenomenon till he understands it. The information which the child is
capable of receiving from each of the impressions then made is no doubt
small; but it is still information--knowledge.--This is what he is
seeking; and, at this stage of his progress, it is only acquired by the
concentration of the powers of the mind upon one thing at a time.

The effect of this principle in the infant is worthy of remark.--While
the pupil remains under the teaching of Nature, there is no
confusion,--no hurry,--no failure. The tasks which she prescribes for
him are never oppressive, and are constantly performed with ease and
with pleasure.--Although there be no selection made by the parent or
teacher for the child to exercise his faculties upon, yet he
instinctively selects for himself, without hesitation, and without
mistake. All the objects in a room or in a landscape are before him: yet
he is never oppressed by their number, nor bewildered by their
variety.--His mind is always at ease.--He chooses for himself; but he
never selects more for his special observation at one time than he can
conveniently attend to. When the objects are new, his attention is
restricted to one till it be known; and then, but not till then, as we
shall immediately see, he is able, and delights to employ himself in
grouping it with others.

In early infancy this attention to one object is protracted and slow,
till he gradually acquires sufficient energy of mind by practice.--Every
one must have observed how slowly the eye of an infant of two or three
months old moves after an object, in comparison with one of ten.--But
even in the latter case, when the glance is lively and rapid, the same
principle of individuation continues to operate. The information from an
unknown object must still be received alone, and without distraction,
although by that time the child is capable of receiving it more quickly.
He is not now satisfied with viewing an object on one side, but he must
view it on all sides. He endeavours by various means to acquire every
one of the ideas which it is capable of communicating. His new toy is
viewed with delight and wonder; and his eye by exercise can now scan in
a moment its different parts.--But this is not enough; he has now
learned to make use of his other senses, and he employs them also, for
the purpose of becoming better acquainted with the object which he is
contemplating. His toy is seized, mouthed, handled, turned, looked at on
all sides, till all the information it can communicate has been
received;--and then only is it cast aside for something else, which is
in its turn to add to his stock of knowledge.

The circumstance to which we would especially call attention at present
is, the singleness of thought exercised upon the object, during the time
that the child is amused by it.--He attends to nothing else, and he will
look at nothing else; and were his attention forced from it for a
moment, this is evidently done unwillingly; and, when allowed, it
immediately returns to the object. It is also worthy of notice, that if,
while he is so engaged, we attempt to teach him something else, or in
other words, to induce him to divide his attention upon some other new
object, the distraction of his mind is at once apparent; we perceive
that it is unnatural; and we find by experience that he does not profit
by either. Now, from these indications it must be evident, that any
interference with this principle of individuation in teaching any thing
for the first time, must always be hurtful:--on the contrary, by
attending to the principle, and acting upon it in the training of the
young, it must be productive of the happiest effects.--While acted upon,
under the guidance of Nature, its efficiency and power are astonishing.
It is by means of this principle, that the infant mind, with all its
imbecility and want of developement, acquires and retains more real
knowledge in the course of a few months, than is sometimes received at
school afterwards during as many years.--Few things are more cheering in
prospect than the knowledge of this fact; for what may we not expect
from the _man_, when his education while a _child_ shall have been
improved, and approximated to that of Nature!

The operation of the principle of individuation, is not confined to the
infant, but continues to maintain its place during all the after stages
of life, whenever any thing new and uncommon is presented as an object
of knowledge. Every thing is new to the infant, and therefore this
principle is more conspicuous during the early stages of education.--But
it is still equally necessary for the child or the youth in similar
circumstances; and Nature compels him, as it were, still to concentrate
the powers of his mind upon every new object, till he has received and
become familiar with the information it is calculated to furnish.--Every
one must have observed the intensity with which a child examines an
object which he has never seen before, and the anxiety which he evinces
to know all about it.--It requires a considerable effort on his own
part, and still greater on the part of others, to detach his mind from
the object, till it has surrendered the full amount of information which
the young enquirer is seeking. The boy with his new drum will attend to
nothing else if he can help it, as long as he has any thing to learn
concerning it, and the noises it is capable of producing.--And even when
he has tired himself with beating it, he is not satisfied till he has
explored its contents, to find out the cause which has created the
sounds. The girl with her doll, in the same way, will voluntarily think
of nothing else, as long as it can provide her with mental exercise;
that is, as long as it can add something new to her present stock of
knowledge. And it is here worthy of remark, that the apparent exception
in this case, arising from the greater length of time that a doll and a
few other similar toys will amuse a child, is in reality a striking
confirmation, and illustration of the principle of which we are
speaking.--Such toys amuse longer, because it is longer before the
variety of which they are capable is exhausted.--The doll is fondled,
and scolded, and cradled, and dressed, and undressed in so many
different ways, that the craving for new ideas continues for a long
period to be amply gratified;--but the effect would be quite different,
were the very same doll placed where it could only be looked at. Every
new movement with the toy is employed by Nature, for the cultivation of
the mental powers, by reiterating the ideas thus imparted, and on which
the imagination delights to dwell; and also in receiving a knowledge of
individual objects and ideas, which, when once known, are to form the
elements of future groupings, and of an endless variety of information.

It is here of importance to recollect, that almost all the information
received by children, is of a sensible kind. They can form little or no
idea of abstract truths. The mind and the memory must be stored with
sensible objects,--first individually, and then by grouping,--before the
child can arrive at a capacity for abstraction. Nature's first object,
therefore, is to store the memory and imagination of the young with the
names and images of things, which, as we have seen, are acquired
individually, and, when once known, are remembered for future use. But
those things which they have not yet seen, or felt, or heard, or tasted,
are totally beyond their conception, and cannot be of any service,
either in grouping, or classification.--Hence the great importance of
allowing the young mind to act freely in acquiring new ideas by this
principle of individuation; as without this, all the lessons into which
such ideas shall afterward be introduced, must be in a great measure
lost. Even adults can form no idea of an unknown object, except by
compounding it of something that they already know. And this is at least
equally the case with children; who, till they can group and compare
objects which they have seen, can realize no idea of any thing, however
simple, that has not previously been subjected to the senses.--Hence,
therefore, the importance at this period of a child's education, of
confining the attention chiefly to sensible objects, and of not
confounding his faculties, by too early an introduction of abstract

Here then we have been able to detect the method by which Nature
selects, and enables her pupils to prepare the materials of which their
future knowledge is to be compounded. These materials are the ideas of
sensible objects, and their properties and uses; which must be gathered
and stored one by one. By inducing them to attempt to seize even two at
a time, they will most probably lose both, and their powers of
collecting and storing will, by the same attempt, be injured and
weakened. It is by means of this principle of individuation, that, with
the most intense craving for information, and while placed among
innumerable objects calculated to gratify it, the infant and the child
remain perfectly collected, without the slightest appearance of
distraction of mind, or confusion of ideas. With his thirst of knowledge
ardent and constant, it enables him with the greatest delight to add
hourly to his stores of knowledge, without difficulty, without
irritation, and without fatigue.

The application of these truths to the business of education, we shall
attend to in its proper place; in the meantime we may remark, of how
much importance it is, that all knowledge communicated to the young be
simple, and that for some time it consist chiefly of sensible objects,
and their qualities;--objects which they either know, or can have access
to. Abstract subjects are not suited for children, till they can group,
and classify, and compare the sensible objects with which they are
already acquainted. The aim of the teacher, therefore, ought to be,
strictly to follow Nature in this early stage of her operations, and to
furnish food for his pupils, of the proper kind, and in proper
proportions;--keeping the thinking powers constantly in healthful
exercise, by giving as many ideas as the mind can reiterate without
fatigue; but carefully avoiding all hurry or force, seeing that the
powers of the mind are greatly weakened and injured by a multiplicity of
objects, particularly when they are presented so rapidly, that the
thoughts have not time to settle upon them, nor the mind to reiterate
the ideas which they suggest.


_On the Application of Knowledge by the Principle of Association, or

Another principle which exhibits itself in the acquisition of knowledge
by Nature's pupils, is that of "grouping," or associating objects
together, after they are individually known. A child, or even an infant,
who is frightened, or alarmed, or who suffers any severe injury,
remembers the several circumstances, and has the place, the persons, and
the things connected with the event, all associated together, and
grouped into one scene or picture on the memory. These objects may have
been numerous; but by the operation of this principle, they have all
been apprehended, and united so powerfully with each other, that no
future effort of the child can either separate or obliterate any portion
of them; and so comprehensive, that the recollection of any one of the
circumstances instantly recalls all the others.

These groupings in the mind of a child, formed chiefly by means of the
imagination, are almost wholly compounded of sensible objects; and the
only necessary prerequisite for their formation appears to be a
knowledge of the individual elements of which they are to be composed.
If an unknown object be presented to the mind in connection with the
others that are known, it is generally excluded, and the things
previously known retained. For example, in the case supposed above, of
an accident occurring to a child, there would be thousands of objects
present, and all cognisable by the senses; but not one of all these that
were unknown, that is, that had not previously undergone the process of
individuation, is found to form part of the remembered group.

There is another circumstance connected with the operation of this
principle in the young, which is of importance. Almost the whole of a
child's knowledge is composed of these groupings. Before the
developement of the reasoning powers, by which the individual is enabled
to _classify_ the elements of his knowledge, there is no way of
remembering these elements in connection with each other, except by this
principle. If, therefore, we change the order or relative position of
the elements or objects which compose the scene, or group, we draw the
attention of the pupil altogether from the former, and create another
which is entirely new;--in the same way as the transposition of the
figures in any sum, forms another of an entirely different amount. The
drawing-room, for example, is seen by the children of the family with
the fire-place, the cabinet, the sofas, the tables, and other stationary
ornaments, in certain relative positions, and this grouping of those
objects is to them in reality all that they know of the room. Any
material change in shifting these objects to other places in the
apartment, would, to the _parent_, whose judgment is ripened, produce
feelings comparatively slight; but, to the younger branches of the
family who group, but cannot as yet classify, it would appear like the
complete annihilation of the former apartment. The different arrangement
of a few of the articles only, would to them create another, and an
entirely different room.

This leads us to observe another circumstance connected with the
operation of this principle, in the instruction of the young, which is
the remarkable fact, that, by making the child familiar with a very few
primitive elements, a parent or teacher may communicate an almost
infinite variety of groupings, or stories, for cultivating the mind, and
increasing the knowledge of his pupil. Hence it is, that hundreds of
agreeable and useful little histories have been composed for children,
with no other machinery than a mamma and her child, and the occasional
introduction of a doll or a dog, a cat or a canary bird. To the child,
there is in these numerous groupings no appearance of sameness, nor want
of variety; and although so much circumscribed in their original
elements, they never fail to amuse and delight.

The most important circumstance, however, connected with the working of
this principle in the education of the young, appears to be the
necessity of a previous familiarity with the individual objects, before
the child is called upon to group them. If this has been attended to,
the grouping of these into any combination will be easy and
pleasant;--but if his attention be called from the group, to examine
exclusively even but one of its elements, the operation is checked, the
mind becomes confused, its powers are weakened, and the grouping has
again to commence under serious disadvantages.

To illustrate this point, let us suppose a child introduced to the
bustle and sports of a common fair. Here he sees thousands both of
familiar and strange objects, all of which are calculated to excite his
mind to increased attention; and yet the child, while greatly amused, is
still perfectly at his ease. There is not the slightest indication of
his being incommoded by the numerous objects about him; no confusion of
ideas, no distraction of mind, no mental distress of any kind; but, on
the contrary, in the midst of so much to see and to learn, the young
looker-on is not only at his ease, but appears to be delighted. The
reason of this is, that he is not by any external force compelled to
attend to _all_ that he sees; and Nature within directs him to attend to
no more than he is able to group, or reiterate in his thoughts. We shall
endeavour to examine this condition of the child's mind in such
circumstances a little more particularly.

The child in the circumstances supposed, must either be a spectator in
general, or an examiner in particular; in other words, he must either
employ himself with the principle of combination or grouping, or with
the principle of individuation,--but he never attempts to employ himself
with both at the same time. If he amuses himself as an observer in
general, he is engaged in grouping objects which are already familiar to
him; but while he is so engaged, he never directs his attention to any
one unknown object for the purpose of examining it for the first time by
itself. He passes over all the minute and unknown objects with a glance,
and attends only to the grouping or associating of those which are
already familiar. Nature induces him, while thus employed, to pass by
all these minute and unknown objects; because, if he were to do
otherwise, his observation in general would instantly be recalled, and
his whole attention would be monopolized by the object which he had
resolved to examine, to the exclusion of every other for the time. This,
however, is not what he seeks; and he employs himself entirely in the
grouping of things which are already known. His mind is left at ease,
and in the possession of all its powers; he looks only at those things
which please him; and he passes over all the others without effort or

But if the boy shall come to something strange and new, which he is
desirous of studying more closely, he immediately becomes an examiner in
particular; but, at the same moment, he ceases to be an observer in
general. The extended business of the fair, and the several groupings of
which it is composed, are lost sight of for the moment;--the principle
of individuation begins to act, and the operation of the principle of
association, or grouping, is at the same moment brought to a stand. The
two are incompatible, and cannot act together; and therefore Nature
never allows the one to interfere with the other.

To shew the evil effects of overlooking this important law of Nature in
the education of a child, we have only to attend to the painful results
which would be the consequence of acting contrary to it, even in the
vigorous mind of an adult. Let us for this purpose suppose a person of a
powerful understanding, and a capacious mind, ushered for the first
time, and for only five minutes into a crowded apartment in some eastern
caravansary, or eastern bazaar, in which every thing to him was new and
strange; and let us also suppose that it was imperatively demanded of
him, that he should, in that short space of time, make himself
acquainted with all that was going on, and be able, on his retiring,
minutely to describe all that he saw. The first moment he entered, and
the first strange object that caught his eye, would convince him that
_the thing was impossible_. If, without such a demand, he had been
introduced into such a place, and had seen various groups of strange
persons differently employed, each engaged in a manner altogether new to
him, and the nature of which was wholly unknown, he might look on with
perfect composure, and considerable amusement, because he could attend,
like the boy in the fair, either to the general mass, to isolated
groups, or to individual things. He would in that case attend to no more
than he was able to understand; and would placidly allow the other parts
of the scene to pass without any particular attention. But the
imperative injunction here supposed,--this pressure from without,--this
artificial and unnatural demand upon him,--entirely alters the case. If
he even attempted to make himself master of all the particulars of the
scene in a circumscribed portion of time, he would find himself
bewildered and confounded. The very attempt to individualize and to
group so many various objects at the same moment, within such a limited
period, would be enough to prostrate all the powers of his mind. He
might perhaps be able to observe the persons and their costume, because
varieties of persons and dresses are daily and constantly objects of
observation, and are grouped without difficulty; but of their several
employments, of which he was previously ignorant, he could know nothing,
and on retiring, he would neither be able to remember nor to describe
them. In such an experiment, it would be found, that the more anxious he
was to perfect his task and to answer the demand, in the same proportion
would he find himself harassed and distressed, and the powers of his
mind overstretched and weakened. And if this would be the result of
confounding the principles of individuation and grouping in an
adult,--a person of good understanding, and of vigorous mind,--how much
more hurtful must such a task be, when demanded from children or youths
of ordinary capacity, during their attendance at school!

Few we believe will doubt the general accuracy of the above results in
the cases supposed;--but some may perhaps question, whether they really
do arise from the interference of these two antagonist principles during
the experiment. To shew that this is the real cause of the distress
felt, and the weakness and prostration of mind produced during it, we
have only to institute another experiment which is exactly parallel. Let
us suppose the same person, and for the same limited period, ushered
into the traveller's room in a well frequented hotel, and let us also
suppose, that the very same demand is made imperative, that he shall
observe, and again detail when he retires, all that he sees. Let us also
suppose, that the number of persons here is equally great, and that
their employments are all equally diversified, but that each is familiar
to him; and we will at once see that the difficulty of the task is
really as nothing. A child could accomplish it. His eye would be able to
group the whole in an instant, without effort, and without fatigue. If
he saw one party at supper, another at tea, another group at cards, and
others amusing themselves at draughts and backgammon; one minute instead
of five, would be quite enough to make him master of the whole. On
retiring, he would be able to tell the employment of every group in the
room; and if any of his acquaintances had made part of the number, he
would be able to tell who they were, where they were sitting, and how
they were occupied. In doing all this he would find no difficulty; and
yet the knowledge he has received is entirely new, and so extensive,
that it would take at least ten fold more time to rehearse it, than it
took to acquire it. The entire scene also would be permanently imprinted
by the imagination upon the memory; and the whole, or any part of it,
could be recalled, and reviewed, and rehearsed, at any future period.
Here then are two cases, precisely similar in their nature, and
undertaken by the very same person, where the results are widely
different; and we now see, that the difference arises entirely from the
principle of individuation having prepared the way in the one case,
while it was not allowed to operate in the other.

From these circumstances taken together, we perceive, that the grouping
of objects, when once they are individually familiar, is never a
difficult task, but is rather one of gratification and pleasure;--and we
also are taught, that the amount of knowledge thus pleasantly
communicated to a child may be most extensive and valuable, while the
materials necessary for the purpose, being comparatively few, may be
previously rendered familiar with very little exertion. It is the
confounding of these two principles in the communication of knowledge,
that makes learning appear so forbidding to the young, and prevents that
cultivation of the mental powers by their exercises which these would
otherwise infallibly produce. By keeping each in its proper place, a
child will soon acquire a thorough knowledge of the few elements
necessary for the purpose; and these, when acquired, may be grouped by
the teacher into thousands of forms, for extending the knowledge, and
for invigorating the mind of his delighted pupil.

The benevolence and wisdom of this beautiful arrangement in the
educational process of Nature, are truly wonderful; and in proportion as
it is so, every deviation from it on our parts will be attended with
disappointment and evil. If all our ideas were to be acquired and
retained by the principle of individuation alone, the memory being
without help or resting place, would soon become so overpowered by their
number, that our knowledge would be greatly circumscribed, and its use
impeded. Of the benefits arising from attention to the principle we
have many apt illustrations in ordinary life, among which the various
groupings of the ten numeral figures into sums of any amount, and the
forming of so many thousands of words by a different arrangement of the
letters of the alphabet, are familiar examples. When a child knows the
ten numerals, he requires no more teaching to ascertain the precise
amount of any one number among all the millions which these figures can
represent. The value of such an acquirement can only be appreciated by
considering the labour it would cost a child to gain a knowledge of all
these sums individually, and the overwhelming burden laid upon his
memory if each of the millions of sums had to be remembered by a
separate character. By the knowledge and various groupings of only ten
such characters, the whole of this mighty burden is removed.

In the art of writing, the same principle is brought into operation with
complete success, by the combination, or various groupings of the
twenty-six letters of the common Roman alphabet in the formation of
words. The value of this adaptation of the principle will be obvious, if
we shall suppose, that a person who is acquainted with all the modern
European languages, had been compelled to discriminate, and continue to
remember, a distinct arbitrary mark or character for the many thousands
of words contained in each. We may not be warranted, perhaps, to say
that such a task would be impossible; but that it would be inconceivably
burdensome can admit of no doubt. We have, indeed, in the writings of
the Chinese, although it is but one language, a living monument of the
evil effects of the neglect of this principle in literature, and the
unceasing inconveniences which daily arise from that empire continuing
to persevere in it. There is comparatively but little combination of
characters in their words, and the consequences are remarkable. In that
extensive empire, the highest rewards, and the chief posts of honour
and emolument, are held out to those who are most learned, whatever be
their rank or their station; and yet, amidst a population immersed in
poverty and wretchedness, not one person in a thousand can master even
one of their books; and not one in ten thousand of those who profess to
read, is able to peruse them all. The reason of this simply is, the
neglect of this natural principle of grouping letters, or the signs of
sounds, in their written language. With us, the elements of all the
words in all the European languages are only twenty-six; and the child
who has once mastered the combination of these, in any one of our books,
has the whole of our literature at his command.

The application of this principle to the elements of general knowledge
is equally necessary, as its application to written language. The
difficulty of remembering the many thousands of unconnected characters
in Chinese literature, is an exact emblem of what will always be the
case with children in respect to their general knowledge, when this
principle of association, or grouping, is neglected. Adults acquire and
retain a large portion of _their_ knowledge, as we shall afterwards see,
by the principle of classification and analysis; but _children_ are not
as yet capable of this; and they must receive their knowledge by the
grouping of a few simple elements previously known, or they will not be
able to receive and retain knowledge at all. The amount of this
knowledge also, it should be kept in mind, is not at all in proportion
to the number or the variety of the elements of which that knowledge is
composed. We have formerly alluded to this, and it may be farther
illustrated by a circumstance of daily occurrence. A seaman when he
observes a vessel at a distance knows her class and character in an
instant, whether she be a sloop or a brig, a schooner or a ship, and he
forms an instantaneous idea of all her parts grouped into a whole. His
memory, instead of being harassed in remembering the shape, and place,
and position of each of its several parts, is relieved of the whole by
the operation of this principle of association. The whole rigging, about
which his mind is occupied, is composed of only _three_ elements,--ropes,
and spars, and sails,--with each of which he has long ago made himself
familiar. All the remaining parts of this kind of knowledge are a mere
matter of grouping. By previously observing the varied arrangement of the
spars, and ropes, and sails, on the several masts of the different kinds
of vessels, he has already grouped them into one whole, and each is
remembered by itself without effort, and without mistake. They are
retained, as it were, painted by the imagination upon the memory, and may
at any after period be recalled and reviewed at pleasure. Hence the sight
of a vessel in the distance calls up the former pictures to the mind, and
enables the practised eye of the mariner to decide at once as to the kind
and character of what he so imperfectly sees.--This helps also to explain
the reason why children are so gratified with pictures when presented to
the eye; and why they are best pleased when the figures are most simple
and distinct, and particularly, when the objects grouped in the picture
have previously been familiar. Pictures are indeed a pretty close
imitation of Nature in this part of her work; and they are defective
chiefly on account of their want of _motion_ and _continuity_.
These last are two great and inimitable characteristics in all the
groupings painted upon the memory by the imagination.

From all this it is obvious, that there is an essential difference
between a child's acquiring the knowledge of things individually, and
acquiring a knowledge of their several associations. The two must never,
if possible, be confounded with each other. When they are kept distinct
in the education of a child, he has an evident pleasure in attending to
either; but as soon as they are allowed to interfere, and more
especially when they are systematically blended together in the same
exercise, he experiences confusion, irritation, and fatigue. There is no
necessity, however, for this ever being the case. All that is required
is, that the few individual elements that are to be grouped or
associated in a lesson, whether they be objects or ideas, shall
previously be made familiar to the pupil. These, when once known, may be
brought before the mind of the child in any variety of order or form,
and will be received readily and pleasantly, and will be retained by the
memory without confusion, and without effort. By attention to these two
principles, keeping each in its proper place, and bringing each to aid
and uphold the other in its proper order, it will be found, that a child
may be taught more real knowledge in one week, than is often
communicated in other circumstances in the course of a year.


_On the Acquisition of Knowledge by the Principle of Analysis, or

There is yet another principle brought into operation by Nature to
enable her pupils to receive, to retain, and to make use of their
knowledge. This is the principle of Classification, or Analysis.[6] The
difference between this and the former principle described we think is
sufficiently marked. The principle of Association, or Grouping, is
carried on chiefly by means of the imagination, and begins to operate as
soon as the mind is capable of imagining any thing; but the principle of
Classification, or Analysis, is more intimately connected with the
judgment. The consequence of this is, that it is but very partially
called into action during the early stages of a child's education, and
is never able to operate with vigour, till the reasoning powers of the
pupil begin to develope themselves.

The characteristic differences between the two principles, and their
respective uses in education, may be illustrated by a circumstance of
every-day occurrence. For example, a child who from infancy has been
brought up in a house of several apartments, gets acquainted with each
of the rooms by means of its contents. He has been in the habit of
seeing the heavy pieces of furniture in each apartment in a certain
place and order, and the room and its furniture, therefore, are
identified together, and remain painted upon his imagination exactly as
he has been in the habit of seeing them. In this case, the articles of
furniture in the room are grouped, and not classified; and are
remembered together, not on account of their nature and uses, but purely
on account of their position, and their relative arrangement in the
room. Most of our readers perhaps, will remember the strange feelings
produced in their minds during some period of their childhood, when in
the house of their infancy, some material alteration of this kind was
effected in one or more of the rooms. A change in the position of a bed,
or the abstraction or introduction of a chest of drawers, a wardrobe, or
other bulky piece of furniture, causes in the mind of the child an
effect much deeper, and more extensive, than in the adult. The former
picture of the place never having been observed or contemplated in any
other aspect, is painted by the imagination, and fixed upon his memory,
by long continued familiarity. But by this change it is suddenly
defaced; and the new group, partaking as it will do of some of the
elements of the old, produces feelings which are strange and
unaccountable, and entirely different from those of his parents, who
have been in the habit of contemplating the room and its furniture more
by the exercise of the judgment, than of the imagination; that is, more
by their uses, than by their appearance.

The cause of this strangeness of feeling in a child, arises from the
predominance of the principle of grouping, over that of classification.
He has as yet no knowledge of any of the apartments in the house, except
what he has received by grouping their contents. When, therefore, their
arrangement is materially altered, the reasoning powers not being as yet
able to soften down the effect, the former apartment appears to the
child as if it had ceased to exist. He can scarcely believe it to be the
same. He never thinks of the _uses_ of the articles in the apartment,
but only of their _appearance_;--the first being an act of the
judgment,--the latter of the imagination. In a similar manner he thinks
of the kitchen and its furniture, not as a part of the household
economy, but only in connection with the articles it contains. The
dresser, the jack, and the tin covers, are never thought of in
connection with their uses; but are identified with the kitchen, merely
because they have always been seen there, and seen together. In like
manner, the seats, the tables, and the ornaments of the drawing-room,
are not connected in the child's mind because they are what are commonly
called "drawing-room furniture," for that would imply a degree of
reasoning of which he is as yet unacquainted; but they are remembered
together, as they have always been observed in that particular place,
and are now pictured on the mind, in the position in which they are
usually beheld. Their particular locality in the room, and their
relative position with respect to each other, are of far more importance
in assisting the memory of the child, than any knowledge which he has as
yet acquired of their respective uses.

Though a child had in this way gained an exact knowledge of every
apartment in a house, it is obvious that there may not have been, during
the whole process, a single act of the understanding. Many of the lower
animals are capable of collecting all the knowledge he has received; and
even infants are, to a certain extent, in the daily habit of acquiring
it. But the classification of objects, according to their nature and
uses, is an operation of a perfectly different kind. Hence it is, that a
change in the arrangement of the furniture of a room acts so slightly on
the feelings of the adult, and so powerfully on the young. In the
former, the reasoning powers neutralize the effect produced; to the
latter, the change appears a complete revolution.

This principle of classification, though peculiar to the mature mind, is
not restricted to any particular class of men. It is found to be
universal, wherever the reasoning powers are capable of acting. It is no
doubt conspicuous in civilized societies, because there it is more
cultivated; but it is not confined to them. The savage is prompted to
its exercise under the tuition of Nature. For example, the various
articles and arts which he employs in hunting, are all regularly
classified in his mind, and retained upon his memory, as perfectly
distinct from those which he employs in fishing; and neither of these
classes of articles are ever confounded with his implements and weapons
of war. His hooks and lines, are as naturally classified in his mind
with his nets and his canoe, as his club or his tomahawk is with his
other weapons used in battle. It is by this means that Nature aids the
memory in the retention of knowledge, and keeps all the successive
accumulations of the individual at the command of the will. When
cultivated, as Nature designs that it should be, it forms an extensive
cabinet in the mind, where every department of knowledge has its
appropriate place; and which, when once systematically formed, can be
furnished at leisure. When a new idea is acquired, it is immediately put
in its place, and associated with others of the same kind; and when any
portion of the knowledge which we have accumulated is required, we know
at once the particular place where it is to be found.

The benefits of this principle in the above form are extensively felt
and acted upon in society, even where the principle itself is neither
observed nor known; for in the family, in the work shop, and in the
manufactory, it is of the last importance. It is upon this principle
that a clergyman, for the help of his own memory, as well as for
assisting the memory of his hearers, arranges the subject of his sermons
in a classified form;--his text is the root of the classification. This
he divides into heads, which form the first branch in this table; and
these again he sometimes sub-divides into particulars, which form a
second branch depending on the first, and all proceeding from the
root,--the original text. Similar, but more extensive, is the plan
adopted in the divisions and subdivisions of objects in the Sciences,
such as Botany, Zoology, Chemistry, &c. in all of which the existence of
this principle in Nature's educational process is acknowledged and
exemplified. In these sciences, the efficiency of the principle in
facilitating the reception of knowledge, and in assisting the memory in
retaining it, and in putting it to use, is universally acknowledged.

But there is another form in which the same principle appears, not so
obvious indeed, but it is one which is at least equally important in the
education of the young. Nature always brings it into operation when a
teacher, while communicating any series of _connected truths_, such as a
portion of history or of science, gives more of the details than the
mind of his pupil can receive, or his memory retain at one time. It may
be desirable that the pupil should be made thoroughly acquainted with
all the minute, as well as with the general circumstances of a history
or a science; but if so, it must be done, not at once, but by degrees,
or steps. It is usually done by repeating the course,--"revising," as it
is called,--and that perhaps more than once;--going over all the
exercises again and again, till the several parts are perceived and
remembered in their connection. In these "revisings," the mind forms an
analytical table of the subject for itself, consisting of successive
steps, formed by the successive courses. By the first course, or
hearing, it is chiefly the great outlines of the subject that are
perceived; and these form the first branch of a regular analytical
table, which every succeeding course of reading or hearing tends to fill
up. This will perhaps be best understood by an example.

Let us suppose that a young person sits down to read a history for the
first time, and that he reads it with attention and care. When we
examine the state of his mind after he has finished it, we find that,
independently of what, by the principle of grouping, he has got in the
form of episode, he has been able to retain only the great outlines of
the history, and no more. He remembers perhaps of whose reign he has
been reading, and the principal events that took place during it; but
the intermediate and minor events, as connected with the history, he has
not been able to remember. Nothing has been imparted by this first
reading, but the great landmarks of the narrative. These are destined to
form the first branch of a regular analytical table, of which the reign
of the particular monarch is the root. This is the frame-work of the
whole history of that period, however numerous the minor circumstances
may be; and a second reading will only enlarge his knowledge of the
circumstances under each of the heads. In other words, it will enable
him to sub-divide them into more minute details or periods, and thus
form a series of second branches from each. Now it is quite obvious,
that when this analysis of the circumstances of that period is once
formed in the mind, no new event connected with it can ever come to his
knowledge without being classed with some of the others. It will be
disposed of according to the relation which it bears to the parts
already existing; and thus the whole texture will be regularly framed,
and every event will have its proper place, and be readily available for
future use. One part may be filled up and finished before another; but
the regular proportions of the whole remain undisturbed. The pupil has,
by the original outline and its several branches, got a date and a place
for every new fact which he may afterwards glean, either in his reading
or his conversation; and he has a place in which to put it, where it can
easily be found. When placed there, it is safe in the keeping of the
memory, and will always afterwards be at the command of the will.

The connection of these circumstances, with the principle in education
which we are at present endeavouring to illustrate, may not to some be
very apparent. We shall therefore take another example from a
circumstance similar to what occurs every day in ordinary life, and in
which the principle, in the hands of Nature, is abundantly conspicuous.
In the example we are here to give, she forms the several steps of the
classification in a number of hearers by _once_ reading a subject, very
similar to what she does successively in the mind of one individual by
_repeated_ readings.

Let us then suppose a teacher with two or three hundred pupils,
including every degree of mental capacity, from the youngest child who
is able to understand, up to his own classical assistant; and that he
reads to them the history of Joseph as given in the Book of Genesis. Let
us also suppose, that they all give him their best attention, and that
they all hear the narrative for the first time. Such an experiment, let
it be observed, has its parallel every day, in the church, in the class
room, and in the seminary; and similar effects to those we are about to
describe invariably take place in each of them.

When the teacher has read and concluded this lengthened exercise, it
will be found, that no two individuals among his hearers have acquired
the same amount of knowledge. Some will have received and retained more
of the circumstances, and some less, but no two, strictly speaking, will
be alike. Those whose minds were incapable of connecting the several
parts of the narrative into a whole, will retain what they have received
in disjointed groups and patches,--episodes, as it were, in the
narrative,--without being able very clearly to perceive its general
design. This class, upon whom the principle of association chiefly has
been at work, we leave out, and confine ourselves to the state of
knowledge possessed by those who are in a greater or less degree capable
of classification, and of taking some cognisance of the narrative as a
connected whole.

Among this latter class, some will have retained no more than the bare
outline of the history, interspersed with groupings, as in the younger
children. They will remember little more than that Joseph was at first a
boy in his father's house;--that he was afterwards a slave, and in
prison;--and at last, a great man and a governor. Here the _whole
history_ is divided into three distinct heads, or eras,--the first
branch of an analytical table of the whole story, from one or other of
which all the other particulars, of whatever kind, must of necessity
take their rise, and branch off in their natural order. An advanced
class of the auditors will have retained some of the more obvious
circumstances connected with _each of these three great divisions_, as
well as the divisions themselves. They will not only remember that
Joseph was a boy in his father's house, but they will also be able to
remember the more prominent subdivisions of the narrative regarding him
while there; such as his father's partiality, his dreams, and his
brothers' hatred. The second great division will be recollected as
including the particulars of his being sold, his serving in Potiphar's
house, and his conduct in prison; and the third division will be
remembered as containing his appearance before Pharoah, his laying up
corn, his conduct to his brothers, and his reception of his father and
family. These subdivisions, it will at once be perceived, form the
_second branch_ of a regular analytical table, each of which has sprung
from, and is intimately connected with, some one or other of the three
great divisions forming the first branch, of which the "History of
Joseph" is the comprehensive root.

In like manner, a third class of the pupils, whose minds have been
better cultivated, and whose memories are more retentive, will not only
remember all this, but they will also remember, in connection with each
of these subdivisions, many of the more specific events included in, or
springing from them, and which carry forward this regular analytical
table one step farther. As for example, under the subdivision entitled
"Joseph's conduct to his brethren," they will remember the "detention of
Simeon,"--"the feast in the palace,"--"the scene of the cup in the
sack," and "Joseph's making himself known." Even these again might be
subdivided into their more minute circumstances, as a fourth, or even a
fifth branch, if necessary, all of which might be exactly delineated
upon paper, as a regular analytical table of the history of Joseph.

Here, then, we have an example of Nature herself dividing an audience
into different classes, and that by one and the same operation,--by one
reading,--forming in each class part of a regular analytical table of
the whole history, each class being one step in advance of the other.
The first has the foundation of the whole fabric broadly and solidly
laid; and it is worthy of remark, that there is not one of the ideas
acquired by the most talented of the hearers, that is not strictly and
regularly derived from some one or other of the three general divisions
possessed by the first and the least advanced; and any one of the ideas
may be regularly traced back through the several divisions to the root
itself. The additional facts possessed by the second class, are nothing
more than a more full developement of the circumstances remembered by
the first; and those obtained by the third, are but a more extensive
developement of the facts remembered by the second.

This being the state of the several classes into which Nature divides
every audience, it is of importance to trace the means which she employs
for the purpose of _advancing_ each, and of ultimately completing the
analysis; or, in other words, perfecting the knowledge of the narrative,
in each individual mind. This is equally beautiful, and equally simple.
It is, if we may be allowed the expression, by a regular system of
building. The foundation being laid, and the frame-work of the whole
being erected, in the knowledge of the great general outline, confusion
is ever after completely prevented. Every piece of information connected
with the history, which may be afterwards received, has a specific place
provided for it. It must belong to some one or other of the three great
divisions; and it is there inserted as a part of the general building.
It is now remembered in its connection, till all the circumstances,--the
whole of the information,--gradually, and perhaps distantly received,
complete the narrative.

To follow out this plan of Nature regularly, as in a school education,
the method must be exceedingly obvious; for if the first class, by once
hearing the chapters read, have received merely the outline,--the
frame-work of the narrative,--it must be obvious, that when this has by
reflection become familiar, a second reading would enable them to fill
up much of this outline, by which they would be on a par with the
second. Another reading would, in like manner, add to the second, and
form a third; and so forth of all the others. Each reading would add
more and more to the knowledge of the pupil; and yet, every idea
communicated would be nothing more than a fuller developement of the
original outline,--the frame-work,--the skeleton of the story which he
had acquired by the first reading. By successive readings, therefore,
the first class will take the place of the second, the second of the
third, and so on to the end. This is Nature's uniform method of
perfecting her pupils in any branch of _connected_ knowledge;--a method
which, therefore, it should be the object of the Educationist to
understand, and closely to imitate.

From the cases which we have in this chapter supposed as examples, there
are several important practical inferences to be derived, to which we
shall here very briefly advert.

In the first place, we are led to infer, from all the cases brought into
notice, that every kind of external force, or precipitation in
education, is abhorrent to Nature. In each of the cases supposed, we
have a remarkable exhibition of the calm serenity of Nature's operations
in the education of the young. For instance, in the last case supposed,
the children all listened,--they all heard the same words,--the mental
food was the same to each, however diversified their abilities might be;
and it was indiscriminately offered in the same form to all, although
all were not equally prepared to receive and digest it. The results
accordingly were, in fact, as various as the number of the persons
present. And yet, notwithstanding of all this, there was no hurry, no
confusion, no attempt to stretch the mind beyond its strength. Each
individual, according to his capacity, laid hold of as much as his mind
could receive, and silently abandoned the remainder.--But if there had
been any external urgency or force employed, to compel the child to
accomplish more than his mind was capable of, this serenity and
composure would have been destroyed; irritation, and confusion, and
mental weakness, would have been the consequence; and altogether,
matters would not have been made better, but worse, by the attempt.

Another inference, which we think may legitimately be drawn from the
above examples, is this, that although Nature prompts the child silently
to throw off or reject that which the mind at the time cannot receive,
yet it would be better for the child if no more had been pressed upon
him than he was capable of receiving. The very rejection of any portion
of the mental food presented for acceptance, must in some measure tend
to dissipate the mind, and exhaust its strength. This we think is
demonstrated by the fact, that the child had to listen for _an hour_,
and yet retained on his memory no more than experience shews us could
have been much more successfully communicated in _five minutes_.

This leads us to another remark, almost equally important; which is,
that the want of classification among the children, will not only hurt
them, but tend to waste the time, and unnecessarily to exhaust the
strength of the teacher. The teacher's success with any one child, is
not to be estimated by the pains he takes, or the extent of his labour,
but by the amount of knowledge actually retained by the child. To employ
an hour's labour, therefore, to communicate that knowledge which could
with much better effect be given in five minutes, is both unreasonable
and improper; and every one who will for a moment think on the subject
must see, that a lesson, which in that short space of time conveyed the
whole of the knowledge that the pupils had been able to pick up during
the hour's exercise, would leave the teacher eleven-twelfths of his time
to benefit the other classes. The nurseryman follows this plan with his
trees, and with evident success, both in saving time, and room, and
labour. When he sows his acorns, one square yard will contain more
plants than will ultimately occupy an acre. It is only as they increase
in growth, that they are thinned out and transplanted; and such should
be the case in communicating knowledge to children. To attempt to teach
the whole history at once, is like sowing the whole acre with acorns,
and thinning them out during a quarter of a century. The loss of seed in
this case is the least of the evils; for the ground would be robbed of
its strength, nine-tenths of it would be rendered unnecessarily useless
during a large portion of the time; and much of the anxiety, and care,
and labour of the nurseryman would be thrown away. Ultimately he would
find, that of the many thousands of oaks he had sowed, he had been able
to rear no more _than the acre could carry_. By following out this
principle in education, and giving the child as much as he can receive,
and no more, of the whole series of truths to be communicated, his mind,
at the close of the exercise, will be much more vigorous, the ideas
received will be much better understood, more firmly rivetted upon the
memory, and much more at the command of the will, while the quantity of
knowledge really communicated, is at least equal in amount.--The only
thing indeed that renders a contrary plan of procedure even tolerable to
a child, is the wise provision of Nature, by which she induces him to
throw off, with some degree of ease, the superfluous matter; but had the
reception and retention of the whole by each child been demanded by the
teacher, the very attempt to do so on the part of the pupil, would not
only have been irritating and burdensome, but it would have been
extremely hurtful to the mind, by stretching its powers beyond its


[6] Note E.


_On Nature's Methods of Teaching her Pupils to make use of their

We come now to another operation of Nature with the young, to which she
appears to attach more importance than she does to any of her previous
educational processes, and to which she obviously intends that a more
than ordinary attention should be paid on our parts. This is the
training of her pupils to make use of their knowledge, and to apply the
information they possess to guide them in the common affairs of life.
This is obviously the great end which she has all along had in view; and
to which the cultivation of the mind, and the acquisition of knowledge
are merely preparatives. We shall first direct attention to a few of the
indications of this principle as they actually appear in ordinary life;
and then we shall endeavour to point out some of the laws by which she
appears to regulate them.

In the early periods of infancy we can plainly distinguish between
certain actions which depend upon _instinct_, and which are performed by
the infant perfectly and at once, without experience, and without
teaching;--and others of which the infant at first appears to be
incapable, but which it gradually _acquires_ by experience, or more
correctly, which it _learns_ by an application of the knowledge which it
is daily realizing. Among the former, or instinctive class, we may rank
the acts of sucking, swallowing, and crying, which are purely acts of
instinct; while among the numerous class belonging to the latter, we
include all those actions which are progressively improved, and which
are really the result of experience, derived from the application of
their acquired knowledge. As an example of these, we may instance the
acts of winking with the eyelids on the approach of an object to the
eye; the avoiding of a blow; the rejection of what is bitter or
unpalatable; the efforts made to possess that which has been found
pleasant; and the shunning of those acts for which it has been reproved
or punished. All these, and thousands of similar acts, are really the
result of a _direct application of previous knowledge_, and which,
without the possession of that knowledge, never are, nor could be

Mankind in infancy being, in the intention of Nature, placed under the
care of tender and intelligent parents are not provided with many
instinctive faculties. Their physical welfare is at first left
altogether to the care of the nurse; but, from a very early period of
consciousness, they intellectually become the pupils of Nature. Almost
all their actions are the results of experience;--of knowledge acquired,
and knowledge applied. Their attainments at the beginning are no doubt
few;--but, from the first, they are well marked, and go on with
increasing rapidity. The acquisition of knowledge by them, and
especially the application of it, are evident to the most cursory
observer. For example, we see a child cling to its keeper, and refuse to
go to a stranger;--we see it when hungry stretch out its arms, and cry
to get to its nurse;--and when it has fallen in its efforts to walk, it
will not for some time attempt it again. These, and many more which will
occur to the reader, are the results of Nature's teaching;--her
suggestions to her pupil for the right application of its knowledge. The
child has been taught from experience that it is safe and comfortable
with its keeper, and it applies this knowledge by refusing to leave her.
It has learned how, and by whom, its hunger is to be satisfied; and it
applies this knowledge by seeking to be with its nurse. It has learned
by experience, that the attempt to walk is dangerous; and it applies
that knowledge by avoiding the danger. Here the child is wholly as yet
in the hands of Nature; and it is quite evident, that her design in
first enabling the pupil to acquire those portions of knowledge, was,
that she might induce him to apply them for his safety and comfort. No
doubt the mental powers of the child were cultivated and disciplined by
the acquisition of the knowledge, and still more by its application; but
this disciplining of the mind, and accumulation of knowledge, were
evidently a secondary object, and not the primary one. Health and
cheerfulness are gained by tilling the ground; yet the ground is not
tilled for the purpose of securing health and cheerfulness. It is for
the produce of the harvest. So, in like manner, the cultivation of the
child's mind, and the reception of the seeds of knowledge, are merely
means employed for a further end,--the harvest of comfort and usefulness
to be afterwards reaped. From all this we are directly led to the
conclusion, that it is the intention of Nature, that all the knowledge
acquired should be put to use; and therefore, that nothing should be
taught the young, in the first place at least, except that which is
really useful; while the proper use of all that they learn should be
diligently pointed out.

It may appear to some, that this truth is so plain and obvious, as to
require no further illustration or enforcement.--We sincerely wish that
it were so. But long experience justifies us in being sceptical on the
point. And as the establishment of this principle, and a thorough
knowledge of its working, are perhaps of more value than any other truth
in the whole range of educational science, we shall offer a few remarks
on its validity and importance, before proceeding to examine the means
by which Nature carries it into operation.

That knowledge, when once acquired, is intended by Nature to be put to
use, is proved negatively by the well known fact, that almost all our
_mental_ acquirements, when not used, are soon lost. They gradually fade
from the mind, and are at last blotted from the memory. Hence the
disappearance in after life of all the academical and collegiate
acquirements of those youths who move in a sphere where their use is not
required; and of those portions of the early attainments of even
professional men, which are not necessary for their particular pursuits.
By the universal operation of this principle, Nature gives fair warning
of the folly of useless learning; and plainly indicates, that whenever
the benefits which she confers are not put to use as she designed, they
will gradually, but most certainly, be withdrawn.

The same fact is also proved positively:--For we find, that the proper
use of any portion of our knowledge, is invariably rewarded by its
becoming still more familiar. The student who puts a principle in
chemistry to the test of experiment, will understand it better, remember
it longer, and be able to apply it to useful purposes, much more readily
than his companion who merely reflects upon it. And of two individuals,
who by a lecture have been taught the duty and the delights of mercy,
that one will learn it best, and remember it longest, who, immediately
on hearing it, is prompted to relieve a fellow creature from distress,
or to save a family from ruin.

This principle of making every thing conduce to the promotion of
practical good, seems to pervade all the works of God; and there is no
department in Nature, mineral, vegetable, or animal, that does not
afford proofs of its existence. Every thing that the Almighty has formed
is practically useful; and is arranged in such a manner as to give the
clearest indications, that it was designed to be turned to some useful
purpose by man. The annual and diurnal motions of the earth in its
orbit; the obliquity of its axis; the inequality of its surface, and the
disposition and disruption of its strata, all shew the most consummate
wisdom, and are severally a call to intelligent man to turn them to use.
On these, and on every other department of Nature's works, there is
written in legible characters, that it is the _use_ of knowledge, and
not the _possession_ of it merely, that is recommended. This she teaches
by every operation of her hand, both directly, and by analogy. For could
we suppose that the vegetable creation were capable of receiving
knowledge, we might conclude from various facts, that this principle was
not confined to the animal kingdom alone, but that it regulated the
operations of all organic existences. The living vegetable has at least
the appearance of acting under its influence; for, as if it knew that
light was necessary for its health and growth, it invariably turns
towards the light;--as if it knew that certain kinds of decayed matter
were better fitted for its nourishment than others, it pushes out new
fibrous roots in the direction of the spot where they are to be
found;--and even when isolated on a rock, or a wall, at a distance from
sufficient soil and moisture, it husbands its scanty means, and sends
down from its elevation an extra root to the ground, to collect
additional nourishment where it is to be had.

In every department of animal life, also, the principle appears to
exist, and exhibits itself in the conduct of all free agents, from the
insect to the elephant. The dog that has been kindly treated in a
particular house, seldom fails to visit it again; and when he is
violently driven from another, the same principle indisposes him to
return. It is upon record, that a surgeon who had bandaged the broken
leg of a dog, was afterwards visited by his patient, who brought
another, requiring a similar operation. The horse, in like manner, is
proverbially sagacious in the application of his knowledge.
Mismanagement in a groom in one instance, may create a "vice," which may
lessen his value during life. This "vice," which is confirmed by
practice, is nothing more than the repeated application of his
knowledge. Such a "vice," accordingly, is best cured by avoiding the
circumstances which originally gave rise to it, till it dies from his
memory. Many other instances of a similar kind in the lower animals will
readily occur to the reader, all of which lead directly to the
conclusion, that, even in the brute creation, Nature not only prompts
them to collect information from what happens around them, and to act in
correspondence to its indications; but that, in fact, all the knowledge
they receive, or are capable of acquiring above instinct, is retained or
lost, exactly in proportion as it is, or is not, put to use.

In the case of rational creatures, this great design of Nature is still
more distinctly marked,--is intended for more important purposes,--and
is carried on by a separate system of internal machinery, part of which
at least is peculiar to man. This system of mental machinery consists of
two kinds, one of which may, we think, with propriety get the popular
name of the "Animal, or Common Sense," and the other has already
received the appropriate name of "The Moral Sense," or conscience. To
Nature's method of using these principles, for prompting and directing
us in the use of our knowledge, we shall now shortly advert.


_On Nature's Methods of Applying Knowledge by the Principle of the
Animal, or Common Sense._

When an infant, by laying hold of a hot tea-pot burns its hand, it
refuses to touch it again;--when a child has been frightened from a park
or field, he will not willingly enter it a second time;--and when any
thing is thrown in the direction of the head, we instantly stoop, or
bend to one side, to evade it. These are instances of the application of
knowledge, by the principle of "common sense," which do not belong to
instinct; and, in many cases at least, anticipate the exercise of
reason. Our object at present, however, is with the principle, and not
with its name.

When we analyze these operations, together with their causes, we find,
that there are certain portions of knowledge daily and hourly acquired
by the senses, which become so interwoven with our sentiments and
feelings, that they usually remain unobserved, till some special
occasion calls for their application. Now the principle we speak of, if
it indeed be a separate principle, is employed by Nature to apply this
latent knowledge, and to induce her pupil instantly, and without
waiting for the decisions of reason, to perform certain actions, or to
pursue a certain line of conduct, which we almost instinctively feel to
be useful and safe. No sane child, for example, will deliberately stand
in the way of a horse or a carriage at full speed,--or walk over a
precipice,--or take burning coals from the fire with his fingers; were
he to do so, we would not dignify the act so far as to say that it was
"unreasonable," for that would be too mild an epithet,--but we would
pronounce it at once to be "contrary to common sense."

In like manner, were an adult to bemire himself in crossing a ditch,
instead of making use of the stepping-stones placed there for the
purpose; or if he were to stand till he were drenched with a
thunder-shower, instead of taking shelter for the time in the
neighbouring shed, we would not say that it was "unreasonable," but that
it was "contrary to common sense." In short, whenever any thing is done
which universal experience shews to be hurtful _to ourselves_, (not to
others) it is invariably denominated an act "contrary to common sense;"
but whenever it involves hurt _to others_, it takes another character,
and becomes a breach of the "moral sense."

It is not our design, however, to come out of our way at present, to
adapt the name to the principle in Nature of which we are here speaking,
and far less shall we attempt to mould the principle into a form
suitable to the name. Our business is with the principle itself, as it
appears in ourselves and others; and we use the term "common sense,"
merely because at present we cannot find one more appropriate, or which
would suit our purpose so well. If this name shall be found proper for
it, it is well;--but if not, we leave it to others to provide a better.

We have said, that Nature prompts to the use of knowledge by means of
two distinct principles; the one, which may be denominated the "Animal,"
or "Common Sense," refers to actions of which _we ourselves_ are the
subjects; and the other, known by the term of the "Moral Sense," or
conscience, refers to actions of which _others_ are the subjects. It is
the former of these that we are at present to investigate.

We must all have observed the promptness with which we avoid any sudden
danger, or inconvenience, before we have time to reason about the
matter. As, for example, when we stumble, we instantly put forth the
proper foot to prevent our fall. This cannot be said to be an act of the
reasoning powers, because they have not had time to operate; and it is
equally clear that it is not an act of instinct, because infants, who
have only begun to walk have not the capacity of doing it. It is
evidently another principle which, availing itself of the knowledge
which the person has previously acquired by experience, now uses it
specially for the occasion.

That this application of our knowledge arises neither from instinct nor
from reason, will be obvious from many circumstances of ordinary
occurrence.--For example, when any object approaches the eye we
instantly shut it;--when any missile is thrown at us, we instantly turn
the head aside to evade it;--or when in walking something destroys our
equilibrium and we stumble, we instantly bend the body in the proper
direction, and to the precise point, necessary to restore our balance,
and to prevent our fall.--Now it is obvious, that all these
contingencies are provided for by one and the same principle, whatever
that principle may be; and that they are acts which do not depend upon
instinct, properly so called, is proved from the circumstance, that
infants, before they are taught by experience that the eye is so tender,
and even adults who have but newly acquired the use of their sight,
neither shut their eyes at the approach of objects, nor turn away their
heads when a missile is thrown at them.--And we think it is equally
clear, that it cannot be the result of reasoning, in the sense in which
we generally understand that term, because the mind has no time for
consideration, far less for reasoning, during the short moment that
occurs between the cause and the effect.

The object which we have chiefly in view at present is, to point out the
great end designed by Nature in all these actions, which is simply _the
application of knowledge_. There is the knowledge that objects entering
the eye will give pain, and that the shutting of the eye will defend it.
This we have shown is not an instinctive operation, but must have been
acquired by experience;--and it is this principle, into the nature of
which we are now enquiring, that prompted the child in the special case
to apply its knowledge by shutting the eye. In like manner, in the case
of the missile thrown at the head, there is a previous knowledge of the
effect which it will produce, and a knowledge also of the means by which
it is to be avoided,--and it is avoided;--and in the case of losing the
equilibrium, there is nothing more than the application of a latent
knowledge, now suddenly brought into use on the spur of the moment, that
by the movement of the foot the body will be supported. The principle,
whatever it be, which instigates children and adults to do all this, is
the subject of our present enquiry, and which for the present we have
denominated the "Animal," or "Common sense." We shall therefore a little
more particularly attend to its various indications.

The operation of this principle in the infant has already been pointed
out. When it has learned by experience that its nurse is kind, it
stretches forth its little hands, and desires to be with the
nurse;--when in its first attempt at walking it experiences a fall, it
applies this knowledge, by refusing again for some time to walk;--and
when it burns its finger at the flame of the candle, the application of
that knowledge induces it ever after to avoid both fire and flame.

In after life the same principle continues to operate both
independently of reason, and in conjunction with it. In encountering the
air of a cold night, we, without reasoning on the matter, wrap ourselves
closer in our cloak. When we turn a corner, and meet a sharp frosty
wind, we lower the head to protect the uncovered face. When we emerge
from the house, and perceive that the dulness of the day indicates rain,
we almost instinctively return for a cloak or an umbrella. And the
mariner at sunset, when he sees an opening in the sky indicating a
storm, immediately takes in sail, and makes all snug for the night. In
all these cases we perceive a principle within us, frequently operating
along with reason, but sometimes also without it, which prompts us to
apply our previous knowledge for our present comfort and advantage.[7]
The constant operation of such a principle in our nature, no matter by
what name it is called, leads us, as plainly as analogy and natural
phenomena can do, to conclude, that it ought to be carefully studied,
and assiduously cultivated in the young, during the period usually
assigned for their education.

When we carefully trace the operation of this principle in common life,
it appears that, in fact, the greater portion of our physical comforts
depends upon it. "Experience" is but another name for it. We find some
substances warmer, softer, harder, or more workable than others, and we
apply this knowledge by substituting one for another. The savage finds
the wigwam more convenient, or more easily come at, than a cave or a
crevice in a rock, and he builds a wigwam;--he finds a hut more durable
than a wigwam, and he substitutes a hut;--he at last finds a cottage
still more convenient, and he advances in his desires and his abilities
by his former experience, and he builds one.--In every advance, however,
it is the application of his previous knowledge that increases his
comforts, and tends to perpetuate them; and accordingly, as a proper
and a general application of the "moral sense," leads directly to
national _virtue_; so the proper and general application of this
principle of "common sense" goes to promote every kind of personal and
family _comfort_, as well as national _prosperity_. Its ramifications
pierce through every design and action of industry and genius. It is the
exercise of this principle alone which, in the worldly sense,
distinguishes the wise man from the fool; and which gives all the
superiority which is possessed by a civilized, over a savage community.
It is the chief guardian of our safety, and the parent of every personal
and domestic comfort. It is, in short, familiarity with its exercise
that imparts confidence to the philosopher, decision to the legislator,
dexterity to the artificer, and perfection to the artist. In each case
it is the accumulation of knowledge _put to use_, which makes the
distinction between one man and another; and it is by the aggregation of
such men that a nation becomes prosperous. It must never therefore be
forgotten, that it is not the possession of knowledge, but the use which
we make of it, that confers distinction. For no truism is more
incontrovertible than this, that knowledge which we cannot or do not
use, is really useless.

There is no wonder then that Nature should be at some pains in training
her pupils to an exercise on which so much of their happiness and safety
depends; and it is of corresponding importance, that we should
investigate the means, and the mode by which she usually accomplishes
her end. If we can successfully attain this knowledge, we may be enabled
to pursue a similar course in the training of the young, and with
decided advantage.

When we take any one of the numerous examples of the working of this
principle in the adult, and carefully analyze it, we can detect three
distinct stages in the operation, before the effect is produced. The
_first_ is the knowledge of some useful truth, present to the mind, and
at the command of the will;--there is, _secondly_, an inference drawn
from that truth, or portion of our knowledge, or the impression of an
inference which was formerly drawn from it, and which, as we have seen
in the infant, may remain long after the circumstance from which the
lesson was derived has been forgotten;--and there is, _thirdly_, a
special application of that inference or impression to our present
circumstances. For example, in the case of the person leaving the house,
and suddenly returning to provide himself with an umbrella, there is
first the knowledge of a fact, that "the sky is lowering;" then there is
an inference drawn from this fact, that "there will most probably be
rain;" but the comfort--the whole benefit arising from this knowledge,
and from this reasoning upon it,--depends on the third stage of the
operation, which is therefore the most important of all, namely, the
application of the inference, or lesson, to his present circumstances. A
mere knowledge of the fact that the sky lowered, would have remained a
barren and a useless truth in the mind, unless he had proceeded to draw
the proper inference from it; and the inference itself, after it was
drawn, would have done him no good, but must rather have added to his
uneasiness, had he not proceeded to the third step of the operation, and
applied the whole to the regulation of his conduct, in providing himself
with an umbrella or a cloak.

In like manner, in the supposed case of the mariner expecting a storm,
there was first the knowledge of the fact, that the "sky was in a
certain state." Now of this knowledge every person on board might have
been in possession as well as the master himself, without the slightest
benefit accruing to themselves or the ship, unless they had been
trained, or enabled to draw the proper inference or lesson from it. The
mere possession of the knowledge, therefore, would have been of no
advantage. But the practised eye, and the previous experience of the
master, enabled him to draw the inference, that "there will be a
storm." Even this, however, would not have saved the ship and crew,
without the third, and the most important step of all,--the application
of that inference or lesson to their present condition. It was that
which induced him to give the necessary orders to prepare for the storm,
and thus to secure the safety both of the ship and of all on board.

Again, in the case of the infant burning its finger, there appears to be
something like a similar process, which we can trace much better than
the child itself. The child puts its finger to the flame of the candle,
and it feels pain; from which it learns, for the first time, that flame
burns. This is the knowledge which it has acquired. But there is also an
inference drawn from that knowledge, not by reasoning, but by the
operation of the principle under consideration, an inference of which it
is probable the child itself at the time is unconscious, but the
existence of which is sufficiently proved by its uniform conduct
afterwards. By the operation of this principle in the child's mind,
before he can reason, he has inferred, that if he shall again touch
flame, he will again feel pain. He will very probably forget the
particular circumstance in which his finger was burned, but the
inference then drawn,--the impression made upon the mind, and which
corresponds to an inference,--still remains, and is made the chief
instrument which Nature employs in this most important part of all her
valuable educational processes. The child accordingly is found ever
after, not only preserving the particular finger that was burned, but
all its fingers and members, from a burning candle; and not from a
candle only, but from fire and flame of every kind.

This appears to be the natural order of that process of which we are
here speaking; and before leaving it, there are two or three
circumstances connected with it, that we ought not to omit noticing,
more particularly, because the whole of them appear to hold out
additional evidence of the little value which Nature attaches to
knowledge for its own sake, and of her decided approval of its
acquisition, only, or at least chiefly, when it is reduced to practice.

The first of these circumstances is, that Nature, in all cases, teaches
popularly--not philosophically; that is, she does not refuse to teach
one part of a connected series of phenomena, because the whole is not
yet perceived; nor does she neglect the use of the legitimate
application of an ascertained truth, because the principle or law by
which it acts remains as yet undiscovered. Her object evidently is, the
attainment of the most _useful_ part of the knowledge presented to her
pupil, and the _practical use_ of that part; leaving the investigation
of the other parts to the will or convenience of the person afterwards.
The infant accordingly made use of its knowledge, although it knew
nothing about the nature of flame; and the man and the mariner would
have done as they did, although they had known nothing at all about the
science of meteorology.

The second remark which we would here make is, that Nature, in most
cases, appears to put much more value on the inferences, or lessons,
drawn from the knowledge we have acquired, than she does upon the
knowledge itself. For example, in the case of the infant burning its
finger, the circumstance itself will soon be forgotten; but the
inference, or the impression acquired by its means, will remain. And
when at any subsequent period it avoids fire or flame, its mind is not
so much occupied by the abstract truth that flame will burn, as by the
lesson learned from that truth, that it should not meddle with it. This
inference it now practically applies to its present situation. That the
abstract truth,--the knowledge originally derived from the fact,--is
included in the lesson, may be quite true; but what we wish at present
more particularly to point out is, that _it is seldom adverted to by the
infant_. The inference,--the lesson which the truth suggested,--is all
that the child thought of. That alone is the fabric which Nature has
been employed in rearing; and the original truth has been used merely as
scaffolding for the purpose. The edifice itself, accordingly, having
been completed, the scaffolding is allowed to fall, as having answered
its design.

The same conclusion may be come to, by attending to the circumstances
connected with the operation of the principle in adults.--The person who
returned for his great-coat or umbrella after having drawn the inference
from the appearance of the sky, thought only of the coming shower; and
we could easily suppose a case, where the original indication of the sky
might be totally forgotten, while the full impression that it would rain
might still continue. In like manner, the mariner, in the bustle of
preparation, thinks only of the dreaded storm, while the original
circumstance,--the knowledge from which the inference was drawn,--is now
unheeded, or entirely forgotten.

The other circumstance to which we would here solicit attention, as
proving the same thing, is one to which we formerly alluded. It is the
remarkable fact, that knowledge, of whatever kind, when it is practised,
becomes more and more familiar and useful; while that which is not acted
upon, is soon blotted from the memory and lost. Writing, arithmetic, and
spelling, not to speak of grammar, geography, and history, when not
exercised in after life, are frequently found of no avail, even at times
when they are specially required.--Why is this? They were once known.
The knowledge was communicated at a time when the mind and memory were
best fitted for receiving and retaining them. But Nature in this, as in
every other instance, has been true to herself; and the knowledge which
is not used has been blighted, and at last removed from the memory and

From all these circumstances taken together, we are led to conclude,
that Nature never conveys knowledge without intending it to be
used;--that by a principle in our constitution, which we have
denominated "common sense," Nature prompts even infants to employ their
knowledge for their own special benefit;--that this principle continues
invariably to act, till it is assisted or superseded by reason;--and
that the process consists in drawing inferences, or lessons, from known
facts, and in practically applying them to present circumstances. All
which points the Educationist directly to the conclusion, that the
communication of knowledge is one of the _means_, but not the _end_, of
education;--that the lessons derived from the knowledge communicated,
are infinitely more valuable than the knowledge itself;--and that the
great design of education is, and ought to be, to train the young to
know how to use, and to put to use, not only the knowledge communicated
at school, but all the knowledge which they may acquire in their future
journey through life.


[7] Note F.


_On Nature's Method of applying Knowledge by means of the Moral Sense,
or Conscience._

Nature enables her pupils to apply knowledge by means of the moral
sense, or conscience, as well as by the animal, or common sense. There
is however this great difference in the manner in which they
operate,--that whereas every infringement of the natural or physical
laws which regulate the application of knowledge by what we have called
the common sense, is invariably followed by its proper punishment,--the
consequences of infringing the laws which regulate the moral sense, are
neither so immediate, nor at the time so apparent. The child knows, that
by putting his finger to the candle, burning and pain will instantly
follow;--but the evil consequences of purloining sweet-meats, or telling
a lie to avoid punishment, are not so obvious. Does Nature then put less
value on moral integrity, than on worldly prudence? Certainly not. But
in the latter case she deals with man more as a physical and
intellectual being; and in the former, as a moral, a responsible, and an
immortal being. The lower animals to a great extent participate with us
in the benefits arising from attention to the laws which govern physical
enjoyments; but they know nothing of a moral sense, which is peculiar to
intelligent and accountable creatures. From this we may safely conclude,
that the application of knowledge by means of the moral sense, or
conscience, is of infinitely more importance to man than the application
of his knowledge by the animal, or common sense.

For the purpose of arriving at accurate conclusions on this subject, in
reference to education and the application of knowledge, we shall
endeavour to investigate a few of the phenomena connected with the moral
sense, as these are exhibited in the young and in adults; and shall, in
doing so, attempt to trace the laws by which these phenomena are
severally guided.

1. The first thing we would here remark, is, that the operations of the
moral sense appear to be resolvable into two classes, which may be
termed its _legislative_ and its _executive_ powers. When conscience
leads us merely to judge and to decide upon the character of a feeling
or an action, whether good or evil, it acts in its _legislative_
capacity; but when it reproves and punishes, or approves and rewards,
for actions done, it acts in its _executive_ capacity. These two
departments of the moral sense seem quite distinct in their nature and
operations; and, as we shall immediately see, they not only exist
separately, but they sometimes act independently of each other.

2. Another circumstance connected with conscience is, that her
_legislative_ powers do not develope themselves, nor appear to act, till
the reasoning powers of the person begin to expand. Then, and then only
does the pupil of Nature, who has not had the benefit of previous moral
instruction, begin to decide on the merit or demerit of actions.
Infants, and children who are left without instruction, appear to have
no distinct perception that certain actions are right, and others wrong.
In infancy, we frequently perceive the most rebellious outbreakings of
ungoverned passion, with tearing, and scratching, and beating the
parent, without any indication of compunction, either at the time, or
after it has taken place. Even in children of more advanced years, while
they remain without moral instruction, and before the reasoning powers
are developed, the injuries which they occasion to each other, or which
they inflict upon the old, the decrepit, or the helpless, are matters of
unmingled glee and gratification, without the slightest sign of
conscience interfering to prevent them, or of giving them any uneasiness
after the mischief is done. Instead of sorrow, such children are found
invariably delighted with the recollection of their tricks; and never
fail to recapitulate them to their companions afterwards, with triumph
and satisfaction.--But it is not so with the adult. As soon as the
reasoning powers are developed, the legislative functions of conscience
begin to act, enabling and impelling the person to decide at once on
actions, whether they are right or wrong, good or evil. Such a person,
therefore, could not strike nor abuse his parents, without knowing that
he was doing wrong; nor could he tantalize or injure the aged or the
helpless, without conscience putting him upon his guard, as well as
reproving and punishing the crime by compunctious feelings after it was

From this we perceive, that the legislative powers of conscience are
usually dormant in the child, and do not, when left to Nature, act till
the reasoning powers have exhibited themselves; from which we are led to
conclude, that it is by an _early education_,--by _moral instruction_
alone,--that the young are to be guarded against crime, and prepared and
furnished to good works.

3. This leads us to observe another remarkable circumstance,
corroborative also of the above remark, which is, that although the
legislative powers of conscience are but very imperfectly, if at all
developed in children, yet the _executive_ powers are never absent,
where moral instruction has previously been communicated.--A child of
very tender years, and even an infant, may be taught, that certain
actions are good and should be performed, while others are evil and must
be avoided. This is matter of daily experience; and a little attention
to the subject will shew, that moral instruction in the case of the
young, acts the same part that the legislative powers of conscience do
in the adult. But what we wish at present more particularly to remark
is, that whenever such moral instruction has been communicated, Nature
at once sanctions it, and is ever ready to use the executive powers of
the conscience for the purpose of rendering it effective. When therefore
good actions have been pointed out as praiseworthy and deserving of
approbation, there is a strong inducement to practise them, and a
delightful feeling of satisfaction and self-approval after they have
been performed. And when, on the contrary, certain other actions have
been denounced as wicked, and which, if indulged in, will be punished
either by their parents or by God, the child feels all the hesitation
and fear to commit them, that is observable in similar cases among older
persons; and, when committed he experiences the same remorse, and
terror, and self-reproach, which in the adult follow the perpetration of
an aggravated crime. This is a circumstance which must be obvious to
every reader; and it distinctly intimates, that the God of Nature
intends that the legislative powers of conscience should in all cases
be _anticipated_ by the parent and teacher. The moral instruction or the
young is to be the rule; the neglect of it, although in some measure
provided for, is to be the exception. The lesson is as plain as analogy
can teach us, that, while there is written on the heart of man such an
outline of the moral law as will leave him without excuse when called to
judgment, yet it is not the design of the Creator that, in a matter of
such vast importance as the moral perfection of a rational creature, we
should trust to that, and, like savages, leave our children to gather
information respecting moral good and evil solely from the slowly
developed and imperfect dictates of their own nature. The whole
phenomena of the natural conscience shew, that although God secures the
operation of the legislative powers of conscience to direct the actions
of the man when they are really required, yet he intends that they
should be anticipated by moral instruction given by the parent. And this
is proved by the remarkable fact, that when this instruction is
communicated, the executive powers of conscience immediately come into
operation, and homologate this instruction, by approving of it, adopting
it, and acting upon it.

4. This is still farther obvious from a fourth consideration, which is,
that wherever moral instruction has been communicated to the young, the
legislative powers of conscience are either altogether superseded, or
left dormant.--Every person who in youth has received a regular moral
and religious education, and who retains upon his mind the knowledge
then communicated, is found through life to act upon _that_ knowledge
chiefly, if not entirely. He seldom thinks of the dictates of his
natural conscience, and but rarely perceives them. In every decision to
which he comes as to what is right or wrong, reference is generally made
in his mind, either to the declarations of Scripture, or to the moral
instructions which he has formerly received; and upon these he
invariably falls back, when any action of a doubtful character is
presented for his approval or rejection. From this very remarkable
circumstance, we at once ascertain what are the intentions of Nature.
She very plainly requires the early moral instruction of the young, by
those into whose hands she has placed them; because she is here found to
encourage and acknowledge this instruction at the expense of her own
legislative powers, which not being now required, are allowed to lie

5. Another circumstance connected with this subject, is the well known
fact, that children are found capable of moral instruction long before
the time that Nature usually begins to develope the legislative powers
of the conscience.--A child, almost as soon as he can be made to know
that he has an earthly father, may be taught that he has another Father
in heaven; and when he can be induced to feel that a certain line of
conduct is necessary to secure the favour of the one, he may also be led
to comprehend that certain dispositions and actions will please the
other. Now, that a child can be taught and trained to do all this with
respect to his parents, is matter of daily experience. As soon as he can
understand any thing, and long before he can speak, he may be enabled to
distinguish between right and wrong, as well as to do that which is
good, and to avoid that which is evil; and in every case of this kind,
Nature sanctions the moral instruction communicated, by invariably
following it up with the practical operation of the executive powers of
conscience, which always approve that which the child thinks is good,
and reprove that which he supposes to be wrong. The triumphant gleam of
satisfaction which brightens the countenance of a child, and the
laughing look and pause for approval when he has done something that he
knows to be right, are abundant proofs of the truth of this observation;
while his cowering scowl, and fear of reproof or punishment, when he
has done that which is wrong, are equal indications of the same thing.
Nature, therefore, that has given the capacity of distinguishing between
good and evil when thus communicated, and that invariably approves of
the operation, and assists in it, has most certainly intended that it
should be exercised. This consideration, taken in connection with its
advantages to the family, to the child, to the future man, and to
society, plainly points out the value and the importance of early
religious instruction and moral training.

6. Another circumstance, in connection with the application of knowledge
by means of the conscience, should not be overlooked. It is the
remarkable fact, that Nature has implanted in the mind of the young a
principle, by which they unhesitatingly believe whatever they are
told.--A child who has not been abused by frequent deceptions, is a
perfect picture of docility. He never for a moment doubts either his
parent or his teacher when he tells him what is right and what is wrong.
If he be taught that it is a sin to eat flesh on Fridays, he never
questions the truth of it; and if told that he may kill spiders, but
should not hurl flies, he may wonder at the difference, but he never
doubts the correctness of the statement. This disposition in children is
applicable to every kind of instruction offered to them;--but the
superior importance of moral, to every other kind of truth, and the
beneficial effects of the principle when applied to moral and religious
training, shew that it is chiefly designed by Nature for aiding the
parent and teacher in this most important part of their labours.

7. Another circumstance connected with this subject is, that the
executive powers of conscience always act according to the belief of the
person, and not according to what would have been the dictates of
conscience in the exercise of her legislative functions.--This of itself
is a sufficient proof of the separate and independent agency of these
two principles. The legislative powers, as at first implanted in the
heart of man, there is reason to believe, would, if allowed to act
freely, never have been in error; and even still, they are generally a
witness for the purity of truth;--but the executive powers invariably
act, not according to what is really the truth, but according to what
the person himself believes to be right or wrong. The child who was told
that it was a sin to eat flesh on a Friday, would be reproved by his
conscience were he to indulge his appetite by doing so;--and the
conscience of the zealous Musselman, which would smite him for indulging
in a sip of wine, would commend and reward him by its approval, for
indulging in cruelty and injustice to the unbeliever in his faith. The
executive functions of conscience then act independently of the
legislative, and frequently in opposition to them. There must be a
feeling of wrong, before the executive powers will reprove; and there
must be a sense of merit, before they will commend;--but a mistake in
either case makes no apparent difference. This is another, and a
powerful argument for the early moral instruction of the young; and it
shews us also, the greater value which Nature puts upon the
_application_ and _use_ of knowledge, than upon its possession. She not
only encourages this application in all ordinary cases; but here we find
her, for the purpose of maintaining the general principle, lending her
assistance in the application and use of the knowledge received, even
when the knowledge itself is erroneous, and the application mischievous.

8. Another important circumstance which is worthy of especial notice,
is, that conscience is much more readily acted upon by _examples_, than
by _precepts_.--In communicating a knowledge of duty, this principle in
Nature has become proverbial; but it is not less true with respect to
the executive powers, in approving or reproving that which is right or
wrong. It is the prerogative of conscience to excite us to approve or
condemn the conduct of others, as well as our own; and this is
regulated, not by strict truth, but by our belief at the time, whether
that belief be correct or the contrary. Now the precept, "Thou shalt not
kill," would be sufficient to make the executive powers of conscience
watchful, in deterring the individual from the crime, or in reproving
and punishing him if he committed it. But the mere precept would have
but little effect in exhibiting to him the full atrocity of the sin, in
comparison with an anecdote or a story which detailed its commission.
But even this would not be so powerful as the effect produced by a
murder committed in a neighbouring street, and still more were it
perpetrated in his own presence. The necessary inference to be drawn
from this remarkable fact is, that moral truth is much more effectively
taught by example than by precept; and accordingly we find, that at
least four-fifths of scripture, which is altogether a moral instrument,
consist of narrative, and are given specially, "that the man of God may
be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work."

9. Another circumstance worthy of observation is, that the executive
powers of conscience appear to be exceedingly partial when exercised
upon actions done by _ourselves_, in comparison of its decisions upon
the same actions when they are committed by _others_.--When we ourselves
perform a good action, the approval of our conscience is more lively and
more extensive, than it would have been had the good action been that of
another. On the contrary, it would be more ready to perform its
functions, and more powerful in impressing upon our minds the demerit or
wickedness of an action committed by another, than if we ourselves had
committed it. The reason of this is obviously self-love, which partly
overbears the natural operations of this principle. Violence of passion
and strong desire, when we are tempted to commit a crime, are hostile
movements against the dictates of conscience; and they too frequently,
by their excess, stifle and drown the still small voice which does
speak out, but which, for the moment, is not heard within us.--But
nothing of this kind takes place when the crime is committed by others.
We are then much more impartial; and conscience is permitted to utter
her voice, and to make her impressions without opposition. This
impartial decision on the conduct of others, is found to be a great
means of preventing us from the future commission of a similar crime;
and this affords us another powerful argument in favour of early
instruction and moral training. By attending early to this duty, the
mind of the child is made up, and sentence has been pronounced on
certain acts, before selfishness or the passions have had an opportunity
of blinding the mind, or silencing the conscience. By proper moral
training the pupil is fortified and prepared for combating his evil
inclinations when temptations occur; but without this, he will have to
encounter sudden temptations at a great disadvantage.

10. Another circumstance connected with this subject is, that the moral
sentiments and feelings above all others, are improved and strengthened
by exercise; and are weakened, and often destroyed by disregard or
opposition.--Every instance of moral exercise or moral discipline,
invigorates the executive powers of conscience, and renders the moral
perceptions of the person more acute and tender. Every successful
struggle against a temptation, implants in the mind of a child a noble
consciousness of dignity, and confers a large amount of moral strength,
and a firmer determination to resist others. In this respect, the good
derived from the mere knowledge of a duty and its actual performance is
immense. A child who is merely told that a certain action is
praiseworthy, is by no means so sensible of the fact, or of its value,
as he is after he has actually performed it; and when, on the contrary,
he is told that a certain action is wrong, he is no doubt prepared to
avoid it; but it is not till he has been tempted to its commission, and
has successfully overcome the temptation, that he is fully aware of its
enormity. When he has successfully resisted the first temptation, he is
much better prepared than any exhortation or warning could make him for
resisting and repelling a second;--while every successive victory will
give strength to the executive powers of the conscience, and will render
future conflicts less hazardous, and resistance more easy. For the same
reason, an amiable action frequently performed does not pall by
repetition, but appears more and more amiable, till the doing of it
grows into a habit; and the approval of conscience becoming every day
more satisfactory, the person will be stimulated to its frequent and
regular observance.

But the opposite of this is equally true.--The continued habit of
suppressing the voice of conscience will greatly weaken, and will at
last destroy its executive powers. When a person knows that a certain
action is wrong, and is tempted to commit it,--conscience will speak
out, and for the first time at least it will be listened to. But if this
warning be neglected, and the sin be committed, the conscience will be
proportionally weakened, and the self-will of the individual will
acquire additional strength. When the temptation again presents itself,
it is with redoubled power, and it meets with less resistance. It will
invariably be found in such cases, that the person felt much more
difficulty in resisting the admonitions of conscience in the case of the
first temptation, than in that of the second; and he will also feel more
during the second than he will during the third. Frequent resistance
offered to the executive powers of conscience will at last lay them
asleep. The beginning of this downward career is always the most
difficult; but when once fairly begun, it grows every day more easy,
till the habit of sin becomes like a second nature.

11. There is yet another feature in the exhibition of the moral sense in
adults, which ought not to be overlooked by the Educationist in his
treatment of the young. We here allude to the remarkable fact, that the
conscience scarcely ever refers to consequences connected merely with
this world and time, but compels the man, in spite of himself, to fear,
that his actions will, in some way or other, have an influence upon his
happiness or his misery in another world, and through eternity.--The
mere uneasiness arising from the fear of detection and punishment by
men, is a perfectly different kind of feeling, and never is, and never
ought to be, dignified with the name of conscience. It is the
consequence of a mere animal calculation of chances;--similar to the
feelings which give rise to the cautious prowling of the hungry lion, or
the stealthy advances of the timorous fox. But the forebodings, as well
as the gnawings of conscience, extend much farther, and strike much
deeper, than these superficial and animal sensations. Conscience in man,
as long as it is permitted to act freely, has always a reference to God,
to a future judgment, and to eternity, and is but rarely affected by
worldly considerations. The valuable lesson to be drawn from this
circumstance obviously is, that the parent and teacher ought, in their
moral training of the young, to make use of the same principle. The
anticipated approbation or displeasure of their earthly parents or
teachers, or even the fear of the rod and correction, is not enough.
Children are capable of being restrained by much higher motives, and
stimulated to duty by nobler and more generous feelings. The greatness,
the holiness, the unwearied goodness, and the omnipresence of their
heavenly Father, present to the rational and tender affections of the
young, a constantly increasing stimulus to obedience and
self-controul;--while the fear of mere physical suffering will be found
daily to decrease, and may perhaps in some powerful minds at last
altogether disappear. The horse and the dog were intended to be trained
in the one way;--but rational and intelligent minds were obviously
intended to be trained in the other.

Of these facts, connected as they are with the application of knowledge
by means of the moral sense, the Educationist must make use for the
perfecting of his science. They are the most valuable, and therefore
they ought to form the most important branch of his investigations. All
the other parts of Nature's teaching were but means;--this is obviously
the great end she designed by using them, and therefore it ought to be
his also.

In regard to the practical working of this important part of Nature's
educational process, we need only remark here, that the application of
the pupil's knowledge connected with the moral sense, is precisely the
same in form, as in that connected with the common sense. There is
always here first, as in the former case, some fundamental truth,
generally derived from Scripture, or founded on some moral maxim, and
presented in the form of a precept, a promise, a threatening, or an
example;--there is next a lesson or inference drawn from this
truth;--and there is, lastly, a practical application of that lesson or
inference to present circumstances.

For the purpose of illustrating this, let us suppose that a boy who has
been trained in imitation of Nature, is tempted by some ungodly
acquaintances to join with them in absenting himself from public
worship, and in breaking the Sabbath. The moment that such a temptation
is suggested to him, a feeling arises in his mind, which will take
something like the following form:--"I ought not to absent myself from
public worship;"--"I ought not to break the Sabbath;"--"I ought not to
keep bad company." Here are three distinct lessons suited to the
occasion, obviously derived from his previous knowledge, and which he
has been trained either directly or indirectly to draw from "the only
rule of duty," the Bible. When, accordingly, the temptation is farther
pressed upon him, and the reasons of his refusal are regularly put into
form, they appear in something like the following shape and order:--"I
must not absent myself from public worship; for thus it is written,
'Forget not the assembling of yourselves together;' and, 'Jesus, _as his
custom was_, went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day.'"--"I must not
profane this holy day; for thus it is written, 'Remember the Sabbath day
to keep it holy,'"--And, "I must not go with these boys; for thus it is
written, 'Go not in the way of the ungodly;' and 'Evil communications
corrupt good manners.'"

Whoever will investigate the subject closely, will find, that the above
is a pretty correct picture of the mental process, wherever temptation
is opposed and overcome by means of religious principle;--but it is also
worthy of remark, that the form is still nearly the same by whomsoever a
temptation is resisted, and whether they do or do not take the
Scriptures for their text-book and directory. The only difference in
such a case is, that their lessons have been drawn from some _other_
source. For example, another boy exposed to the above temptation might
successfully resist it upon the following grounds. He might say, "I must
not absent myself from public worship; because I shall then lose the
promised reward for taking home the text;"--"I dare not profane the
Sabbath; because, if I did, my father would punish me;"--"I will not go
with these boys; because I would be ashamed to be seen in their
company." In this latter example, we have the same lessons, and the same
application, although these lessons have been derived from a more
questionable, and a much more variable source. In both cases, however,
it is the same operation of Nature, and which we ought always to imitate
therefore upon scriptural and solid grounds.

These examples might be multiplied in various forms, and yet they would
in every case be found substantially alike. The application of
knowledge, whether by the common or the moral sense, is carried forward
only in one way, in which the truth, the lesson, and the application,
follow each other in natural order, whether they be perceived or not. To
this process, therefore, every branch and portion of our knowledge ought
to be adapted, as it is obviously the great end designed by Nature in
all her previous endeavours. The parent, therefore, or the teacher, who
wilfully passes over, or but slightly attends to these plain
indications, is really betraying his trust, and deeply injuring the
future prospects of his immortal charge.

The several circumstances enumerated in the previous part of this
chapter, as connected with the moral sense, are capable of suggesting
many important hints for the establishment of education; but there are
one or two connected with the subject as a whole, to which we must very
shortly allude.

In the first place, from the foregoing facts we are powerfully led to
the conclusion, that all kinds of physical good, such as health,
strength, beauty, riches, and honours, and even the higher attainments
of intellectual sagacity and knowledge, are, in the estimation of
Nature, not once to be compared with the very lowest of the moral
acquirements. With respect to the former, man shares them, though in a
higher degree, with the brute creation;--but _morals_ are altogether
peculiar to higher intelligences. To man, in particular, the value of
moral discipline is beyond calculation:--For, however much the present
ignorance and grossness of men's minds may deceive them in weighing
their respective worth, yet it would be easy to shew, that the knowledge
and practice of but one additional truth in morals, are of more real
value to a child, than a whole lifetime of physical enjoyment. Nature
has accordingly implanted in his constitution, a complete system of
moral machinery, to assist the parent in this first and most important
part of his duty,--that of guiding his children in the paths of
religion and virtue. The executive powers of conscience are always alive
and active, stimulating or restraining both young and old, wherever the
action proposed partakes of the character of right or wrong. And, even
where the parental duties in this respect have been neglected, Nature
has, in part, graciously provided a remedy. In all such cases, during
the years of advancing manhood, the law is gradually and vividly written
upon the heart. Its dictates are generally, no doubt, dimmed and defaced
by the natural depravity and recklessness of the sinner; but even then,
they are sufficiently legible to leave him without excuse for his
neglect of their demands.

The preference which Nature gives to moral acquirements, is demonstrated
also by another feature in her different modes of applying knowledge by
the common and the moral senses. In the attainment of physical good,
Nature leaves men, as she does the lower animals, in a great measure to
themselves, under the guardianship of the common sense; but, in respect
to actions that are morally good or evil, she deals with them in a much
more solemn and dignified manner. A transgression of the laws of the
natural or common sense, is, without discrimination and without mercy,
visited with present and corresponding punishment; plainly indicating,
that with respect to these there is to be no future reckoning;--while
the trial and final judgment of moral acts are usually reserved for a
future, a more solemn, and a more comprehensive investigation.

Another inference which legitimately arises out of the above
considerations, as well as from the facts themselves, is, that religion
and morals are really intended to be the chief object of attention in
the education of the young. This is a circumstance so clearly and so
frequently pointed out to us, in our observation of Nature's educational
processes, that no person, we think, of a philosophic turn of mind, can
consistently refuse his assent to it. The facts are so numerous, and
the legitimate inferences to be drawn from them are so plain, that
pre-conceived opinions should never induce us either to blink them from
fear, or deny them from prejudice. These facts and inferences too, it
should be observed, present themselves to our notice in all their own
native power and simplicity, invulnerable in their own strength, and, in
one sense, altogether independent of revelation. They are, no doubt,
efficiently supported in every page of the Christian Record; but,
without revelation, they force themselves upon our conviction, and
cannot be consistently refuted. We state this fearlessly, from a
consideration of numerous facts, to a few of which, selected from among
many, we shall, before concluding, very shortly advert.

In the first place, it is obvious to the most cursory observer, that
moral attainments and moral greatness are more honoured by Nature, and
are, of course, more valuable to man, than the possession of either
intellectual or physical good.--Nature has, to the possessor, made
virtue its own reward, in that calm consciousness of dignity,
self-approval, and peace, which are its natural results; while, even
from the mere looker-on, she compels an approval. On the contrary, we
find, that the highest intellectual or physical attainments, when
coupled with vice, lead directly and invariably to corresponding depths
of degradation and misery. No one, we think, can deny this as a general
principle; and if it be admitted, the question is settled; for no person
acting rationally would seek the _lesser_ good for his child, at the
expense of the _greater_.

Another proof of the same fact is, that Nature has provided for the
physical and intellectual education of the young, by means of the animal
or "common sense;" while morals are, in a great measure, left to the
education of the parents. The principle of common sense, as we have
seen, begins its operations and discipline in early infancy, and
continues to act through life; but the culture of the moral sense,--by
far the most important of the two,--is left during infancy and childhood
very much to the affections of the natural guardians of the child, and
to the results of their education. Hence it is, that while Nature amply
provides for the _neglect_ of this duty, by the developement of the
legislative powers of conscience towards manhood, they are comparatively
feeble, and in ordinary cases are but little thought of or observed,
wherever this duty has timeously been attended to. From all these
circumstances we infer, that it is the intention of Nature, that the
establishment and culture of religion and morals should in every case
form the chief objects of education,--the main business of the family
and the school;--an intention which she has pointed out and guarded by
valuable rewards on the one hand, and severe penalties on the other.
When the duty is faithfully attended to, Nature lends her powerful
assistance, by the early developement of the executive powers of
conscience, and the virtue of the pupil is the appropriate reward to
both parties; but, when this is omitted, the growing depravity of the
child becomes at once the reproof and the punishment of the parents, for
this wilful violation of Nature's designs.

In conclusion, it may be necessary to remark, that from these latter
circumstances, another and a directly opposite inference may be drawn,
which we must not allow to pass without observation.--It may be said,
that the very postponement of the legislative powers of conscience till
the years of manhood, shews, that religion and morals are not designed
to be taught till that period arrive. Now, to this there are two
answers.--_First_, if it were correct, it would set aside, and render
useless almost all the other indications of Nature on this subject. In
accordance with the view taken of the circumstances as above, these
indications are perfectly harmonious and effective; but, in the view of
the case which this argument supposes, they are all inconsistent and
useless.--But, _secondly_, if this argument proves any thing, it proves
too much, and would infer the absurd proposition, that physical and
intellectual qualities are superior in value to moral attainments;--a
proposition that is contradicted, as we have shewn, by every operation
and circumstance in Nature and providence. It is in direct opposition
also to all the unsophisticated feelings of human Nature. No thinking
person will venture to affirm, that the beauty of the courtezan, the
strength of the robber, or the intelligence and sagacity of the
swindler, are more to be honoured than the generous qualities of a
Wilberforce or a Howard. And therefore it is, that from a calm and
dispassionate consideration of these facts, and independently altogether
of revelation, we cannot see how any impartial philosophic mind can
evade the conclusion, that the chief object to be attended to in the
education of the young, and to which every thing else should be strictly
subservient, is _their regular and early training in religion and


_On Nature's Method of Training her Pupils to Communicate their

There is yet a _Fourth_ process in the educational system of Nature,
which may be termed supplementary, as it is not intended solely, nor
even chiefly, for the good of the pupil himself, but for the
community.--This process of Nature consists in the training of her pupil
to communicate, by language, not only his own wishes and wants, but
also, and perhaps chiefly, the knowledge and experience which he himself
has attained. The three previous processes of Nature were in a great
measure selfish,--referring to the pupil as an individual, and are of
use although he should be alone, and isolated from all others of his
species; but this is characteristically social, and to the monk and the
hermit is altogether useless.

That this ability to communicate our sentiments is intended by Nature,
not for the sole benefit of the individual, but chiefly as an instrument
of doing good to others, appears obvious from various circumstances. Its
importance in education, and in the training of the young, would of
itself, we think, be a sufficient proof of this; but it is rendered
unquestionable by the invariable decision of every unbiassed mind, in
judging of a person who is constantly speaking of and for himself; and
of another whose sole object in conversation, is to exalt and promote
the happiness of those around him. The one person, however meritorious
otherwise, is pitied or laughed at;--the other is admired and applauded
in spite of ourselves.

The benevolence of this arrangement in the educational process of Nature
is worthy of especial notice, as it leads us directly to the conclusion,
that learning, of whatever kind, is not intended to be a monkish and
personal thing, but is really designed by Nature for the benefit of the
community at large. Those connected with education, therefore, are here
taught, that the training of the young should be so conducted, that
while the attainments of the pupil shall in every instance benefit
himself, they shall at the same time be of such a kind, and shall be
communicated in such a way, as shall advantage the persons with whom he
is to mingle, and the community of which he is to form a part. Unless
this lesson, taught us by Nature, be attended to, her plan is obviously
left incomplete.

In entering upon the consideration of this part of our subject, we
cannot but remark the value and the importance which Nature has attached
to the higher acquisitions of this anti-selfish portion of her teaching.
Language is perverted and abused, when it is generally and chiefly
employed for the benefit of the individual himself; and the decision of
every candid and well-disposed mind confirms the truth of this
assertion. When, on the contrary, it is employed for the benefit of
others, or for the good of the public in general, it commands attention,
and compels approval. Eloquence, therefore, is obviously intended by
Nature for the benefit of communities; and accordingly, she has so
disposed matters in the constitution of men's minds, and of society,
that communities shall in every instance do it homage. In proof of this,
we find, in every age and nation, wherever Nature is not totally debased
by art or crime, that the most powerful orator, has almost always been
found to be the most influential man. Every other qualification in
society has been made to bend to this, and even reason itself is often
for the moment obscured, by means of its fascinations. Learning and
intellect, riches, popularity, and power, have frequently been made to
quail before it; and even virtue itself has for a time been deprived of
its influence, when assailed by eloquence. Nay, even in more artificial
communities, where Nature has been constrained and moulded anew to suit
the tastes and caprices of selfish men, eloquence has still maintained
its reputation, and has generally guided the possessor to honour and to
power. Amongst the lower and unsophisticated classes of society its
influence is almost universal; and in most polished communities, it is
still acknowledged as a high attainment, and one of the best indications
that has yet been afforded of superior mental culture.

That this is not an erroneous estimate of the mental powers of a
finished debater, will be evident from a slight analysis of what he has
to achieve in the exercise of his art. He has, while his adversary is
speaking, to receive and retain upon his mind, the whole of his
argument,--separate its weak and strong points,--and call forth and
arrange those views and illustrations which are calculated to overthrow
and demolish it. This itself, even when performed in silence, is a
prodigious effort of mental strength; but when he commences to speak,
and to manage these, with other equally important operations of his own
mind at the same moment, the difficulty of succeeding is greatly
increased. When he begins to pour forth his refutation in an
uninterrupted flow of luminous eloquence;--meeting, combating, and
setting aside his opponent's statements and reasonings;--carefully
marking, as he goes along, the effect produced upon his hearers, and
adapting his arguments to the varying emotions and circumstances of the
audience;--withholding, transposing, or abridging the materials he had
previously prepared, or seizing new illustrations suggested by passing
incidents;--and all this not only without hesitation, and without
confusion, but with the most perfect composure and self-controul;--such
a man gives evidence of an energy, a grasp, a quickness of thought,
which, as an exhibition of godlike power in a creature, has scarcely a
parallel in the whole range of Nature's efforts. All kinds and degrees
of physical glory, in comparison with this, sink into insignificance.

It is but rare indeed that any country or age produces a Demosthenes, a
Pitt, a Thomson, or a Brougham; and such persons have hitherto been
considered as gifts of Nature, rather than the legitimate production of
educational exercises. But this we conceive to be a mistake. They may
perhaps have been self-taught, and self-exercised, as Demosthenes
confessedly was; but that teaching, and especially mental and oral
exercise, are necessary for the production of one of Nature's chief
ornaments, both analogy and experience abundantly shew.[8] Fluency in
the use of words is not enough,--copiousness of thought, such as may be
of use in the study, is not enough;--for Nature's work, of which we are
at present speaking, consists chiefly in the faculty of forming one
train of thoughts in the mind, at the same time that the individual is
giving expression to another. Every child, accordingly, who holds
conversation with his companion, is practising on a limited scale the
very exercise which, if carried out by regular gradations, would
ultimately lead to that excellence which we have above described. In
every case of free unconstrained conversation, the operation of this
principle of Nature is apparent; for the idea is present to the mind
some time before the tongue gives it utterance, and the person is
preparing a second idea, at the moment he is communicating the first.
Upon this simple principle the whole art of eloquence, when analyzed,
appears to depend. We shall therefore endeavour to trace its operation,
and the methods which Nature adopts for the purpose of perfecting it.

That this ability is altogether acquired, and depends wholly upon
exercise for its cultivation, is obvious in every stage of its progress,
but especially towards its commencement. When Nature first begins to
suggest to an infant the use of language, we perceive that it cannot
think and speak at the same moment. Long after it has acquired the
knowledge of words and names, and even the power of articulating them,
it utters but one syllable, or one word at a time. Its language, for a
while after it has acquired a pretty extensive acquaintance with nouns
and adjectives, is made up of single, or at most double words, with an
observable pause between each, as if, after uttering one, it had to
collect its thoughts and again prepare for a new effort, before it was
able to pronounce the next. This is the child's first step, or rather
the child's first attempt, in this important exercise; and it is
conspicuous chiefly by the want, even in the least degree, of that power
of which we have spoken. By and bye, however, the child is able to put
two syllables, or two words together, without the pause;--but not three.
That is a work of time, and that again has to become familiar, before
four, or more words be attempted. These, however, are at last mastered;
and he slowly acquires by practice the ability to utter a short
sentence, composed chiefly of nouns, adjectives, and verbs, without
interruption, and at last without difficulty.

In the process here described, we perceive the commencement of Nature's
exercises in training her pupil to the acquisition of this valuable
faculty. It consists chiefly, as we have said, in enabling the child by
regular practice to arrive at such a command of the mental faculties,
and the powers of articulation, as qualifies him to exercise both
apparently at the same moment. His mind is employed in preparing one set
of ideas, while the organs of speech are engaged in giving utterance to
another. He thinks that which he is about to speak, at the moment he is
speaking that which he previously thought; and if, as is generally
admitted, the mind cannot be engaged upon two things at the same moment,
there is here an instance of such a rapid and successive transition from
one to another, as obviously to elude perception.

The various means which Nature employs in working out this great end in
the young are very remarkable. We have seen that a child at first does
not possess the power of uttering even a word, while his thoughts are
engaged on any thing else. The powers of the mind must as it were be
concentrated upon that one word, till by long practice he can at last
think on one and utter another. The same difficulty of speaking and
thinking on different things is observable in his amusements; and Nature
appears to employ the powerful auxiliary of his play to assist him in
overcoming it. When a young child is engaged in any amusement which
requires thought, the inability of the mind to do double duty is very
evident. He cannot hear a question, nor speak a single sentence, and go
on with his play at the same time. If a question be asked, he stops,
looks up, hears, answers, and then perhaps collects his thoughts, and
again proceeds with his game as before; but for a long time he cannot
even hear, far less speak, and play at the same moment. When a child is
able to do this, it is a good sign of his having acquired considerable
mental powers.

The excitement of play, we have said, is one chief means which Nature
employs for the cultivation of this faculty, and it is peculiarly worthy
of attention by the Educationist. Every one must have observed the
strong desire which children have, during their more exhilarating games,
to exercise their lungs by shouting, and calling out, and giving
direction, encouragement, or reproof, to their companions. In all these
instances, the impetus of their play is not apparently stopt while they
speak, and every time that this takes place, they are promoting their
mental, as well as their physical health and well-being. The accuracy of
this remark is perhaps more conspicuous, although not more real, in the
less boisterous and more placid employment of the young. The lively
prattle of the girl, while constructing her baby-house; her playful
arrogation of authority and command over her playmates, and her
serio-comic administering of commendation or reproof in the assumed
character of "mistress" or "mother," are all instances of a similar
kind. A little attention to the matter will convince any one, that every
sentence uttered by a child while dressing a doll, or rigging a ship, or
cutting a stick, is really intended and employed by Nature in advancing
this great object. And we cannot help remarking, that the irksome
silence so frequently enjoined upon children during their play, or
during any species of active employment, is not only harsh and
unnecessary, but is positively hurtful. It is in direct opposition both
to the design and the practice of Nature. It is obstructing, or at least
neglecting the cultivation and the developement of powers, which are
destined to be a chief ornament of life; a source of honour and
enjoyment to the pupil himself, and ultimately a great benefit to

The cultivation of this faculty in adults, after they have emancipated
themselves from the discipline of Nature, is advanced or retarded by the
use or neglect of similar means. Accordingly we find, that in every
instance where the powers of the mind are actively, (not mechanically)
employed, while the individual is at the same time called on to exercise
his powers of speech and hearing on something else, this faculty of
extemporaneous speaking is cultivated, and rendered more easy and
fluent. Whereas, on the contrary, the most extensive acquaintance with
words, even when combined with much knowledge, has but little influence
in making a ready speaker. Many of the most voluble of our species
have but a very scanty vocabulary, and still less knowledge; while men
of extensive and profound learning, whose habits have been formed in the
study, are often defective even in common conversation, and utterly
unable to undertake with success the task of public extemporaneous
speaking. From this cause it is, that some of our ablest men, and our
greatest scholars, are necessitated to read that which they dare not
trust themselves to speak; while others, by a different practice, and
perhaps with fewer real attainments, feel no difficulty in arranging
their ideas, and delivering them at the same time with ease and fluency.
Hence it is also, that travelling, frequent intercourse with strangers,
debating societies, and above all, forensic pleadings, sharpen the
faculties, and give an ease and accuracy in thinking and speaking, which
are but rarely acquired in the same degree in any other way.

There is one particular feature in this department of Nature's teaching,
which is of so much importance both to the young and to adults, that it
ought not to be passed over without notice. It is the important fact,
that the highest attainments in this valuable accomplishment are within
the reach of almost every individual pupil, by a very moderate diligence
in the use of the proper means. The counterpart of this is equally true;
for without culture, either regular or accidental, no portion of it can
ever be acquired. This is abundantly proved both by experience and
analogy. Experience has shewn, that in every case, perseverance alone,
often without system, has made great and powerful speakers; and the
analogy between the expression of our feelings by _words_ and by
_music_, shews what proper training may do in both cases. Every one will
admit that it is easier to give expression to our feelings by the
natural organs of speech, than by the mechanical use of a musical
instrument; and if by making use of the proper means, and with a
moderate degree of diligence and perseverance, every man can be trained
to play dexterously on the violin, or the organ, and at the same moment
maintain a perfect command over the operations of his mind,--we may
reasonably conclude, from analogy, that with an equal, or even a smaller
degree of diligence, when the means have been equally systematized, the
most humble individual may be trained to manage the operations of his
mind, while he is otherwise making use of his _tongue_, as the other is
of his _fingers_.

But the opposite of this, as we have stated above, is equally true. For,
although a man may, by diligence and perseverance, attain a high degree
of perfection in the exercise of this faculty; yet, even the lowest must
be procured by the use of means. The art of thinking and speaking
different ideas at the same time, as we have proved, is not an
instinctive, but is wholly an acquired faculty, and must be attained by
exercise wherever it is possessed. We have instanced as examples the
case of the girl having at first to stop while dressing her doll, and
the boy while rigging his ship; but what we wish to notice here is, that
the principle is not peculiar to children, whose ideas are few, and
whose language is imperfect, but applies equally to adults, even of
superior attainments, and well cultivated minds. We have in part proved
this by the frequent defects of even learned men in conversation; but
there is good reason to conclude, that even these defects would have
been greater, if the few opportunities they have improved had been less
numerous. In short, it appears, that the successful uttering of but two
consecutive words, while the mind is otherwise engaged, must be acquired
even in the adult, by education or by discipline. This important fact in
education, might be demonstrated by numerous proofs, deduced from acts
which are commonly understood to depend altogether on habit, and where
the mind is obviously but little engaged. We shall take the case already
supposed, that of the fingering of musical instruments. The rapidity
with which the fingers in this exercise perform their office, would lead
us to pronounce it to be purely mechanical, and to suppose that the mind
was at perfect liberty to attend to any of the other functions of the
body, during the performance. But this is not the case; for although by
long practice, the operator has acquired the art of _thinking_ upon
various other subjects while playing, he finds upon a first trial, that
he is then totally unable to articulate two words in succession. Here
then is a case exactly parallel with that of the children who had to
stop to speak during their play; proving that it does not arise from the
lack of ideas, or a deficiency in words, but purely from want of
discipline and practice; because many musicians by practice, and by
practice alone, overcome the difficulty, and become able both to speak
and to play at the same time.

There is another circumstance connected with this part of our subject,
which is worthy of remark. A person who is playing on an instrument, and
who is desirous to speak, finds himself, without long practice, totally
unable to do so; but he may, if he pleases, sing what he has to say,
provided only that he modulate his voice to the tune he is playing. The
reason of this appears to be two-fold; first, that the mind, by
following the tune in the articulation of the words, is relieved in a
great measure from doing double duty; and secondly, and chiefly, because
the person has already acquired, by more or less practice, the faculty
of singing and playing at the same time. From this illustration, we
perceive the necessity that exists in education, of cultivating in the
young, by direct means and special exercises, this important faculty of
managing the thoughts and giving expression to them at the same moment.
It must be acquired by a course of mental discipline, which brings all
the elements of the principle into operation; the collecting and
managing of ideas, the chusing and arranging of words, and the giving of
them utterance, at the same time. That direct exercises of this kind are
necessary for the purpose, is obvious from the illustrations here given;
where we find, that although a person, while playing on an instrument,
may sing his words, he is yet unable to make the slightest deviation
from singing to speaking, without a long and laborious practice.

Here then we have been enabled to trace this supplementary process of
Nature in the education of her pupils, and to detect the great leading
principle or law, by which it is governed. The attainment itself is the
ready and fluent communication of our ideas to others; and the mode
employed by nature for arriving at it, appears to be the training of her
pupils to exercise their minds upon one set of ideas, while they are
giving expression to another. That the mind is actually engaged in two
different ways, at the same moment of time, it is not necessary for us
to suppose. It is sufficient for our purpose, that the operations so
rapidly succeed each other, as to appear to do so. The ability to
accomplish this, we have proved to be in every case an acquired habit,
and is never possessed, even in the smallest degree, without effort. It
is, in fact, the invariable result of exercise and education. The most
gifted of our species are frequently destitute of it; while very feeble
minds have been found to possess it, when by chance or design they have
employed the proper means for its attainment. What is wanted by the
Educationist therefore, is an exercise, or series of exercises, which
will enable him to imitate Nature, by causing his pupil to employ his
mind in preparing one set of ideas, while he is giving expression to
another. Such an exercise, upon whatever subject, will always produce,
in a greater or less degree, the effect which Nature by this
supplementary process intends to accomplish; that of giving the pupil
ease and fluency in conversation, and a ready faculty of delivering his
sentiments; while we have seen, by numerous illustrations, that it is at
least highly improbable that it ever can be acquired in any other way.
We have also demonstrated the impropriety of all unnecessary artificial
restrictions upon children while at their play, and of preventing their
speaking, calling out, and giving orders, encouragement, or commendation
to their companions during it. These illustrations and examples have
also pointed out to us the importance of encouraging the young to speak
or converse with their teachers or one another, while they are actively
employed at work, in their amusements, or in any other way in which the
mind is but partially engaged. Exercises of this kind in the domestic
circle, where they could be more frequently resorted to, would be of
great value in forwarding the mental capacities of the young, and might
be at least equally and extensively useful, as similar exercises
employed in the school. The consideration of suitable exercises for
advancing these ends, by which Nature may be successfully imitated in
this important part of her process, belongs to another department of
this Treatise, to which accordingly we must refer.


[8] Note G.


_Recapitulation of the Philosophical Principles developed in the
previous Chapters._

Before proceeding to the third and more practical part of this Treatise,
it will be of advantage here, shortly to review the progress we have
made in establishing the several educational principles, exhibited in
the operations of Nature, as it is upon these that the following
practical recommendations are to be entirely founded. In doing this, we
would wish to press upon the attention of the reader the important
consideration, that however much we may fail in what is to _follow_, the
principles which we have _already ascertained_, must still remain as
stationary landmarks in education, at which all future advances, by
whomsoever made, must infallibly set out. The previous chapters,
therefore, in so far as they have given a correct exposition of Nature's
modes of teaching, must constitute something like the model upon which
all her future imitators in education will have to work. There may be a
change of _order_, and a change of _names_, but the principles
themselves, in so far as they have been discovered, will for ever remain
unchanged and unchangeable.--It is very different, however, with what is
to _follow_, in which we are to make some attempts at imitation. The
principles which regulate the rapid movements of fish through water is
one thing; and the attempt to imitate these principles by the
ship-builder is quite another thing. The first, when correctly
ascertained, remain the unalterable standard for every future naval
architect; but the attempts at imitation will change and improve, as
long as the minds of men are directed to the perfecting of
ship-building. In like manner, the various facts in the educational
processes of Nature, in so far as they have been correctly ascertained
in the previous part of this Treatise, must form the unalterable basis
for every future improvement in education. These facts, or principles,
will very probably be found to form only a part of her operations;--but
as they do really form _a part_, they will become a nucleus, round which
all the remaining principles when discovered will necessarily
congregate. We shall here therefore endeavour very shortly to
recapitulate the several principles or laws employed by Nature in her
academy, so far as we have been able to detect them; as it must be upon
these that not only we, but all our successors in the improvement of
education, must hereafter proceed.

We have seen in a former chapter, that the educational processes of
Nature divide themselves distinctly into four different kinds. _First_,
the cultivation of the powers of the mind:--_Second_, the acquisition of
knowledge:--_Third_, the uses or application of that knowledge to the
daily varying circumstances of the pupil:--and _Fourth_, the ability to
communicate this knowledge and experience to others.

The _first_ department of Nature's teaching, that of cultivating the
powers of her pupil's mind, we found to depend chiefly, if not entirely,
upon one simple mental operation, that of "reiterating ideas;" and from
numerous examples and experiments it has been shewn, that wherever this
act of the mind takes place, there is, and there must be, mental
culture; while, on the contrary, wherever it does not take place, there
is not, so far as we can yet perceive, the slightest indication that the
mind has either been exercised or benefited.

The _second_ department of Nature's teaching, we have seen, consists in
inducing and assisting her pupils to acquire knowledge.--This object we
found her accomplishing by means of four distinct principles, which she
brings into operation in regular order, according to the age and mental
capacity of the pupil. These we have named the principle of "Perception
and Reiteration," which is the same as that employed in her first
process;--the principle which we have named "Individuation," which
always precedes and prepares for the two following;--there is then the
principle of "Association," or "Grouping," by which the imagination is
cultivated, and the memory is assisted;--and there is, lastly, the
principle of "Classification," or "Analysis," by which all knowledge
when received is regularly classified according to its nature; by which
means the memory is relieved, the whole is kept in due order, and
remains constantly at the command of the will.--These four principles,
so far as we have yet been able to investigate the processes of Nature,
are the chief, if not the only, means which she employs in assisting and
inducing the pupil to acquire knowledge; and which of course ought to be
employed in a similar way, and in the same order, by the teacher in the
management of his classes.

The _third_, and by far the most important series of exercises in
Nature's academy, we have ascertained, by extensive evidence, to be the
training of her pupils to a constant practical application of their
knowledge to the ordinary affairs of life.--These exercises she has
separated into two distinct classes; the one connected with the physical
and intellectual phenomena of our nature, and which is regulated by what
we have termed the "animal, or common sense;" and the other connected
with our moral nature, and regulated by our "moral sense," or
conscience. In both of these departments, however, the methods which
Nature employs in guiding to the practical application of the pupil's
knowledge are precisely the same, consisting of a regular gradation of
three distinct steps, or stages. These steps we have found to follow
each other in the following order. There is always first, some
fundamental truth, or idea--some definite part of our knowledge of which
use is to be made;--there is next an inference, or lesson, drawn from
that idea, or truth;--and there is, lastly, a practical application of
that lesson, or inference, to the present circumstances of the
individual. This part of Nature's educational process,--this
application, or use of knowledge, we have ascertained and proved to be
the great object which Nature designs by _all her previous efforts_.
This part of her work, when completed, forms in fact the great Temple of
Education,--all the others were but the scaffolding by which it was to
be reared.--This is the end; those were but means employed for attaining
it. In proof of this important fact we have seen, that when this object
is successfully gained, all the previous steps have been homologated and
confirmed; whereas, whenever this crowning operation is awanting, all
the preceding labour of the pupil becomes useless and vain, his
knowledge gradually melts from the memory, and is ultimately lost.

The _fourth_, or supplementary process in this educational course as
conducted by Nature, we found to consist in the training of her pupils
to an ability to communicate with ease and fluency to others the
knowledge and experience which they themselves had acquired.--This
ability, as we have shewn, is not instinctive, but is in every instance
the result of education. It is not always the accompaniment of great
mental capacity; nor is it always at the command of those who have
acquired extensive knowledge. Persons highly gifted in both respects,
are often greatly deficient in readiness of utterance, and freedom of
speech. On careful investigation we have seen, that it is attained only
by practice, and by one simple exercise of the mental powers, in which
the thoughts are engaged with one set of ideas, at the same moment that
the voice is giving expression to others. This faculty has been found to
be eminently social and benevolent, and intended, not so much for the
benefit of the individual himself as for the benefit of society. Nature,
accordingly, constrains mankind to do homage to eloquence when it is
employed for others, or for the public;--but strongly induces them to
look with pity or contempt on the person who is always speaking of or
for himself. These facts accordingly have led us to the important
conclusion, that learning and the possession of knowledge are not
intended merely for the person himself, but for the good of society; and
therefore, that education in every community ought to be conducted in
such a manner, that the attainments of each individual in it, shall
either directly or indirectly benefit the whole.

In these several departments of our mental constitution, and in the
principles or laws by which they are carried on, we have the great
thoroughfare,--the highway of education,--marked out, inclosed, and
levelled by Nature herself. Hitherto, in our examination of the several
processes in which we find her engaged, we have endeavoured strictly to
confine ourselves to the great general principles which she exhibits in
forwarding and perfecting them. We have not touched as yet on the
methods by which, in our schools, they may be successfully imitated; nor
have we made any enquiry into the particular truths or subjects which
ought there to be taught. These matters belong to another part of this
Treatise, and will be considered by themselves. And it is only necessary
here to observe, that as it is the _use_ of knowledge chiefly which
Nature labours to attain, it is therefore _useful knowledge_ which she
requires to be taught. This is a principle so prominently held forth by
Nature, and so repeatedly indicated and enforced, that in the school it
ought never for an hour to be lost sight of. The whole business of the
seminary must be practical; and the knowledge communicated must be
useful, and such as can be put to use. If this rule be attended to, the
knowledge communicated will be valuable and permanent;--but if it be
neglected, the pretended communications will soon melt from the memory,
and the previous labours of both teacher and pupil will be in a great
measure lost.

The existence of these several principles in education has been
ascertained by long experience and slow degrees;--and the accuracy of
the views which we have taken of them, has been rigorously and
repeatedly tested. No pains has been spared in projecting and conducting
such experiments as appeared necessary for the purpose; and it has been
by experience and experiment alone that their efficiency has been
established. Many of these experiments were conducted in public,--some
of them have for years been in circulation,--and the decisiveness of
their results has never been questioned. The several principles in
education which it was the object of these experiments to ascertain, are
here for the first time, collected and exhibited in their natural order;
and they are now presented to the friends of education with some degree
of confidence. Judging historically, however, from the experience of
others in breaking up new ground in the sciences, there is good reason
to believe, that the present Treatise goes but a short way in
establishing the science of education. There is yet much to be done; and
others, no doubt, will follow to complete it. But if confidence is to be
placed in history, it appears evident, that they must follow in the same
course, if ever they are to succeed. Nature is our only instructress;
and however much she may have hitherto been neglected, it is only by
following her leadings with a child-like docility, that improvement is
ever to be expected. By so following, however, success is certain. The
prospects of the science at the present moment, both as to its spread
and its improvement, are exceedingly cheering. The field, which is now
being opened up for the labours of the Educationist, is extensive and
inviting; and the anticipations of the philanthropist become the more
delightful, on account of the improvements likely to ensue for carrying
on the work. The errors and failings of former attempts will warn, while
every new discovery will direct in the labour. The virgin soil has even
yet in a great measure to be broken up; and if we shall be wise enough
to employ the implements provided for us by Nature herself, the present
generation may yet witness a rapid and abundant ingathering of blessings
for the world. This is neither a hasty nor a groundless speculation.
There are already abundant proofs to warrant us in cherishing it.
Numerous patches of ground have again and again, under serious
disadvantages, been partially cultivated; and each and all have
invariably succeeded, and produced the first fruits of a ripe, a rich,
and an increasing harvest.




_On the Exercises by which Nature may be imitated in cultivating the
Powers of the Mind._

In the educational processes of Nature, her first object appears to be
the cultivation of her pupil's mind; and this, therefore, ought also to
be the first concern of the parent and teacher.--The wisdom of this
arrangement is obvious. For as success in a great measure depends upon
the vigour and extent of those powers, their early cultivation will
render the succeeding exercises easy and pleasant, and will greatly
abridge the anxiety and labour of both teacher and scholar.

There is no doubt a great diversity in the natural capacities of
children; and phrenology, as well as daily experience shews, that
children who are apt in learning one thing, may be exceedingly dull and
backward in acquiring others. But after making every allowance for this
variety in the intellectual powers of children, it is well established
by experience, and repeated experiments have confirmed the fact,[9] that
the very dullest and most obtuse of the children found in any of our
schools, are really capable of rapid cultivation, and may, by the use of
proper means, be very soon brought to bear their part in the usual
exercises fitted for the ordinary children. A large proportion of the
dulness so frequently complained of by teachers arises, not so much from
any natural defect, or inherent mental weakness in the child, as from
the want of that early mental exercise,--real mental culture,--of which
we are here speaking. Whenever this dulness in a sane scholar continues
for any length of time, there is good reason to fear that it is owing to
some palpable mismanagement on the part of the parent or teacher. On
examination it will most likely be found, either that the pupil has had
exercises prescribed to him which the powers of his mind were as yet
incapable of accomplishing; or, if the exercises themselves have been
suitable, there has been more prescribed than he was able to overtake.
In either case the effect will be the same. The mind has been
unnaturally burdened, or overstretched; confusion of ideas and mental
weakness have been the consequence; and if so, the very attempt to keep
up with his companions in the class only tends to aggravate the evil.
Hence arises the propriety of following Nature in making the expansion
and cultivation of the powers of the mind our first object; and our
design in the present chapter is to examine into the means by which, in
the exercises of the school, she may be successfully imitated in the
operations which she employs for this purpose.

We have in our previous investigations seen, that the cultivation of the
mental powers is a work of extraordinary simplicity, depending entirely
upon one act of the mind,--the reiteration of ideas. We have proved, by
a variety of familiar instances, that wherever this act takes place, the
mind is, and must be exercised, and so far strengthened; while, on the
contrary, wherever it does not take place, there is neither mental
exercise, nor any perceptible accession of mental strength. It does not
depend upon the particular form of the exercise, whether it consists of
reading, hearing, writing, or speaking; but simply and entirely upon
the reality and the frequency of the reiteration of the included ideas
during it. This makes the cultivation and strengthening of the powers of
the mind a very simple and a very certain operation. For if the teacher
can succeed by any means in producing frequent and successive
repetitions of _this act_ of the mind in any of his pupils, Nature will
be true to her own law, and mental culture, and mental strength will
assuredly follow;--but, on the contrary, whenever in a school exercise
this act is awanting, there can be no permanent progression in the
education of the pupil, and no amelioration in the state of his mind.
The mechanical reading or repeating of words, for example, like the
fingering of musical instruments, may be performed for months or years
successively, without the powers of the mind being actively engaged in
the process at all; leaving the child without mental exercise, and
consequently without improvement.

In following out the only legitimate plan for the accomplishment of this
fundamental object, that of imitating Nature, the first thing required
by the teacher is an exercise, or series of exercises, by which he shall
be able _at his own will_ to enforce upon his pupils this important act
of the mind. If this object can be successfully attained, then the
proper means for the intellectual improvement of the child are secured;
but as long as it is awanting, his mental cultivation is either left to
chance, or to the capricious decision of his own will;--for experience
shews, that although a child may be compelled to read, or to repeat the
_words_ of his exercises, they contain no power by which the teacher can
ensure the reiteration of the _ideas_ they contain. The words may
correctly and fluently pass from the tongue, while the mind is actively
engaged upon something else, and as much beyond the reach of the teacher
as ever. But if the desiderated exercise could be procured, the power of
enforcing mental activity upon a prescribed subject would then remain,
not in the possession of the child, but would be transferred to the
teacher, at whose pleasure the mental cultivation of the pupil would
proceed, whether he himself willed it or no.

In the "catechetical exercise," as it has been called, and which has of
late years been extensively used by our best teachers, the desideratum
above described has been most happily and effectively supplied to the
Educationist. This valuable exercise may not perhaps be new;--but
certainly its nature, and its importance in education, till of late
years, has been altogether overlooked, or unknown. It differs from the
former mode of catechising, (or rather of using catechisms) in this,
that whereas a catechism provides an answer for the child in a set form
of words,--the catechetical exercise, having first _provided him with
the means_, compels him to search for, to select, and to construct an
answer for himself. For example, an announcement is given by his
teacher, or it is read from his book. This is the raw material upon
which both the teacher and the child are to work, and within the
boundaries of which the teacher especially must strictly confine
himself. Upon this announcement a question is founded,[10] which obliges
the child, before he can even prepare an answer, to reiterate in his own
mind, not the _words_,--for that would not answer his purpose,--but the
several _ideas_ contained in the sentence or truth announced. All these
ideas must be perceived,--they must pass in review before the mind,--and
from among them he must select the one required, arrange it in his own
way, and give it to the teacher entirely as his own idea, and clothed
altogether in his own words.

In the common method of making use of catechisms, the words of the
answer may be read, or they may be committed to memory, and may be
repeated with ease and fluency; while the ideas,--the truths they
contain,--may neither be perceived nor reiterated. In this there is
neither mental exercise, nor mental improvement;--and, what is worse,
without the catechetical exercise, the teacher has no means of knowing
whether it be so or not. By means of the catechetical exercise, on the
contrary, there can be no evasion,--no doubt as to the mental activity
of the pupil, and his consequent mental improvement. Its benefits are
very extensive; and in employing it the teacher is not only sure that
the ideas in the announcement have been perceived and reiterated, but
that a numerous train of useful mental operations must have taken place,
before his pupil could by any possibility return him an answer to his
questions. We shall, before proceeding, point out a few of these.

Let us then suppose that a child either reads, or repeats as the answer
to a question, the words, "Jesus died for sinners."--At this point in
the former mode of using a catechism, the exercise of the pupil stopped;
and the parent or teacher understanding the meaning of the sentence, and
clearly perceiving the ideas himself, usually took it for granted that
the child also did so, or at least at some future time would do so. This
was mere conjecture; and he had no means of ascertaining its certainty,
however important. It is at this point that the catechetical exercise
commences its operations. When the child has repeated the words, or when
the teacher for the first time announces them, the mind of the child may
be in a state very unfavourable to its improvement; but as soon as the
teacher asks him a question founded upon one or more of the ideas which
the announcement contains, and which he must answer without farther
help, the state of his mind is instantly and materially changed.
Hitherto he may have been altogether passive on the subject;--nay, his
mind while reading or repeating the words, may have been busily engaged
on something else, or altogether occupied with his companions or his
play;--but as soon as the teacher asks him "Who died?" there is an
instant withdrawal of the mind from every thing else, and an exclusive
concentration of its powers upon the ideas in the announcement. He must
think,--and he must think in a certain way, and upon the specific ideas
presented to him by the teacher,--before it is possible for him to
return an answer. It is on this account that this exercise is so
effective an instrument in cultivating the powers of the mind;--and it
is to the long series of exercises which take place in this operation,
that we are now calling the attention of the reader, that he may
perceive how closely this exercise follows in the line prescribed by
Nature, in creating occasions for the successive reiteration of
different ideas suggested by one question.

When, in pursuing the catechetical exercise, a question is asked from an
announcement, there is first a call upon the attention, and an exercise
of mind upon the _question_ asked, the words of which must be translated
by the pupil into their proper ideas, which accordingly he must both
perceive and understand. He has then to revert to the _ideas_ (not the
words) contained in the original announcement, the words of which are
perhaps still ringing in his ears; and these he must also perceive and
reiterate in his mind, before he can either understand them or prepare
to give an answer. At this point the child is necessarily in possession
of the ideas--the truths--conveyed by the announcement; and therefore at
this point one great end of the teacher has in so far been gained. But
the full benefit of the exercise, in so far as it is capable of fixing
these truths still more permanently on the memory, and of disciplining
the mind, has not yet been exhausted. After the pupil has reiterated in
his mind the ideas contained in the original sentence, or passage
announced, he has again to revert to the question of the teacher, and
compare it with the several ideas which the announcement contains. He
has then to chuse from among them,--all of them being still held in
review by the mind,--the particular idea to which his attention has been
called by the question;--and last of all, and which is by no means the
least as a mental exercise, he has to clothe this particular idea in
words, and construct his sentence in such a way as to make it both sense
and grammar. In this last effort, it is worthy of remark, children,
after having been but a short while subjected to this exercise, almost
invariably succeed, although they know nothing about grammar, and may
perhaps never have heard of the name.

But even this is not all. There has as yet been only one question asked,
and the answer to this question refers to only one idea contained in the
announcement. But it embraces at least three several ideas; and each of
these ideas, by the catechetical exercise, is capable of originating
other questions, perfectly distinct from each other, and each of which
gives rise to a similar mental process, and with equally beneficial
results, in exercising and strengthening the powers of the mind.

It is also here of importance to take notice of the additional benefits
that arise from the multiplying of questions upon one announcement. The
first question proposed from the announcement, brought the mind of the
child into immediate contact with all the ideas which it contained. They
are now therefore familiar to him; and he is perfectly prepared for the
second, and for every succeeding question formed upon it; and he
fashions the answers with readiness and zest. Every such answer is a
kind of triumph to the child, which he gives with ease and pleasure, and
yet every one of them, as an exercise of the mind, is equally beneficial
as the first. When the teacher therefore asks, "What did Jesus do?" and
afterwards, "For whom did Jesus die?" a little reflection will at once
shew, that a similar mental exercise must take place at each question,
in which the child has not only to reiterate the several original
ideas, but must again and again compare the questions asked, with each
one of them, choose out the one required, clothe it in his own language,
and in this form repeat it audibly to his teacher.

Before leaving this enquiry into the nature and effects of the
catechetical exercise, there are two circumstances connected with it as
a school-engine, which deserve particular attention. The first is, that
Nature has made this same reiteration of ideas, for the securing of
which this exercise is used, the chief means of conveying knowledge to
the mind; and the second is, the undissembled delight which children
exhibit while under its influence, wherever it is naturally and
judiciously conducted. With respect to the former of these
circumstances, it falls more particularly to be considered in another
chapter, and under a following head; but with respect to the
latter,--the delight felt in the exercise by the children
themselves,--it deserves here a more close examination.

Every one who has paid any attention to the subject must have observed
the life, the energy, the enjoyment, which are observable in a class of
children, while they are under the influence, and subjected to the
discipline of the catechetical exercise. This will perhaps be still more
remarkable, if ever they have had an opportunity of contrasting this
lively scene with the death-like monotony of a school where the exercise
is as yet unknown. Many can yet remember instances when it was first
introduced into some of the Sabbath schools in Scotland, and the
astonishment of the teachers at its instantaneous effects upon the mind
and conduct of their children. The whole aspect of the school was
changed; and the children, who had but a few minutes before been
conspicuous only for their apathy, restlessness, or inattention, were
instantly aroused to life, and energy, and delight. Similar effects in
some children are still witnessed; but, happily for education, the
first exhibition of it to a whole school is not so common. One striking
proof of the novelty and extent of its effects upon the pupils, and of
the vivid contrast it produced with that to which the teachers had at
that time been accustomed, is afforded by the fact, that serious
objections were sometimes made to its introduction, by well-meaning
individuals, on account of its breaking in, as they said, upon the
proper devotional solemnity of the children;--as if the apathy of
languor and weariness was identical with reverence, and mental energy
and joyous feelings were incompatible with the liveliest devotion. These
opinions have now happily disappeared; and the catechetical exercise is
not now, on that account, so frequently opposed. Christians now
perceive, that by making these rough places smooth, and the crooked ways
straight for the tottering feet of the lambs of the flock, they are
following the best, as it is the appointed means, of "making ready a
people prepared for the Lord."

To the teacher, especially, it must be a matter of great practical
importance, to perceive clearly the cause why this exercise is so
fascinating to the young, as well as so beneficial in education. The
cause, when we analyze all the circumstances, is simply this, that it
resembles, in all its leading characteristics, those amusements and
pastimes of which children are so fond. In other words, the prosecution
of the catechetical exercise with the young, produces in reality the
same effects as a game would do if played with their teacher. It brings
into action, and it keeps in lively operation, all those mental
elements, which, in ordinary cases, constitute their play; and the
effects of course are nearly similar. We shall direct the reader's
attention to this curious fact for a moment.

It is easy to perceive, that the pleasure and happiness experienced by a
child during his play, arise altogether from the _state of his mind_, to
which the physical exercises and amusements only conduce. When this
mental satisfaction is examined, we find it to consist chiefly of two
elements,--that of active thought, and that of self-approbation. The
first,--that of active thought, or the reiteration of ideas, we have
before pointed out and explained, as it is illustrated in their play,
and in the pleasure they take in hearing stories, reading riddles,
dressing dolls, and similar acts; and it is only here necessary to add,
that their desire of congregating together for amusement has its origin
in a similar cause. New ideas stimulate more powerfully to active
thought; and children soon find, and insensibly draw the lesson, that
the aggregate of new ideas is always enlarged by an increase of the
number of persons who supply them. Two children will play with the same
number of toys for a longer time, without tiring, than if they were
alone;--and three or four would, in the same proportion, increase the
interest and prolong the season of activity. But as soon as the
reiteration of the ideas suggested by their game becomes languid or
difficult, their play for the time loses its charms, and the fascination
is gone. That it is the cessation of active thought, which is the chief
cause of their play ceasing to please, is proved from the circumstance,
that if another interesting companion shall be added to their number, or
if any thing shall occur to renew this operation,--the reiteration of
ideas,--upon the mind, the same degree of interest, and to a
corresponding extent, is immediately felt, and the play is resumed. Now,
the catechetical exercise is in reality the same operation in another
form. The questions of the teacher excite the pupil to the same kind of
active thought as that which gives relish to his play; and, while the
teacher confines himself within the limits of the announcement, the
mental excitement is active, but moderate, and always successful.

This leads us to observe the influence which the catechetical exercise
exerts in affording means for that self-approbation, or sense of merit,
which constitutes another element of delight to a child during his play.
All must have observed the beneficial effects of this principle in
children, as an incitement to emulation and good conduct. It is not only
perceptible in the love of approbation from their superiors, but in
their desire to excel at all times. We see it in the pleasure felt by
the child when he outstrips his fellows in the race,--when he catches
his companion at "hide and seek,"--when he finds the hidden article at
"seek and find,"--in winning a game, expounding a riddle, or gaining a
place in his class. In all these instances there is a feeling of pure
satisfaction and delight;--a feeling of self-estimation, which is at
once the guardian and the reward of virtue. Now, when the catechetical
exercise is conducted in its purity,--that is, when the teacher keeps
strictly to the announcement, without wandering where the child cannot
follow him,--the answers are invariably within the limits of the child's
capacity;--they are answered successfully; and every answer is a subject
of triumph. He has a delightful consciousness of having overcome a
difficulty, deserved approbation, and made an advance in the pathway of
merit. When properly conducted, therefore, the catechetical exercise
becomes to the pupils a succession of victories; and it imparts all that
delight, softened and purified, which he experiences in excelling his
companion, or in winning a game.--These are the reasons why the
catechetical exercise is so much relished by the young, and why it has
succeeded so powerfully, not only in smoothing the pathway of education,
but also in shortening it.

From a careful consideration of all these circumstances, we are led to
conclude, that the catechetical exercise does, in a superior degree,
fulfil all the stipulations required for imitating Nature, in exciting
to the reiteration of ideas by children, and thus disciplining and
cultivating the powers of their minds. We might also have remarked,
that another advantage arising from persevering in this exercise, is the
arresting of the attention of the children, and successfully training
them to hear and understand through life the oral communications of
others;--but we hasten to consider the time and the order in which this
exercise should be made use of in schools.

Nature intends, that the cultivation and strengthening of the powers of
the mind shall in every case precede those exercises in which their
strength is to be tried. In infants and young children we perceive this
cultivation and invigorating of the mind going on, long before these
powers are to be taxed even for their own preservation. The child is no
doubt putting them to use; but in every such case it is voluntary, and
not compulsory,--a matter of choice on the part of the child, and not of
necessity. The infant, or even the child, is never required to take care
of itself, to clothe itself, to wash itself, or even to feed itself. To
require it to do so before the mind could comprehend the nature and the
design of the particular duty, would be both unreasonable and cruel.
This being the case, the exercises of the nursery and the school must be
regulated in a similar manner, and follow the same law. The due
cultivation of the mind, like the due preparation of the soil, must
always precede the sowing of the seed. If this principle in Nature be
duly attended to, the seeds of knowledge afterwards cast into the soil
thus broken up and prepared, will be readily received and nourished to
perfection; but if the soil be neglected, both the seed and the labour
will be lost, the anticipations of the spring and summer will end in
delusion, and the folly of the whole proceeding will be shewn by a
succession of noxious weeds, and at last by an unproductive harvest.

The evils which must necessarily result from thus running counter to
Nature in this first part of her educational proceedings, may be aptly
illustrated by the very common custom of beginning a child's education
by teaching it to read. It would perhaps be difficult to convince many
that this custom is either unnatural or improper. We shall not attempt
here to _argue_ the matter, but shall merely state a fact which they
cannot deny, and which will answer the purpose we think much better than
an argument.--To teach the art of reading was wont to require the labour
of several months, sometimes years, before the perusal of a book could
be managed by the child with any degree of ease,--and even then, without
any thing approaching to satisfaction or pleasure. And even yet,
although the error has in some measure been perceived of late years, yet
the art of reading by the young, still requires several months'
attendance at school, with corresponding labour to the teacher, and
great irritation and unhappiness to the child. But experience has
established the fact, that, by acting on the principle of previous
preparation which we are here enforcing, and by calling into operation
the principle of individuation formerly explained, the whole drudgery of
teaching a child to read is got over in a week,--sometimes in a day; and
this with much more ease and satisfaction, than could have been done by
a thousand lessons while his mind was unprepared.[11]

The accumulation of labour, and the loss of precious time by this
non-observance of the dictates of Nature, are in themselves serious
evils; but they are not by any means so great as some others which
almost invariably accompany this unnatural mode of proceeding with the
young. Many who have nominally been _taught to read_, are still quite
unable to _understand by reading_. Those who have heard chapters read by
families in the country, "verse about," will at once understand what we
here mean; and even in towns and cities where newspapers and low-priced
books are more numerous and more tempting, it often requires long
practice before the emancipated child can read these publications so
readily and intelligently as they are intended to be. It is another, and
an entirely different course of learning to which he subjects himself,
when he labours to acquire the capacity of understanding the words that
he _reads_, as readily as the words that he _hears_. Where the
inducements to this are sufficiently powerful, the ability is no doubt
_at last_ acquired;--but where these stimulants are awanting, the
difficulty of understanding by reading has by the previous habit become
so great, that reading is gradually disused, and at last forgotten.

Many are at a loss to account for this; but it is easily explained on
the above principles. To teach a child to read, before his mind is
capable of understanding, or of reiterating the ideas conveyed by the
words he is reading, is to train him to this habit of reading
mechanically;--that is, of reading without understanding. He gradually
acquires the habit of pronouncing the words which he traces with the
eye, while the mind is busily engaged upon something else; in the same
manner that a person acquires the habit of thinking, and even of
speaking, while knitting a stocking, or sewing a seam. This habit is
confirmed by constant practice; and then, the difficulty of getting off
the habit is all but insurmountable. This difficulty will be best
understood by the experience of those who have been during some time of
their life compelled to abandon a habit after it was thoroughly
confirmed;--or by those who will but try the difficulty of persevering
to do something with the left hand, which has hitherto been done with
the right. A very little consideration will shew, that when this habit
of reading mechanically has once been established, it will require, like
an improper mode of holding the pen in writing, ten-fold more labour and
self-denial to _remedy_ the evil, than it would have taken at first to
_prevent_ it, by learning to do the thing properly and perfectly.

Much therefore depends upon the early and persevering use of the
catechetical exercise for cultivating a child's mind, before beginning
to teach it the art of reading, or requiring it to make use of the
powers of the mind on subjects which these powers are as yet incapable
of comprehending. By proper _preliminary_ exercises, the powers of the
mind will be gradually expanded; ideas of every different kind, both
individually and in connection with each other, will become familiar;
the design of language in receiving and communicating truth will by
degrees be practically understood; and, by means of the catechetical
exercise, it will be gradually and successfully practised. These are
obviously the means by which the present crooked ways in the child's
early progress in education are to be made straight, and the rough and
difficult paths which he has had so long to tread, may now be made both
easy and smooth.[12]

The effects of the catechetical exercise, and its uniform beneficial
results, have given sufficient evidence of its being a close imitation
of Nature in this part of her educational process. Its success indeed
has been invariable, even when employed by those who remained
unconscious of the great principles by which that success was to be
regulated. The observations and experiments employed to ascertain in
some measure the extent of its efficiency, have uniformly been
satisfactory, and to a few of these we shall here very shortly advert.

The first case of importance, which came under our notice, and to which
we think it advisable to allude, is that of Mary L. who, about the year
1820, resided in Lady Yester's parish in Edinburgh. This girl, when her
name was taken up for the Local Sabbath Schools in that parish, was
about seven or eight years of age, and in respect to mental capacity,
appeared to be little better than an idiot. She could not comprehend the
most simple idea, if it related to any thing beyond the household
objects which were daily forced upon her observation, and which had
individually become familiar to the senses; and was unable to receive
any instruction with the other children, however young. The catechetical
exercise was adopted with her, as with the other scholars; and although,
for a long period, she was unable to _collect knowledge_, yet the
constant discipline to which the powers of the mind were thus subjected,
had the happiest effect in bringing them into tone, and at last giving
her the command of them. The comprehending of a simple truth when
announced, became more and more distinct, and the answering of the
corresponding questions, became gradually more correct and easy. At a
very early period she began to relish the exercises of the school; and
although these occurred only on the Sundays, she continued rapidly to
improve; till, in the course of a few years, she was able to join the
higher classes of the children, and made a respectable appearance among
her companions, at those times when they were submitted to
examination.--When these schools were broken up, no stranger could have
remarked any difference between Mary L. and an ordinary child of the
same age.

A similar instance occurred more recently in the case of two sisters,
(Margaret and Mary J.) the condition of whose minds originally was
better, although not much, than that of Mary L. At the respective ages
of six and eight years, these sisters could scarcely receive or
comprehend the simplest idea not connected with their daily ordinary
affairs. For some years they had no more teaching, or regular mental
exercise, than two hours weekly on the Sundays, and during that period
they were, in regard to mental capacity, advancing, but still nearly
alike. The eldest (Margaret,) was then removed to another class, the
teacher of which dedicated another evening during the week for the
benefit of her scholars. The consequence of this apparently slight
addition to the mental exercise of this girl soon became apparent; and
in the course of a short time, the powers of Margaret's mind not only
advanced beyond those of her sister's, but equalled at least those of
children of the same age, who had not enjoyed similar opportunities of
improvement. Her sister Mary, who continued to enjoy only the two hours
on Sunday, advanced proportionally in mental strength;--and before she
left the district in which the school was situated, her original
incapacity could scarcely have been credited by a stranger. In proof of
this, it may be added, that long after she had left the parish, the
writer found her by accident in the school which she attended after
removing, examined her with the other children, and made some strict and
searching enquiries concerning her. The report of her teacher was
exceedingly satisfactory; and, without knowing the reason of these
enquiries, declared, that Mary J. was one of her best scholars. Before
leaving this notice of these two children, there is a circumstance which
may perhaps be worthy of recording. In Margaret's countenance there had
gradually appeared, latterly, that which to a stranger gave all the
ordinary indications of intellect, and rather superior intelligence;
while in Mary's case, at the same period, there continued to be much of
that vacancy of look, and stupid stare, indicative rather of what she
was, than of what she had become. That also, however, was gradually

We shall advert only to one other instance, less remarkable perhaps, and
certainly not so decisive, on account of the shortness of the time
during which the experiment was continued. In the opinion of the
honourable and venerable examinators, however, it was considered as
sufficiently decisive, and of much public importance. Its application to
prison discipline may ultimately be of value, where prisoners are
confined but for short periods, and where the cultivation of the mind,
and the growing capacity to receive and retain religious truth are
objects of importance.

In the experiment in 1828, made before the Lord Provost, Principal,
Professors, and Clergymen of Edinburgh, in the County Jail, a class of
criminals which had been formed three weeks before, and exercised one
hour daily, were thoroughly and individually examined without
intermission during nearly three hours. Our present extract from the
Report of that Experiment refers, not to the amount of knowledge
acquired by these persons during these three weeks, but to the capacity
which, at the end of that time, they were found to possess of acquiring
every sort of knowledge. This experiment was so far imperfect, as the
Examinators had no means of ascertaining the true state of their minds,
previous to the commencement of their exercises. But having, upon
enquiry found from the governor of the prison, that there had been no
selection, that all the individuals in the ward had been taken, and that
at the commencement of the experiment, they formed a fair sample of the
prisoners commonly under his charge,--the progress of this mental
cultivation during that short period, became a special object of
examination by the Reverend and learned individuals who conducted it.
Their Report of the Experiment bears, that "these individuals had been
taken without any regard to their abilities, and former acquirements,
and formed a fair average of the usual prisoners." In endeavouring to
ascertain the grasp of mind which these individuals possessed, and the
readiness with which they received and retained whatever was, even for
the first time, communicated to them, "it was mentioned, that a
gentlemen on the previous day, in order to try the capacity of mind
which they had attained, desired Mr Gall to catechise them upon a
section, consisting of fourteen verses, which they had not seen before,
and that, after just ten minutes' examination, one woman, who could not
read, repeated the whole distinctly in her own words. Dr Brunton
proposed, for a similar experiment, the parable of the 'talents,' with
which none was acquainted except one woman, who was consequently not
permitted to answer. With its being only read to them, and with a few
minutes' catechising, they perceived its various circumstances, and were
able to enumerate them in detail. This exercise demonstrated the
capacity of attention, and the power of analyzing and laying hold of
circumstances, which they had reached, as well as the indisputable
superiority of this System, in unfolding and strengthening the mental
faculties, even in adults."

"The writer of the Report," it is added, "was not acquainted with the
extent of their acquirements when Mr Gall commenced his operations; but
judging from the examination, and from his knowledge of the contents of
the books taught, he has no hesitation in averring, that the answers
which they gave, arose entirely from information communicated by them.
And when he reflects that their answers, being clothed in their own
words, guaranteed the fact, that it was _the ideas_ upon which they had
seized, and that their knowledge participated in no degree of rote, the
conviction to his mind is irresistible, that the universal application
of the Lesson System to Prison Discipline, and to adults everywhere,
would be followed by effects, incalculably precious to the individuals
themselves, and to the improving of society in general."

Numerous other instances might be adduced in proof of the efficiency of
this method of attempting to imitate Nature in this first part of her
educational process, who will always be faithful in adhering to her own
laws, and countenancing her own work. These however may suffice;--and it
ought not to escape observation, that in two of the cases first alluded
to, the young persons enjoyed only two hours' instruction in the week,
and these not divided, but continuously given at one time. For this
reason, it might have been feared, that the benefits then received would
have been lost, or neutralized, by the variety of objects or amusements
which must have intervened during the week between the lessons. But it
was not so. And we may here remark, that if with all these
disadvantages, so much good was really done in cultivating the powers of
the mind by this exercise, what may we not expect by the enlightened,
regular, and daily application of the same powerful principles in our
ordinary schools, when the teacher shall know where the virtue of the
weapon which he wields really lies, and when the nature of the material
he is called to work upon is also better understood. Every exercise and
every operation in the school will then be made to "tell;" and every
moment of the pupils' attendance will be improved. In these
circumstances, we are far within the limits of the truth when we say,
that more real substantial education will then be communicated in one
month, than it has been usual to receive by the labours of a whole year.

From what has been already ascertained, we are fully warranted in making
the following remarks.

1. From the above facts we can readily ascertain the cause, why some
exercises employed in education are so much relished by the young, and
so efficient in giving strength and elasticity to the mind; while
others, on the contrary are so inefficient, so irksome, and sometimes so
intolerable. Every exercise that tends to produce active thought,--the
"reiteration of ideas,"--is natural, and therefore, not only promotes
healthful mental vigour, but is also exciting and delightful; while, on
the contrary, whenever the mind is fettered by the mere decyphering of
words, or the repeating of sounds, without reiterating ideas, the
exercise is altogether unnatural, and must of course be irritating to
the child, and barren of good.

2. By a due consideration of the above principles, we see the reason why
mental arithmetic, though it may not communicate any knowledge, is yet
productive of considerable mental vigour. These exercises compel the
young to a species of voluntary thought, the reiteration in the mind of
the powers of numbers; and although the result of the particular
calculations which are then made, may never again be of any service to
the pupil, yet the consequent exercise of mind is beneficial. It should
never be forgotten, however, that this exercise of mind upon _numbers_
is altogether an artificial operation, and is on this account, neither
so efficient nor so pleasant as the reiteration of moral or physical
truths. The same degree of mental exercise, brought into operation upon
some useful fact, where the imagination as well as the understanding,
can take a part, would at once be more natural, more efficient, more
pleasant, and more useful.

3. From the nature and operation of the above principle, also, we can
perceive in what the efficiency of Pestalozzi's "Exercises on Objects,"
consists.--When a child is required to tell you the colour and the
consistence of milk, qualities which have all along been familiar to
him, it conveys to him no knowledge; but it excites to observation and
active thought,--to the "reiteration of ideas;"--and for this reason it
is salutary. But it is still equally true, as in the former case, that
the same degree of mental exercise, brought into operation upon some
useful practical truth, would be at least equally useful as a mental
stimulant, and much more beneficial as an educational exercise.

4. From the nature of this great fundamental principle in mental
cultivation, as consisting in the reiteration of ideas, and not of
words, we have a key by which we can satisfactorily explain the
remarkable, and hitherto unaccountable fact, that many persons who, in
youth and at school, have been ranked among the dullest scholars, have
afterwards become the greatest men. An active mind, in exact proportion
to its vigour, will powerfully struggle against the unnatural thraldom
of mere mechanical verbal exercises. The mind in a healthful state will
not be satisfied with words, which are but the medium of ideas, because
ideas alone are the natural food of the mind. Till the powers of the
mind, therefore, are sufficiently enfeebled by time and perseverance, it
will struggle with its fetters, and it will be repressed only by
coercion. Minds naturally weak, or gradually subdued, may and do submit
to this artificial bondage,--this unnatural drudgery; but the vigorous
and powerful mind, under favourable circumstances, spurns the trammels,
and continues to struggle on. It may be a protracted warfare,--but it
must at last come to a close; and it is not till the pupil has emerged
from this mental dungeon, and has had these galling fetters fairly
knocked off, that the natural elasticity and strength of his mind find
themselves at freedom, with sufficient room and liberty to act. The
impetus then received, and the delight in the mental independence then
felt, have frequently led to the brightest results. Hence it is, that
the reputed dunce of the school, has not unfrequently become the
ornament of the senate.

Lastly, we would remark, that from the facts here enumerated, we derive
a good test by which to try every new exercise proposed for training the
young, and for cultivating the powers of the mind. If the exercise
recommended compels the child to active thought,--to the voluntary
exercise of his own mind upon useful ideas,--that exercise, whatever be
its form, will, to that extent at least, be beneficial. And if, at the
same time, it can be associated with the acquisition of knowledge, with
the application of knowledge, or with the ready communication of
knowledge,--all of which, as we have seen, are concomitants in Nature's
process,--it will, in an equal degree, be valuable and worthy of
adoption. But if, on the contrary, the exercise may be performed without
the necessity of voluntary thought, or the reiteration of ideas by the
mind, however plausible or imposing it may appear, it is next to
certain, that although such an exercise may be sufficiently burdensome
to the child, and cause much labour and anxiety to the teacher, it will
most assuredly be at least useless, if not injurious.


[9] See the Fifth Public Experiment in Education, conducted before Sir
Thomas Kirkpatrick, and the clergy and teachers of Dumfries, in the
month of October 1833.

[10] Note K.

[11] Note H.

[12] For the methods of employing this exercise and the books best
adapted for it, see Note I.


_On the Methods by which Nature may be imitated in the Pupil's
Acquisition of Knowledge; with a Review of the Analogy between the
Mental and Physical Appetites of the Young._

The second step in the progress of Nature's pupil is the acquisition of
knowledge.--This has always been considered a chief object in every
system of education; and the discovery of the most efficient means by
which it may be accomplished, must be a matter of great importance.

In our remarks upon this subject in a previous chapter, we have shewn,
that Nature in her operations employs four distinct principles for
accumulating knowledge, for retaining it upon the memory, and for
keeping it in readiness for use at the command of the will. There are,
_First_, the "reiteration of ideas" by the mind, without which there can
be no knowledge; _Secondly_, the principle of "Individuation," by which
the knowledge of objects and truths is acquired one by one; _Thirdly_,
the principle of "Grouping," or Association, in which the mind views as
one object, what is really composed of many; and, _Fourthly_, the
principle of "Analysis," or Classification, in which the judgment is
brought into exercise, the different portions of our knowledge are
arranged and classified under different heads and branches, and the
whole retained in order at the command of the will, when any portion of
it is required.--Our object now is to consider, what means are within
the reach of the parent and the teacher, by which Nature in these
several processes may be successfully imitated, while they endeavour to
communicate the elements of knowledge to the young.

Ideas being the only proper food of the mind, Nature has created in the
young an extraordinary appetite and desire for their possession. There
is a striking analogy in this respect, between the strengthening of the
body by food, and the invigorating of the mind by knowledge; and before
proceeding to detail the methods by which the parent or the teacher may
successfully break down and prepare the bread of knowledge for their
pupils in imitation of Nature, it will be of advantage here to consider
more particularly some of the circumstances connected with this
instructive analogy. By tracing the likeness so conspicuously held out
to us in this analogy by Nature herself, we shall be greatly assisted in
evading the bewildering and mystifying influence of prejudice, and the
reader will be much better prepared to judge of the value of those means
recommended for nourishing and strengthening the mind by knowledge, when
he finds them to correspond so exactly with similar principles employed
by Nature for the nourishing and strengthening of the body by food. We
shall by this means, we hope, be able to detect some of those fallacies
which have long tended to trammel the exertions, and to prevent the
success of the teacher in his interesting labours.

The first point of analogy to which we would advert, is the vigour and
activity of the mental appetite in the young, which corresponds so
strikingly with the frequent and urgent craving of their bodily appetite
for food.--The desire of food for the body, and the desire of knowledge
for the mind, are alike restless and insatiable in childhood; and a
similar amount of satisfaction and pleasure is the consequence, whenever
these desires are prudently gratified. That the desire for knowledge in
the young is often weakened, and sometimes destroyed, is but too true;
but this is the work of man, not of Nature. It will accordingly be found
on investigation, with but few exceptions, that wherever the general
appetite of the child, either for mental or bodily food, becomes languid
or weak, it is either the effect for disease or of some grievous abuse.

Another point of analogy consists, in the necessity of the personal
active co-operation of the child himself in receiving and digesting his
food.--There is no such thing in Nature as a child being fed and
nourished by proxy. His food must be received, digested, and assimilated
by his own powers, and by the use of his own organs, else he will never
be fed. In the same way, the food for his mind can benefit him only in
so far as he himself is the active agent. He must himself receive,
reiterate in his own mind, and commit to the keeping of his memory,
every idea presented to him by his teacher. No one can do this for
him;--he must do it himself. In a family, the parent may provide, dress,
and communicate the food to the child,--but he can do no more; and
similar is the case with respect to the mental food provided by the
teacher. He may no doubt select the most appropriate kinds,--he may
simplify it,--he may break it down into morsels;--but his pupils, if
they are to learn, must learn for themselves. When a pupil, to save
himself trouble, tries to evade the learning of a preliminary lesson, or
when the teacher winks at the evasion by performing the exercise for
him, it is as absurd as for a parent to eat the child's food, and expect
at the same time that his boy is to be nourished by it. If the mental
food be too strong for the child, something more simple must be provided
for him; but to continue to administer knowledge which the pupil does
not comprehend, and force the strong mental food of an adult upon the
tender capacities of a child, is an error of the most mischievous kind.
It prevents the mind from acting at all, without which there can be no
improvement. The mind must wield its own weapons if ignorance is to be
dislodged; and if the child is to advance at all, he must overcome the
difficulties that lie in his way by the exertion of his own powers. His
teacher may no doubt direct him as to the best and the easiest way of
accomplishing his object; but that is all. The pupil must in every case
perform the exercise for himself.

This leads us to notice another point of analogy in this case, which is,
the necessity of adapting the food to the age and capacities of those
who are to receive it.--There is in the mental, as well as in the
physical nourishment provided for our race, milk for the weak, as well
as meat for the strong; and it is necessary in both cases that the kind
and the quantity be carefully attended to. In the case of the strong,
there is less danger; because, with regard both to the mental and bodily
food, Nature has so ordered matters, that the food which is best adapted
for the weak, will also nourish the strong; but the food adapted for the
strong is never suitable, and is often poisonous to the weak. There must
therefore be, in all cases where the young are concerned, as careful a
selection of the mental food, as there is of the food for the body; and
the parent or teacher should, in all cases, present only such subjects,
and such ideas to his pupils, as the state of their faculties, or the
progress of their knowledge, enables them to understand and apply.

Another striking point of analogy between mental and bodily nourishment,
is to be found in the effects of repletion, when too great a quantity of
food is communicated at one time.--As the increase of a child's bodily
strength does not depend upon the mere quantity of food forced into his
stomach, but upon that portion only which is healthfully digested and
assimilated; so in like manner, the amount of a child's knowledge will
not correspond to the number of ideas forced upon his attention by the
teacher, but to those only which have been reiterated by the mind, and
committed by that process to the keeping of the memory. In both cases,
the evil of repletion is two-fold; there is the waste of food and of
labour, while the strength and the growth of the child, instead of being
promoted, are retarded and diminished. The physical appetite gains
strength, by moderate exercise; but it is palled and weakened by every
instance of repletion. The desire for food is never for any length of
time at rest, so long as the stomach is kept in proper tone by moderate
and frequent feeding; and the quantity of food which a healthy child
will in these circumstances consume, is often surprising. But whenever
the stomach is gorged, then restlessness, uneasiness, and not
unfrequently disease, are the consequences. The digestive powers are
weakened, the tone of the stomach is relaxed, and, instead of the
healthful craving for food which should occur at the proper interval,
the appetite is destroyed, and food of every kind is nauseated.--Exactly
similar is the case with the mental appetite. The natural curiosity of
children, or, in other words, their desire of information, before it is
checked or overloaded by mismanagement, is almost insatiable; and the
astonishing amount of knowledge which they usually acquire between the
ages of one and three years, while under the guidance of Nature, has
been formerly alluded to. But this desire of information, and this
capacity for receiving it, are by no means confined to that early
period of their lives. The same appetite for knowledge would increase
and acquire additional strength, were it but properly directed, or
furnished with moderate and suitable means of gratification. But when a
parent or teacher impatiently attempts to force it upon the child more
rapidly than he can receive it,--that is, than he can reiterate it in
his mind for himself,--he not only irritates and harasses the child, but
his attempt neutralizes the effect of the ideas which the child would
otherwise pleasantly and efficiently have received. Every such attempt
to do more than enough greatly weakens the powers of the pupil's mind,
and discourages him from any after attempt to increase his knowledge.

As a general maxim in the education of the young, it may here be
observed, that as long as the understanding of a child remains clear,
and he can distinctly perceive the truths which are communicated to him,
he will find himself pleasantly and profitably employed, and will soon
acquire a habit of distinct mental vision;--the powers of his mind will
be rapidly expanded and strengthened, and he will receive and retain the
knowledge communicated to him with ease and with pleasure. But when, on
the contrary, he is overtasked, and more ideas are forced upon his
attention than his capacity can receive, the mind becomes disturbed and
confused, the mental perception becomes cloudy and indistinct, and all
that is communicated in these circumstances is absolutely lost. If the
parent or teacher insists on the pupil persevering in his mental meal,
in the hope that things will get better, we can easily, from the present
analogy, perceive the fallacy of such a hope. Perseverance will only
create additional perplexity; the whole powers of the child's mind will
become more and more enfeebled, or totally prostrated; the labour of the
teacher will be lost; and he will find his pupil now, and for some time
afterwards, much less able to take a clear and distinct view of any
subject than he was before.

There is yet one other point of analogy between the supply of food for
the body and the mind, to which we must also allude. It is to be found
in the baneful, and often destructive, effects of unnatural stimulants
applied to the mental appetite, which strikingly correspond in their
effects to the pernicious habit of supplying stimulants to the young in
their ordinary food.--Stimulants will no doubt, in both cases, produce
for the time additional excitement;--but they are neither natural nor
necessary. In all ordinary cases, Nature has made ample provision for
the supposed want, of which the craving--the natural and healthy
craving--of children for knowledge and for food, gives ample testimony.
To counteract or to weaken this natural desire would be improper;--but
artificially to _increase_ it is always dangerous. The reason is
obvious; for the excitement thus caused being unnatural, it is always
temporary; but its pernicious effects very soon become extensive and
permanent. Every physician knows, that the habitual use of stimulants in
the food of the young, weakens the tone of the stomach, palls the
appetite, creates a disrelish for plain and wholesome food, and
frequently destroys the powers of digestion for ever after. Very similar
are the effects of unnatural stimulants to the mental appetite in
training and teaching the young, when these stimulants are habitually,
or even frequently administered. Their curiosity,--their appetite for
knowledge,--is naturally so vigorous, that the repetition, or the
reading of any story, however commonplace or uninteresting to us, gives
them the sincerest pleasure, provided only that they understand and can
follow it. This is a most wise and beneficent provision of Nature, of
which parents and teachers should be careful to take advantage. It is
because of this disposition in children, that in all ordinary cases, the
simplest narrative or anecdote in ordinary life, may be successfully
employed in giving them mental strength, and in communicating permanent
moral instruction. But whenever unnatural and injudicious excitements
are used in their instruction, and the child's imagination has been
stimulated and defiled by the ideas of giants and ogres, fairies and
ghosts, the whole natural tone of the mind is destroyed, plain and even
interesting stories and narratives lose their proper attraction, and a
diseased and insatiable appetite for the marvellous and the horrible is
generally created. Even to adults, and much more to children, whose
minds have been thus abused, the plain paths of probability and truth
have lost every charm; and the study of abstract but useful subjects
becomes to them a nauseous task--an intolerable burden.

The accuracy of this analogy, we think, will readily be admitted by all.
And if so, it will at least help to illustrate, if it does not prove,
some of the important conclusions to which we shall find ourselves led
upon other, and philosophical grounds. But as the prejudices which,
during several centuries, have been gradually congregating around the
science of education are so many and so powerful, every legitimate
means, and this among others, should be combined for the purpose of
removing them.


_How Nature may be imitated in Communicating Knowledge to the Pupil, by
the Reiteration of Ideas._

The phenomenon in mechanics and natural philosophy, which is popularly
termed "Suction," may be exhibited in a thousand different ways, and yet
all are the result of but one cause. When we witness the various
phenomena of the air and common pump,--the barometer and the cupping
glass,--the sipping of our tea, and the traversing of an insect on the
mirror or the roof,--the operations appear so very dissimilar, that we
are ready to attribute them to the action of a variety of agents. But it
is not so;--for when we trace each of them back to its primitive cause,
we find that each and all of these wonders are produced by the weight of
the atmosphere, and _that alone_. In precisely the same manner,
knowledge may apparently be communicated to the human mind in a thousand
different ways; and yet, when we examine each, and trace it to its
primitive cause, we find the phenomenon to be one--and _one alone_. The
truth has been received and lodged with the memory,--made part of our
knowledge--by _the reiteration of its idea_ by the mind itself;--by an
exercise of active, voluntary thought upon the knowledge thus
communicated. The cause and the effect invariably follow each other both
in old and young; for whenever a new idea is perceived and reiterated by
the pupil,--if it should be but once,--the knowledge of the child is to
that extent increased; but whenever this act of the mind is awanting,
there can be no additional information received;--the increase of
knowledge is found to be impossible. This appears to be a law of our
Nature, to which we know of no exception.

It is also worthy of remark here, that the retention or permanence of
the ideas thus committed to the keeping of the memory depends upon two
circumstances. The first is, the vigour of the mental powers, or the
intensity of the impression made upon them at the time of
reiteration;--and the second, and certainly the principal circumstance,
is the frequency of their reiteration by the mind. In evidence of the
first we see, that a fall, a fright, or a narrow escape from imminent
danger, although it occurred but once, and perhaps in early infancy,
will be remembered through life; and in proof of the second, we find,
that the scenes and circumstances of childhood being frequently and
daily reiterated by the mind, at a time when it has little else to
reiterate, remain permanently on the memory. The object therefore most
to be desired by the teacher, is an exercise, or a series of exercises,
by which, in his attempts to communicate knowledge to his pupil, this
act of reiteration may be secured, and if possible repeated at pleasure,
for more permanently fixing on the memory the knowledge communicated.

In a former chapter we shewed, that this act of reiteration is the
instrument employed by Nature for cultivating the powers of the mind as
well as for communicating and impressing knowledge;--and we have also
shewn that Nature in that process was successfully imitated by means of
the catechetical exercise. This exercise has accordingly been found as
powerful and efficient in promoting this, her second object, as it is in
the first. The success of the catechetical exercise in communicating
knowledge clearly to the young, even when it is but imperfectly managed,
has been extensive and uniform; but wherever its nature has been
properly understood, and it has been scientifically conducted, the
amount of knowledge communicated in a given time, and with a given
amount of mental and physical labour, stands confessedly without a
parallel in the previous history of education. Minds the most obtuse,
habits of listlessness the most inveterate, and mental imbecility,
bordering on idiotcy, have been powerfully assailed and overcome; and
knowledge, by means of this exercise, has forced its way, and firmly
secured a place for itself, in minds which previously were little more
than a blank.

The causes of its success in cultivating the powers of the mind were
formerly explained; but its adaptation to the communicating of knowledge
is still more peculiarly striking. We shall endeavour to point out a few
of these peculiarities.

Let us for that purpose suppose a teacher desirous of communicating to a
child the important fact, that "God at first made all things of nothing
to shew his greatness;" it must be done, either by the child reading or
hearing the sentence. If it be read, there is at least a chance, that
the words may be all decyphered, and audibly pronounced, while the ideas
contained in them have not yet reached the mind. The child may have
carefully examined each word as it occurred, and may have reiterated
each of them on his mind as he read them, and yet there may not be the
slightest addition to his knowledge. The reiteration of _words_, as we
have before explained, is not that which Nature requires, but the
reiteration of _ideas_; and although we may, by substituting the one for
the other, deceive ourselves, Nature will not be deceived; for unless
the ideas contained in the sentence be reiterated by the mind, there can
be no additional information conveyed.--The same thing may happen, if
the words, instead of being read by the child, are announced by the
teacher. The pupil may in that case hear the sounds; nay, he may repeat
the words, and thus reiterate _them_ in his mind after the teacher; but
if he has not translated the words into their proper ideas as he
proceeded, experience proves, that his knowledge remains as limited as
before;--there has been no additional information. These cases are so
common, and so uniform, that no farther illustration we think needs be
given of them.

The desideratum in both these cases is, some exercise by which the child
shall be compelled to translate the words into their several ideas; and
by reiterating the ideas themselves, not the words which convey them, he
shall be enabled at once to commit them to the keeping of the memory,
and thus make them part of his knowledge. The catechetical exercise
supplies this want. For if, in either case, after the words have been
read or repeated, the child is asked, "What did God make?" the
translation of the words into the ideas, if previously neglected, is now
forced upon him, because without this it is impossible for him to
prepare the answer. The ideas must be drawn from the words, and
reiterated by the mind, independently of the words, before the exercise
can be completed. And not only must the particular idea which answers
the question be extracted, but _the whole_ of the ideas contained in the
sentence must be reiterated by the mind, before the selection can be
begun, and the choice made. It is also specially worthy of remark, that
even in such a case as this, where, on the sentence being read or heard,
the words alone were at first perceived, yet no sooner does the mind
proceed to its legitimate object, the reiteration of the ideas which the
words convey, than the words themselves are instantly lost sight of, and
in one sense are never again thought of. As soon as the kernel is
extracted, the shell has lost its value. The pupil having once got sight
of the ideas, tenaciously keeps hold of _them_, and never once thinks
again of the words, which were merely the instrument employed by Nature
to convey them. When the question is asked, and he answers it, the
process consists in his translating the words of the whole sentence into
their several ideas, chusing out the idea which answers the question
from all the others, and then in clothing that idea in words which are
now entirely his own.

In all this there is a long and intricate series of mental exercises, in
every one of which the mind is actively employed, and it is in this, as
before explained, that the value of this exercise, in cultivating the
powers of the mind, really consists. But our present business is with
the acquisition of knowledge by its means; and we have to observe, that
in each of the mental operations required for the answer of a single
question, the ideas contained in the original sentence have repeatedly
to undergo the process of reiteration; by which they are more clearly
perceived, and more permanently fixed on the memory, than they otherwise
could have been. Hence the value of this exercise, even in those cases
where the original sentence has been at the first fully understood. This
will appear obvious by tracing the mental operation of the pupil from
the beginning, when he has to answer the question.

There is first the understanding of the question asked at him. This must
be heard and reiterated by the mind before its purport can be perceived,
and all this before he can commence the proper mental operation upon the
original sentence from which his answer is to be selected. He has then
to review the words of the original sentence, still sounding in his
ears, and to translate them into their several ideas, before he can
begin to select the one required. Then comes the act of selection,
having to chuse out from among all the others the special idea required
as his answer; and lastly, there is the clothing of that idea in words
suitable for the occasion, and the audibly pronouncing of these words as
the answer required. The rapidity with which the mind passes from one
part of this exercise to another, may prevent these several operations
from being perceived, but it is not the less true that they must have
taken place. And hence arises the value of the catechetical exercise,
not only in cultivating in an extraordinary degree the mental faculties
of the pupil, but in powerfully forcing information upon the mind, and
permanently fixing it upon the memory for after use.

But even this does not exhaust the catalogue of benefits to be derived
from the use of the catechetical exercise in communicating knowledge to
the young. We have supposed only one question to have been asked by the
teacher upon the original sentence, and yet we have seen that this one
question has in fact in a great measure secured the understanding of the
whole of the ideas contained in it. But instead of one question, the
catechetical exercise has the power of originating many, each producing
successively similar results, but with greater ease to the child, and
with much more effect in rivetting the several ideas upon the memory.
The first question, when properly put, gives the pupil the command of
the whole proposition; but it requires considerable mental effort in the
child to recall the words, and internally to translate the ideas _for
the first time_. But when this has once been done, and a second question
is asked from the same sentence, the ideas being now more familiar,
there is less mental labour required in preparing the answer, and there
being equal success, there is of course more satisfaction. The ideas
become much more clear and distinct before the mind by a second review;
and the effect, in fixing the whole upon the memory, is much more
powerful than it could be by means of the first. When therefore the
teacher confines himself to the original sentence, and does not indulge
in catechetical wanderings, the questions, "When did God make all
things?" "How many things did God make?" "Of what did God make all
things?" and, "Why did God make all things?" produce extensive and
powerful effects. The pupil finds himself able to master each question
in succession without difficulty, and the answering of each appears to
him a triumph. Whoever has been in the habit of making use of this
exercise in the manner explained above, must have witnessed with
pleasure the life, and energy, and delight, which it invariably infuses
into the scholar, giving education a perfectly different aspect from
what it usually assumes in the eyes of the young, and making it even in
the estimation of the pupil a formidable rival to his play. In this
manner has Nature set her seal upon this exercise, as a near
approximation to her own process for attaining the two preparatory
objects she has in view in the education of the young; that of
cultivating the powers of the mind, and that of communicating to her
pupils the elements of knowledge.

This exercise has been reduced to a regular system, which has placed it
more directly at the command of all who undertake the instruction of the
young. By a little attention on the part of parents and teachers, to a
few simple rules, they may catechise upon any book, and apply the
exercise to any species of knowledge whatever. We shall endeavour to
explain the nature and uses of these rules.

For the purposes of this exercise, the school books of the pupil are
supposed to consist of sentences, each of the principal _words_ in which
conveys some specific idea;--these again are combined into _clauses_,
which also convey an idea;--and the combination of these clauses in a
_sentence_, or _paragraph_, usually forms a complete truth. For example,
the sentence, "God at first [made all things] of nothing [to shew his
greatness,"] contains one great truth; but the sentence which conveys
it, embodies at least two _clauses_, inclosed in brackets, while the
whole is made up of _words_, each of which is the sign of an idea which
may readily be separated from all the others. Now it is evident, that
questions may be formed by the teacher relative to each of these three
parts. He may ask a question, which shall require the _whole_ truth for
the answer; or one which will be answered by a _clause_; or another
which is answered by a _word_.

In "revising," accordingly, where time is an object, the teacher
confines himself to those general questions which bring out the _whole
truth_ at once, as is exemplified in the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
This is called the "Connecting Exercise," because it is employed in
uniting sections together, which have previously been taught to the
pupils separately, but which are necessary to be perceived also in
connection. This, however, would be too limited an exercise for the
purpose of directing the mind to the several parts of a truth for the
first time; and therefore the teacher in those cases forms his questions
chiefly upon the _clauses_ in the sentence, and the other words which
have some material relation to them, and this is called the "General
Exercise." But even this is not enough, where the child is dull, or
where healthful mental exercise is required; and accordingly in that
case, the teacher not only questions upon the clauses in connection with
the other principal words, but he takes the _words_, of which the
clauses are composed, and catechises the child upon them also. This is
called the "Verbal Exercise," which has been found of great value in the
teacher's intercourse with his younger classes. Upon these principles
the Initiatory Catechisms and their Keys have been formed, together with
the several Helps for communicating Scriptural knowledge. The success of
these school books, although labouring under all the disadvantages of
new instruments, imperfectly formed to work out new principles, is
mainly to be attributed to the close imitation of Nature aimed at in all
their exercises.

The _rule_ for the parent or teacher in mastering these exercises is the
same in all; it consists simply in forming the question in such a
manner, as that the word, the clause, or the whole proposition, shall be
required to make the answer. Sufficient explanation and examples of all
this will be found in the Note.[13]

The uniform results of many experiments, have established the importance
of this exercise as an instrument in communicating knowledge to the
ignorant, whether young or old. We shall shortly advert to a few of the
circumstances connected with these experiments, for the purpose of
satisfactorily establishing this.

In an experiment made in May 1828, under the direction of the Very Rev.
Dr Baird, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, before the Lord
Provost, and several of the Professors and Clergymen of that city, nine
adult criminals, "taken without regard to their abilities," and who, in
the opinion of Governor Rose, "formed a fair average of the usual
prisoners," were, in the space of three successive weeks, exercised in
whole for eighteen or twenty hours. They were at the end of that time
minutely examined in the Chapel of the County Jail, in the presence of
the Right Honourable and Reverend Professors and Gentlemen, who formed
Principal Baird's committee; and their Report of the experiment and its
effects bears, that "the result of this important experiment was, in
every point, satisfactory. Not only had much religious knowledge been
acquired by the pupils, and that of the most substantial, and certainly
the least evanescent kind; but it appeared to have been acquired with
ease, and even with satisfaction--a circumstance of material importance
in every case, but especially in that of adult prisoners." "The
examination evidently brought out only a specimen of their knowledge,
and did by no means comprise all that had been acquired by them; but,
even though it had constituted the whole amount of their information,
the fact that such a treasure had been amassed in three weeks is in
itself astonishing. The writer of this Minute was not acquainted with
the extent of their acquirements when Mr Gall commenced his operations;
but judging from the examination, and from his knowledge of the contents
of the books taught, he has no hesitation in averring, that the answers
which they gave, arose entirely from information communicated by them.
And when he reflects that their answers, being clothed in their own
words, guaranteed the fact, that it was _the ideas_ upon which they had
seized, and that their knowledge participated in no degree of rote, the
conviction to his mind is irresistible, that the universal application
of the Lesson System to Prison Discipline, and to adults every where,
would be followed by effects incalculably precious to the individuals
themselves, and to the improving of society in general."

The efficiency of this exercise in communicating knowledge, was equally
conspicuous in another experiment, conducted under the eye of the
Principal, Professors, and Clergymen of Aberdeen, in July 1828. The
persons on whom this experiment was made, were children taken from the
lower classes of society, carefully selected on two several days, by a
committee of clergymen appointed for the purpose, from the various
schools in the city. These children were all carefully and individually
examined in private by the committee, and were chosen from among their
companions, not on account of their natural abilities, or educational
acquirements, but specially and simply on account of their ignorance.
The precautions taken by the Rev. and learned examinators, to secure
accuracy in their ultimate decision, were at once judicious and
complete; and were intended to enable them to say with confidence at the
close of the experiment, that the results, whatever they might be, were
really the effects of the exercise and discipline to which the children
during it had been subjected, and were in no respect due to the previous
capacity or the attainments of the children.

To secure this important preliminary object, therefore, the
sub-committee of clergymen above alluded to was appointed, as soon as
the experiment was determined upon, with instructions to collect a class
of the most ignorant children they could find, attending the several
schools, and who it was thought would be, of course, most incapacitated
for receiving instruction. This sub-committee, consisting of the Rev.
John Murray, the Rev. Abercromby L. Gordon, and the Rev. David Simpson,
in their previous Report, say, "We, on two several days, met with the
children which were collected from the various schools, and examined
them individually, and apart from each other; avoiding every appearance
of formality, and endeavouring to draw them into familiar conversation,
that we might correctly ascertain the state of their religious knowledge
on the three following points, which we considered to be the best
criterion by which to judge of their understanding of the other less
important points in the gospel scheme of salvation.--These points were,
1. Our connection, as sinners, with Adam; 2. Our connection with Christ
as the Saviour; 3. The means by which we become interested in the
salvation of Christ. On minutely examining each child on these points,
one by one, and endeavouring, by varied and familiar language and
cross-questioning, without confusing their ideas, to ascertain the
knowledge which they possessed on these first principles, we accurately,
and at the time, minuted the result, distinguishing those points which
they understood, and those which they did not. From this list we
afterwards selected twenty-two names, of children who appeared from the
list, to be the most ignorant, by _not having any marks of approval on
any one of these points_ on which they were examined;--although delicacy
to the children, as well as to their parents and teachers, prevented us
from stating to them, that this was the principle by which we had been
regulated in our selection. From these twenty-two children, Mr Gall has
made up his class of ten, for this experiment, which he proposes shall
continue for eight days, occupying two hours each day; and having thus
chosen that class of pupils which appeared to us the most ignorant, we
have, in justice to Mr Gall and this system of teaching, stated the
fact, leaving the examinators to make what allowance they may on this
account think proper, in determining on the failure or success of this
very important and interesting experiment."

This was the state of the children's knowledge and capacity when the
experiment began; and the following was found to be the state of these
same children's knowledge when examined publicly in the East Church,
before the Very Rev. Principal, Professors, and Clergymen of the city,
and a large congregation of the citizens, eight days afterwards.

The children were first interrogated minutely on the doctrines of the
gospel, which had been previously arranged in a list under sixteen
different heads, embodying all the leading doctrinal points in the
Confession of Faith and Shorter Catechism, a copy of which was handed to
the Very Rev. Principal Jack, who presided. The Report of the
Experiment, prepared by their Committee, goes on to say, that "After
being examined generally and satisfactorily on each of these heads, the
chairman, by means of a list of the names with which he was furnished,
called up some of them individually, who were carefully examined, and
shewed, by their answers, that they severally understood the nature of
the above doctrines, and their mutual relation to each other.

"They were then examined on the Old Testament History, from the account
of the death of Moses, downwards, to that of the revolt of the Ten
Tribes in the reign of Rehoboam. Here they distinctly stated and
described all the leading circumstances of the narrative comprised in
the 'First Step,' whose brief but comprehensive outline they appeared,
in various instances, to have filled up at home, by reading in their
Bibles the corresponding chapters. They were next examined in the same
way, on several sections of the New Testament," with which they had also
acquired an extensive practical knowledge, besides some useful
information in Civil History, Biography, and Natural Philosophy, on all
which they were closely and extensively examined.

In another experiment, undertaken at the request, and under the
sanction, of the Sunday School Union of London, the efficiency of this
exercise, as a successful imitation of Nature in communicating
knowledge, was also satisfactorily ascertained. We shall at present
advert only to one feature of it, as being more immediately connected
with the present branch of our subject, that of communicating knowledge
to the most ignorant and depraved.

The Report of this Experiment, drawn up by the Secretaries of that
Institution, records, that "it had been requested, that, if possible,
children should be procured, somewhat resembling the heathen, (or
persons in a savage state,) whose intellectual and moral attainments
were bounded only by their knowledge of natural objects, and whose
feelings and obligations were of course regulated principally by
coercion and fear of punishment."

Two gentlemen of the Committee, accordingly, undertook the search, and
at last procured from the streets three children, a boy and two girls of
the ages, so far as could be ascertained, (for they themselves could not
tell,) of seven, nine, and eleven years, whom we shall designate G, H,
and I. These children had no knowledge of letters; knew no more than the
name of God, and that he was in the skies, but could not tell any thing
about him, or what he had done. They knew not who made the sun, nor the
world, nor themselves. They had no idea of a soul, or that they should
live after death. One had a confused idea of the name of Jesus, as
connected with prayers; which, however, she did not understand, but had
never heard of Adam, Noah, or Abraham. When asked if they knew any thing
of Moses, one on them (viz. I,) instantly recollected the name; but when
examined, it was found that she only referred to a cant term usually
bestowed upon the old-clothesmen of London. They had no idea of a
Saviour; knew nothing of heaven or hell; had never heard of Christ, and
knew not whether the name belonged to a man or a woman. The boy, (H,)
when strictly interrogated on this point, and asked, whether he indeed
knew nothing at all of Jesus Christ, thinking his veracity called in
question, replied with much earnestness, and in a manner that showed the
rude state of his mind, "No; upon my soul, I do not!"

This class, after eleven days' teaching, conducted in public, and in the
presence of numbers of teachers, during one hour daily, were publicly
examined in the Poultry Chapel, by a number of clergymen, before the
Committee of the Sunday School Union, and a numerous congregation. The
Report goes on to say, that the children of this class "were examined,
minutely and individually, on the great leading doctrines of
Christianity. The enumeration and illustrations of the several doctrines
were given with a simplicity, and in a language, peculiarly their own;
which clearly proved the value of that part of the Lesson System which
enjoins the dealing with the ideas, rather than with the words; and
which shewed, that they had acquired a clear knowledge of the several
truths. They were also examined on some parts of the Old Testament
History," with which, during that short period, they had been made
thoroughly acquainted.

These facts of themselves, and they could be enlarged to almost any
extent, clearly prove the power and the value of this exercise in
communicating knowledge to the young. And, as we have seen that its
efficiency consists entirely in its close imitation of the process of
Nature in accomplishing the same object, we are the better warranted to
press upon the minds of all who are interested in education and the art
of teaching, the importance of keeping strictly to Nature, so far as we
can trace her operations; as it is by doing so alone that we are sure of
success. It may no doubt be said, that there are other ways of
communicating knowledge to the young, besides the catechetical exercise;
and therefore the necessity of adopting it is neither so necessary nor
so urgent. To this it may be answered, that there have been other plans
adopted, in urgent cases, for the nourishment of the body, besides the
common mode of eating and digesting food; but all such plans are
unnatural, and are of course but momentary and inadequate;--this,
therefore, would form no argument for depriving children of their food.
But even this argument is not parallel; for, although it has been found
that partial nourishment may be conveyed to the blood otherwise than by
the stomach, it has not yet been ascertained that any idea can enter the
mind, except by this act of "reiteration." Unless, therefore, something
definite can be brought forward, which will secure the performance of
this act, different from the catechetical exercise, or the several
modifications of it, that exercise ought to be considered as a necessary
agent in every attempt of the teacher to communicate knowledge.

But this admission in a philosophical question is much more than is at
all necessary for our present purpose. It is in every view of the case
sufficient to shew, that knowledge cannot be imparted without voluntary
active thought upon the ideas communicated, or what we have termed,
"reiteration;"--and if this be once admitted, and if it can be shewn
that the catechetical exercise produces this result _more certainly_,
and _more powerfully_, than any other mode of instruction yet known,
then nothing but prejudice will lead to the neglect of this, or will
give the preference to another. And it is a remarkable fact, that on
investigation it will be found, that almost every useful exercise
introduced into schools within the last thirty years, owes its
efficiency to the presence, more or less, of the principles which we
have been explaining, as embodied in the catechetical exercise.[14]


[13] Note L.


_On the Means by which Nature may be imitated in Exercising the
Principle of Individuation._

While it appears to be a law of Nature, that there can be no
accumulation of knowledge without the act of reiteration, yet there are
other principles which she brings into operation in connection with it,
by which the amount of the various branches of knowledge received is
greatly increased, and the knowledge itself more easily comprehended,
and more permanently retained upon the memory.

The first of these principles, which we have before alluded to and
described, is that of "individuation;" that principle by which an infant
or child is induced to concentrate the powers of its mind upon a new
object, and that to the exclusion for the time of every other, till it
has become acquainted with it.

In a former chapter we found, that as long as a child remains solely
under the guidance of Nature, it will not allow its attention to be
distracted by different _unknown_ objects at the same time; but whenever
it selects one for examination, it invariably for the time abandons the
consideration of every other. The consequence of this is, that infants,
with all their physical and mental imbecility, acquire more real
knowledge under the tuition of Nature in one year, than children who are
double their age usually gain by the imperfect and unnatural exercises
of unreformed schools in three or four. The cause of this is easily
detected, and may be illustrated by the analogy of any one of the
senses. The eye, for example, like the mind, must not only see the
object, but it must look upon it--examine it--before the child can
either become acquainted with it at the time, or remember it afterwards.
But if unknown objects are made rapidly to flit past the eye of the
child, so that this cannot be done before there is time to fix the
attention upon any of them, the labour of the exhibitor is not only
lost, but the sight of the child is impaired;--the eye itself is
injured, and is less able, for some time afterwards, to look steadily
upon any other object, even when that object is stationary. Such is the
injury and the confusion created in the mind of a child when it is
hurried forward from object to object, or from truth to truth, before
the mind has had leisure to lay hold of them, or to concentrate its
powers upon the ideas they suggest. The labour of the teacher in that
case is not only lost, and the child harassed and irritated, but the
powers of the mind, instead of being brightened and strengthened, are
bewildered and mystified, and must therefore be weakened in a
corresponding degree.

The method to be adopted therefore for the imitation of Nature in the
working of this principle, will consist in bringing forward, for the
consideration of the child, every new letter, or word, or truth, or
object, _by itself_. When presented separately and alone, there is no
distraction of mind--no confusion of ideas; the child is allowed to
consider it well before learning it, so that he will know something of
its form or its nature, and will remember it again when it is either
presented to his notice alone, or when it is grouped with others. His
idea of the object or truth may be indistinct and faint at first, but it
is correct so far as it goes; and the ideas which he retains concerning
it, are obviously much more extensive, than if the mind at its first
presentation had been disturbed or bewildered by the addition of
something else.

His idea of the object or the truth, after being repeatedly considered,
may still be very inadequate, but it will now be distinct; and it is the
want of this precision in the pupil's mind that so frequently deceives
teachers, and confuses and obstructs the future advance of the scholars.
When a child hears, or reads a passage, the teacher, who understands it
himself, too often takes it for granted that the child as he proceeds is
reiterating the ideas as well as himself, and is of course master of the
subject. But this is not always the case; and wherever the child has not
succeeded in doing so, all that follows in that lesson is usually to the
child the cause of confusion and difficulty. He finds himself at a
stand; and however far he may in these circumstances be dragged
forward, he has not advanced a step, and he must at some future
period,--and the sooner the better,--return again to the same point, and
proceed anew under serious disadvantages.

In almost every stage of a child's education, the neglect of this
principle is seriously and painfully felt. It is the cause of acute
mental suffering to well affected and zealous pupils; and it is the
chief origin of all the heartlessness, and idleness, and apathy, which
are found to pervade and regulate the conduct of those that are less
active. A careful appliance of this principle of individuation,
therefore, is always of importance in education; but it ought never to
be forgotten, that it is more peculiarly valuable and necessary at the
commencement, than at any other period of a child's progress in
learning. We shall advert to a few of the methods by which it may be
applied in ordinary school education, in contrast with some instances in
which it is neglected.

In teaching the alphabet to children, the principle of individuation is
indispensable; and its neglect has been productive of serious and
permanent mischief. A child of good capacity, by a proper attention to
this principle, will, with pleasure and ease, learn the names and forms
of the letters, with the labour of only a few hours;[15] while, by
neglecting the principle, the same child would, after years of
irritation and weariness, be still found ignorant of its alphabet. The
overlooking of the principle at this period has done an immense deal of
injury to the cause of education. It has, at the very starting post in
the race of improvement, quenched and destroyed all the real, as well as
the imaginary delights of learning and knowledge. It has given the tyro
such an erroneous but overwhelming impression of the difficulties and
miseries which he must endure in his future advance, that the disgust
then created has often so interwoven itself with his every feeling, that
education has during life appeared to him the natural and necessary
enemy to every kind of enjoyment.

It used to be common, and the practice may still we believe be found
lingering among some of the lovers of antiquity, to make a child
commence at the letter A, and proceed along the alphabet without
stopping till he arrived at Z; and this lesson not unfrequently included
both the alphabets of capitals and small letters. Now the cruelty of
such an exercise with a child will at once be apparent, if we shall only
change its form. If a teacher were to read over to an infant twice a-day
a whole page or paragraph _without stopping_ of Cæsar or Cicero in
Latin, and demand that on hearing it he shall learn it, we could at once
judge of the difficulty, and the feelings of a volatile mind chained to
the constant and daily repetition of such a task; and if this exercise
were termed its "education," we can easily conceive the amount of
affection that the child would learn to cherish towards it. Now this is
really no exaggerated illustration of the matter in hand, for in both
cases the principle of individuation, so carefully guarded and enforced
by Nature, is equally outraged; and it is only where, by some means or
other, a remedy for the evil accidentally occurs, that the result in the
case of the alphabet, is not exactly the same as it would have been in
the case of the classics above supposed. The writer once saw in a Sunday
school, where the children were taught twice each Sabbath, a class in
which some of the children had attended for upwards of two years, and
were still in their alphabet; and if the same mode had been pursued,
there is little doubt that they would have been in it yet.

The remedy for this evil is obvious. Instead of confounding the eye and
the mind of the child, by rapidly parading twenty-six, or fifty-four
forms, continuously and without intermission before the pupil, the
letters ought to be presented to the child singly, or at most by two at
a time; and these two should be rendered familiar, both in name and in
form, before another character is introduced. When a few of the more
conspicuous letters have become familiar, another is to be brought
forward, and the child may be made to amuse himself, by picking out from
a page of a book, all the letters he has learned, naming them, and if
necessary describing them to a companion or a sub-monitor as they occur.
Or he may be set down by himself, with a waste leaf from an old book, or
pamphlet, or newspaper, to prick with a pin the new letter or letters
last taught him; or, as an introduction to his writing, he may be made
to score them gently with ink from a fine tipped pen. In these
exercises, and all others which are in their nature similar, the
principle of individuation is acknowledged and acted upon; and therefore
it is, that a child will, by their means, acquire an acquaintance with
the letters in an exceedingly short time, and, which is of still greater
importance, without irritation or trouble. These methods may sometimes
be rendered yet more effective, by the teacher applying the catechetical
exercise to this comparatively dry and rather forbidding part of a
child's education. It proceeds upon the principle of describing each
letter, and attaching its name to the description, such as "round o,"
"spectacle g," "top dotted i," &c. as in the "Classified Alphabet." The
teacher has thus an opportunity of exercising the child's imagination,
as well as its memory, and making a monotonous, and comparatively
unintellectual exercise, one of considerable variety and amusement.

In teaching the alphabet to adults, whose minds are capable of
appreciating and applying the principle of analysis, the "Classified
Alphabet" should invariably be used. By this means their memory, in
endeavouring to recall the form and name of any particular letter,
instead of having to search through the whole _twenty-six_, has never to
think of more than the four or five which compose its class,--a
circumstance which makes the alphabet much more easily acquired by the
adult than by a child. But even here, the principle of individuation
must not be lost sight of; each letter in the class must be separately
learned, and each class must be familiar, before another is taught.

The principle of individuation continues to be equally necessary in
teaching children to combine the letters in the formation of words; and
when it is attended to, and when the only real use of letters, as the
mere symbols of sound, is understood by the pupil, a smart child may be
taught to read in a few minutes. This is not a theory, but a
fact,--evidenced in the experience of many, and in the presence of
thousands. Nor is it necessary that the words which are taught, should
consist only of two or three letters; if the word be familiar to the
child in speech, it becomes instantly known, when divided and taught in
parts or syllables; and when once it is learned by the sounds of the
letters, though these sounds merely approximate to the pronunciation of
the word, it is sufficient to give a _hint_ of what the word is, and
when once it is known, it will not likely be again forgotten. By this
means, the child is never puzzled except by entirely new words; and by
knowing the use of the letters in their sounds, he receives a key by
which at least to _guess_ at them, which the sense of the subject
greatly assists; so that one day, or even one hour, is sometimes, and we
have no doubt will soon be generally, sufficient to overcome the
hitherto forbidding and harassing drudgery of learning to read.

In teaching children their first lessons, it is of great importance that
the main design of reading should be clearly understood, and attended
to. As writing, philosophically considered, is nothing more than an
artificial substitute for speaking, so reading is nothing more than an
artificial substitute for hearing, and is subject to all the laws which
regulate that act. Now one of the chief laws impressed by Nature on the
act of _hearing_ the speech of others, is the very remarkable one
formerly alluded to, namely, the exclusive occupation of the mind with
the _ideas_ communicated, to the entire exclusion of the _words_, which
are merely the means by which the ideas are conveyed. The words are no
doubt heard, but they are never thought of;--for if they were, the mind
would instantly become distracted, and the ideas would be lost. This law
equally applies to the act of _reading_; and every one feels, that
perfection in this art is never attained, till the mind is exclusively
occupied with the ideas in the book, and never in any case with the
words which convey them. But in learning to read, the difficulty of
decyphering the words, tends to interfere with this law, and this must
be guarded against. The remedy simply is, to allow the child time to
overcome this first difficulty, by repeatedly, if necessary, reading the
sentence till he can read it perfectly; and then, before leaving it, to
discipline the mind to the perception of the ideas it contains, now that
the child can read it well.

The catechetical exercise, as in the "First Class Book on the Lesson
System," will almost always accomplish the object here pointed out; and
the value of the exercise it recommends will be best understood and
appreciated, by observing the evils which invariably follow its neglect.
For if the child be allowed to read on and on, while the difficulty of
decyphering the words in the book remains, the ideas will be left
behind, the attention will be fatigued, and at last exhausted. The child
will continue to read without understanding; and the habit thus acquired
of reading the words, without perceiving the ideas at all, will soon be
established and confirmed. Custom has robbed this relict of a former age
of much of its repulsiveness; but it is not the less hurtful on that
account. Were we to run a parallel with it in any other matter, its true
nature and deformity would at once appear. For example, were we to
suppose ourselves listening to an imperative message from a superior, by
a messenger with whose language we were but partially acquainted, we
would not allow him to proceed with his communication from beginning to
end, while the very first sentence he uttered, had not been understood,
and the mind was unprepared for that which was to follow. We would stop
him at the close of the very first sentence, and would master the
meaning of that, before we would advance with him another step; and then
we would make him proceed at such a pace as we could keep up with him.
If he left us again behind, there would be but one remedy. He must
return and repeat the sentence where he left us, till we had
comprehended his master's meaning; and if he refused to do this, he
could not conscientiously say to him on his return, that he had
delivered his message. By following this plan, and adopting this branch
of the natural principle of individuation in such a case, two benefits
would arise. We would first become perfectly acquainted with the will
and message of our superior; and next, we would, at the close of the
exercise, be so much more familiar with the language in which it was
delivered, as that it would require less effort on a future occasion, to
comprehend the meaning of the same speaker. If this method had not been
adopted, and the message had been given entire and without a pause, it
might have been rehearsed in our hearing a hundred times, but the
meaning would neither have been mastered, nor would our knowledge of the
language have been in the least improved.

The application of this principle of individuation in the early stages
of a child's learning to read, suggests the propriety also of making
some preparation for his reading every new lesson in succession. We have
seen that it is chiefly the new words in a lesson that create
difficulty, and prevent the operation of that important law in Nature
which induces the mind at once to lay hold of the ideas. To obviate this
distraction of mind therefore beforehand, the new words which _are to
occur_ in the lesson should be selected, and made familiar to the child
previously, and by themselves;--he should be taught to read them easily
by the combination of their letters, and clearly to understand their
meaning, in precisely the same shade in which they are used in the
lesson he is to read. When this is done, the lesson will be read with
ease and with profit;--while, without this, the difficulty will be much
greater, if not beyond his powers. In accordance with this plan, the
"First Class Book," before referred to, has been constructed, and its
efficiency on that account is greatly increased.

The neglect of this special application of the principle has been long
and painfully felt in society, and most of all where the young have been
sent earliest to school. The habit of reading the words without
understanding the meaning of what they read, having once been acquired,
the weak powers of children are not sufficient to overcome the
difficulties with which this habit has surrounded them. They feel
themselves burdened and harassed with unnatural and unmeaning exercises
for years, before they can acquire the art of reading the words of the
simplest school book; and, what is still worse, after they have left the
school, and have entered upon the busy scenes of life, they find, that
they have now to teach themselves an entirely new art,--the art of
_understanding by reading_. Instead of all this waste of energy, and
patience, and time, experience has fully proved, that by following the
plain and easy dictates of Nature, as above explained, all the drudgery
of learning to read may be got over in a week,--it has been times
without number accomplished in a single day,[16]--and this without any
harassing exertion, and generally with delight. Of the truth of this, a
few out of many instances may here be enumerated.

In the summer of 1831, the writer one morning found himself, by mere
accident, and a perfect stranger, in a Sunday school in the borough of
Southwark, London. He attached himself first to a class of children,
some of whom he found on enquiry had been two years at the school, and
were yet only learning the alphabet. In the same school, and on the same
morning, a young man who only knew his letters, but had never yet
attempted to put them together, was classified with the infants, whom he
had willingly joined in his anxiety to learn. He had a lesson by
himself. By a rigid adherence to the above principle of individuation,
this young man, to his own great astonishment, was able in a few minutes
to read a verse. The lesson went on, and in somewhat less than half an
hour he had mastered several verses, and now knew perfectly how to make
use of the letters in decyphering the several words. By that one lesson
he found himself quite able to teach himself. In proof of this, as was
afterwards ascertained, he read that same day on going home, without
help, nineteen verses of the same chapter; and these verses, on
returning to school on the same afternoon, he read correctly and without
hesitation, to his usual and astonished teacher. There can be no doubt,
from this circumstance, that if it had been at all necessary, he could,
without further aid, and with still greater ease, have read a second
nineteen verses, and perfected himself by practice in this important,
and supposed difficult art of reading, by this one lesson of less than
half an hour.

In a later experiment, made in Dumfries, in the presence and under the
sanction of Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, and the clergymen and teachers of
that town, the power of this principle was put to a severe trial, in a
very unexpected and extraordinary manner. The week-day teachers of that
town having heard of some of the above circumstances, and of the powers
of the Lesson System generally, in enabling children to read with but
little trouble, were desirous of having its powers tested in that town,
where the writer happened to be for a few days. He agreed; and Sir
Thomas Kirkpatrick, the Sheriff of the county, with the clergymen and
teachers, at his request, formed themselves into a committee for the
purposes of the investigation. A sub-committee of the week-day teachers
were appointed to procure a boy to be taught, which they did, and who,
on being closely examined at a preliminary public meeting of the whole
examinators, was found totally ignorant of words, and knew not one
letter from another, with the exception, of "the round o."

With this boy the writer retired, having agreed to call them again
together at a public meeting, as soon as he was ready. This at the time
he did not doubt would have been on the very next day;--but he was
disappointed. He had not been five minutes with his pupil, till he
found, to his great mortification, that he had little or no intellect to
work upon. The boy was twelve years of age, and yet he was perfectly
ignorant of all the days of the week, except one, the market day, on
which he was in the practice of making a few pence by holding the
farmers' horses. He could in no case tell what day of the week went
before or followed another. He could count numbers forward mechanically
till among the teens; but by no effort of mind could he tell what number
came before nine, till he had again counted forward from one. The most
obvious deduction from the simplest idea appeared to be quite beyond the
grasp of his mind. For example, though repeatedly told that John was
Zebedee's son, yet, after frequent trials, he could never make out, nor
comprehend who was John's father. Yet this boy,--one certainly among the
lowest in the grade of intellect of our species,--by a rigid application
of the principle of individuation, was enabled to overcome a great part
of the drudgery of learning to read, by exactly eight hours' teaching.
This boy, who at the preliminary meeting on Wednesday, knew only "the
round o," read correctly in the Court-House on the following Monday, a
section of the New Testament, to the Rev. Dr Duncan, minister of
Ruthwell, before the Sheriff, clergymen, teachers, and a large assembly
of the inhabitants of Dumfries. To ascertain that he had in that time
really _learned to read_, and that he did not repeat the words of the
section by rote, he was made to read before the audience, in a chapter
of the Old Testament, and then from a newspaper, the same words that he
had read in his lesson. This he did readily, and without a mistake.


[14] For some practical information and directions connected with the
subjects in this chapter, see Note M.

[15] Note N.

[16] Note H.


_On the Means by which Nature may be imitated in Applying the Principle
of Grouping, or Association._

The principle of Grouping, or Association, as employed by Nature in her
educational process, is obviously intended to enable the pupil easily to
receive knowledge, and to assist the memory in retaining and keeping it
ever after at the command of the will. It is employed to unite many
objects or truths into one aggregate mass, which is received as
one,--having the component parts so linked, or associated together, that
when any one part is afterwards brought before the mind, it has the
power of immediately conjuring up, and holding in review, all the
others. For example, when a child enters a room in which its parents and
relations are severally employed, the whole scene is at a single glance
comprehended and understood, and will afterwards be distinctly
remembered in all its parts. The elements of the scene are no doubt all
familiar, but the particular grouping of these elements are _entirely
new_, and form an addition to his knowledge, as we formerly explained,
as substantial, and as distinct, as the grouping of any other kind of
objects or circumstances could possibly do. Here then is a certain
amount of knowledge acquired by the child, which could be recorded in
writing, or which might be communicated by words; but which, by the
operation of this principle of grouping, has been acquired with greater
ease, and in much less time, than he could either have read it, or
described it. It has been done in this instance by Nature bringing the
_ideas_ suggested by the group directly before the mind of the child,
without even the intervention of words; and we see by this example, how
much more laborious it would have been to communicate the very same
amount of knowledge to the pupil, by making him _read_ the description
of it, and how utterly preposterous and unnatural it would be to compel
him, for the same purpose, to commit the words of that description to
memory. The words are merely an artificial contrivance for the conveying
of ideas;--and the more they can be kept out of view, it will be better
for the teacher, and more natural and easy for the child.

In communicating knowledge, therefore, to the young, the more directly
and simply the ideas to be communicated are presented to the mind the
better. They must usually be communicated by words; but these, as the
mere instruments of conveyance, should be kept as much as possible out
of view. To bring them at all under the notice of the child is a defect;
but to make them the chief object of learning, or to make the pupil
commit them to memory, is not only laborious and unnecessary, but is
unnatural and hurtful.

In all this we ought simply to take our lessons from Nature, if we wish
to succeed in conveying knowledge by the combination of simple objects.
In the above example, we have seen that a single glance was sufficient
to give the infant a distinct idea of the whole scene; and the reason
is, that the principle of individuation had previously done its work.
Each of the elements of which the scene was composed, had undergone an
individual and separate examination, and therefore each was familiar.
This is Nature's method of communicating knowledge to the young; and it
is obvious, that a different arrangement of the objects or actions would
have made no difference in the effects produced by the operation of the
principle. Whatever the circumstances might have been, the new scene,
with all its variety of incidents, persons, and things, which it would
take ten-fold more time to enumerate than to learn, would at once be
impressed on the mind, and delivered over to the keeping of the memory,
without labour, or any perceptible effort. The whole grouping forms a
chain of circumstances, any one link in which, when afterwards laid hold
of by the mind, brings up all the others in connection with it. The
memory by this means is relieved from the burden of remembering all the
individualities, and the innumerable details of the scene, by
maintaining a comprehensive hold of the whole united group, as one
undivided object for remembrance.

From this it appears evident, that this principle is intended to succeed
that of individuation, and never to precede it. Objects and truths which
form the elements of knowledge must be individually familiar, before
they can be successfully grouped, or associated together in masses, in
the way in which the several parts of the knowledge of the young are
usually presented; but after these objects or truths have once become
known, they may be permanently associated together in any variety of
form without fatigue, and be retained on the memory for use without
confusion or distraction of any kind.

In our investigations into the nature and working of this principle, as
detailed in a former chapter, we found several causes which gave rise
to certain uniform effects, which, for the purpose of imitation or
avoidance, may be classed under the following heads:--We found,

1. That wherever the principle of grouping acted with effect, it had
always been preceded by the principle of individuation.

2. That wherever the principle of individuation was made to interfere,
the effect intended by the principle of association was in the same
degree obstructed or destroyed.

3. That whenever ideas or objects, whether known or unknown, were
presented to a child in greater number than the mind could receive or
reiterate them, it silently dropped the surplus;--but if these were
_forced_ upon the mind, all the mischiefs arising from the interference
of the two hostile principles immediately took place.

4. That children, in grouping under the tuition of Nature, received and
retained the impressions of objects presented to their notice, in a
natural and regular order;--forming in their minds a continuous moving
scene, where motion formed a part of it; and that this movement of the
objects, actually was a portion of the grouping.

These being the facts connected with this portion of Nature's
educational process, the object of the teacher should be to endeavour to
imitate her in all these circumstances; carefully avoiding what she has
shewn to be inoperative and hurtful, and copying as closely as possible
all those that tend to forward the objects of instruction.

The first thing then to be attended to by the teacher, is, that in every
attempt to communicate knowledge to a child by the grouping of objects,
he takes care that the principle of individuation has preceded it;--that
is, that the various ideas or objects to be grouped, be individually
familiar to the pupil. In communicating a story, therefore, or an
anecdote, or in teaching a child to read, care must be taken that the
objects or individual truths, the words, or the letters, be previously
taught by themselves, before he be called upon to group them in masses,
whether greater or smaller. If this be neglected, an important law of
Nature is violated, and the lesson to this extent will be ineffective,
or worse. But if, on the contrary, this rule be attended to, the pupil,
when he comes to these objects in the act of grouping, is prepared for
the process; he meets with nothing that he is not familiar with; he has
nothing to learn, and has only to allow the objects to take their proper
places, as when he looked into the room, and grouped its contents as
before supposed. All this being perfectly natural, is accomplished
without effort, and with ease and pleasure.--This precaution on the part
of the teacher, will at once remove many of the difficulties and
embarrassments which have hitherto pressed so heavily upon the pupil in
almost every stage of his advance, but more especially in the early
stages of his learning to read.[17]

As an illustration of our meaning, we may notice here, that a child who
knows what is meant by "sheep," and "the keeping of sheep," of "tilling
the ground," and "making an offering to God," &c. is prepared to hear or
to read an abridgement of the story of Cain and Abel. We say _an
abridgement_ or _first step_, for reasons which shall afterwards be
explained. Without a previous knowledge of these several elements of
which this story is compounded, he could neither have listened to it
with pleasure, nor read it with any degree of profit; but as soon as
these are individually familiar, the grouping,--the knowledge of the
whole story,--is a matter of ease, and generally of delight. As the
story advances, it causes a constant and regular series of groupings on
the mind by the imagination, which are at once exquisitely pleasing and
permanent. The child, as in a living and moving picture, imagines a man
laboriously digging the ground, and another man in a distant field
placidly engaged in attending to the wants and the safety of a flock of
sheep. He imagines the former heaping an altar with fruits and without
fire; and the latter killing a lamb, laying its parts on an altar, while
a stream of fire descends from the skies and consumes it. His
imagination goes on with increasing interest to picture the
quarrel-scene in the field; and he in effect sees the blow given by the
club of Cain, that destroyed the life of his brother. All this living
and moving scene will be remembered in groups; and these groups will be
more or less closely linked together, and will be imagined more or less
distinctly as a whole, in proportion to the mental advancement of the
particular child.

The next thing to be attended to in communicating knowledge to a child
by grouping, is, that no strange for unknown object or idea be
introduced among those which he is called upon to group; because in that
case, the operation will be materially interfered with, and either
marred or destroyed. The completeness of this operation in the hands of
Nature, depends in a great measure, as we have seen, upon the perfect
composure and self-possession of the mind during the process. If there
be no interruption,--no element of distraction introduced into the
exercise,--all the circumstances, as they arise in the gradual
developement of the story, are comprehended and grouped. The living and
moving picture is permanently fixed upon the memory, so that it may be
recalled and reviewed at any future time. But if, on the contrary, the
placidity of the mind be interrupted,--if some strange and unknown
object be introduced, whose agency is really necessary for connecting
the several parts of the story,--the very attempt of the child to
become individually acquainted with it, throws the whole process into
confusion; and he has either to drop the contemplation of this necessary
part of the machinery, or to lose the benefit of all that is detailed
during the time he is engaged with it. In either case the end is not
gained; and the great design aimed at by the teacher,--the communication
of the knowledge connected with the narrative,--is more or less
frustrated. Like the landscape pictured on the placid bosom of the lake,
the formation and contemplation of his own undisturbed imaginings are
delightful to the child; but the introduction of an unknown object, like
the dropping of a stone in the former case, produces confusion and
distortion, which are always unpleasant and painful.

One general reason why the introduction of unknown objects into these
groupings of the child is so pernicious, may also be here adverted to.
It arises from the circumstance, that no person, whether young or old,
can form, even in his imagination, the idea of an entirely new thing.
This is commonly illustrated by the well known fact, that it is
impossible to conceive of a new sense;--but it is equally applicable to
the conception of a new object. Adults can no doubt conceive and picture
on their imaginations, objects and scenes which they never saw;--but
this mental act is not the imagining of an entirely new thing. All such
scenes or things are compounded of objects, or parts of objects, which
they have seen, and with which they are familiar. They can readily
picture to themselves a centaur or a cerberus, a mermaid or a
dragon,--creatures which have no existence, and which never did exist;
but a little reflection will shew, that nothing which the mind conceives
of these supposed animals is really new, but is merely a new combination
of elements, or parts of other animals, already familiar. Children
accordingly can easily conceive the idea of a giant or a dwarf, a woman
without a head, or a man with two, because the elements of which these
anomalies are compounded are individually familiar to them;--but were
they told of a person sitting in a howdah, or being conveyed in a
palanquin, without having these objects previously explained or
described to them, the mind would either be drawn from the story to find
out what these meant, and thus they would lose it; or they would, on the
spur of the moment, substitute in their minds something else which
perhaps had no likeness to them, and which would lead them into serious
error. For example, they might suppose that the one was a house, and the
other a ship;--a supposition which would distort the whole narrative,
and would render many of its parts inconsistent and incomprehensible.

As adults then, in every similar case, are under the necessity of
drawing materials from their general knowledge, for the purpose of
compounding all such unknown objects, it must be much more difficult for
a child to do this, not only because of his want of ability, but his
want of materials. The remedy therefore in this case is, to explain and
describe the objects that are to be grouped, before the pupil be called
upon to do so. And when the object has not been seen by the child, and
cannot be exhibited by a picture, or otherwise, the teacher must exert
his ingenuity in enabling him to form an idea of the thing that is
unknown, by a combination of parts of objects which are. Thus a tiger
may be described as resembling a large cat; a wolf, a fox, or even a
lion, as resembling certain kinds of dogs; a howdah as a smaller sofa,
and a palanquin, as a light crib. In all these cases, it is worthy of
notice, that a mere difference of size never creates confusion;--simply
because, by a natural law in optics, such differences are of constant
occurrence in the experience both of children and adults. A water neut
will convey a sufficiently correct idea of a crocodile; and the picture
of an elephant, only one inch square, will create no difficulty, if the
correct height be given. When these rules have been attended to, it will
be found, that this principle in Nature has been successfully imitated;
and the pupil, by the previous process of individuation, will be
perfectly prepared for the delightful task of grouping the objects which
he now knows. When he comes to these objects in the narrative, he
conceives the idea of them accurately, and he groups them without
effort. There is no hesitation, and no confusion in his ideas. The
painting formed upon the mind is correct; the whole picture is united
into one connected scene, and is permanently imprinted on the memory for
future use.

Another circumstance connected with this principle of grouping in
children, we found to be, that when, at any time a greater number of
objects were presented to the mind than it was able to reiterate and
group, it silently dropt the surplus, and grouped those only which came
within the reach of its powers; but if in any instance an attempt was
made to _force_ the child to receive and reiterate the ideas of objects
beyond a certain point, the mind got confused, and its powers
weakened.--The imitation of Nature in this point is also of great
importance in education, particularly in teaching and exercising
children in reading. To perceive this more clearly, it will be necessary
to make a few remarks on the nature of the art of reading.

Reading is nothing more than a mechanical invention, imitative of the
act of hearing; as writing is a mechanical mode of indicating sounds,
and thus becomes a substitute for the art of speaking, and conveying
ideas. But there is this material difference between reading and
hearing, that in hearing the person giving attention is in a great
measure passive, and may, or may not attend as he pleases. He may
receive part of what is said, and, as prompted by Nature, he may
silently drop all that he cannot easily reiterate. But in the act of
reading, the person has both the active and the passive operations to
perform. His mind, while he reads, must be actively engaged in
decyphering the words of his book, and the ideas are, or should be, by
this act, forced upon the observation of the mind at the same time. As
long, therefore, as the child is required to read nothing except that
which he understands, and to read no more, and no faster, than his mind
can without distraction receive and reiterate the ideas which he reads,
the act of grouping will be performed with ease, and with evident
delight, and the powers of the mind will be healthfully and extensively
exercised and strengthened:--But if this simple principle of Nature be
violated, the exercise becomes irritating to the child, and most
pernicious in its consequences. The neglect of this application of the
principle is so common in education, that it usually escapes
observation; but on this very account it demands from us here a more
thorough investigation.

We say then, that this principle is violated when a child is required to
read that which it does not, and perhaps cannot understand; and also
when he is required to read more, or to read faster, than he is able to
reiterate the ideas in his own mind. On each of these cases we shall say
a few words, for the purpose of warning and directing the teacher in
applying this important principle in education.

Let us then suppose a child set to read a section which he does not, and
which there is every probability he cannot understand, and then let us
carefully mark the consequences. The child in such a case reads the
words in his book, which ought to convey to his mind the ideas which the
words contain. This is the sole purpose of either hearing or reading.
But this is not accomplished. The words are read, and the ideas are not
perceived; but the child is required to read on. He does so; and of
course when the first part of the subject or sentence has been beyond
his reach, the second, which most probably hangs upon it, must be much
more so. In this therefore he also fails; but he is still required to
read on. Here is a practice begun, which at once defeats the very
intention of reading, and allows the child's mind to roam upon any thing
or every thing, while the eye is mechanically engaged with his book. The
habit is soon formed. The child reads; but his attention is gone. He
does not, and at length he cannot, understand by reading. This habit, as
we formerly explained, when it is once formed, it requires great efforts
on the part of the child to overcome. Most people when they are actively
engaged in life, do at last overcome it; while thousands, who have
nominally been taught to read, never can surmount the difficulties it
involves. Many on this account, and for want of practising an art which
they cannot profitably use, lose the art altogether.

But again, let us suppose a child set to read that which he may
understand, but which he is required to read more rapidly than allows
him to perceive and to reiterate the ideas while reading, and let us
mark what are the necessary consequences in such a case. The child is
called on to read a sentence, and he does so. He understands it too. But
the art of reading is not yet familiar, and he has to bend part of his
attention to the decyphering of the words, as well as to the perception
and reiteration of the ideas. This requires more time in a child to whom
reading is not yet familiar, than to a child more advanced. But give him
a little time, and the matter is accomplished the ideas have been
received, and they will be reiterated, grouped, and committed to the
keeping of the memory,--and then they will form part of his knowledge.
But if this time be not given,--if the child, while engaged in
collecting the ideas from the words of one sentence, be urged forward to
the reading of another, the mental confusion formerly described
instantly takes place. More ideas are forced upon the mind than it can
reiterate; no group can be formed, because the elements of which it
ought to be composed, have not yet been perceived; the imagination gets
bewildered;--the mind is unnaturally burdened;--its faculties are
overstretched;--the child is discouraged and irritated; the powers of
his mind fatigued and weakened; and the whole object of the teacher is
at once defeated, and rendered worse than useless.--In every case,
therefore, when the child is called on to read, sufficient time should
be given;--the teacher taking care that the main design of reading, that
of collecting and grouping ideas, be always accomplished; and that the
pupil reads no more at one time than he can thoroughly understand and

There is yet another circumstance connected with this process of
grouping, which ought not to be overlooked. It refers to the order in
which the objects to be grouped by the child are presented to his
notice. A child under the guidance of Nature, receives and retains its
impressions of objects in a natural and simple order. When it witnesses
a scene, the group of objects, or actions formed and pictured on the
mind by the imagination, is exactly as they were seen, the one
circumstance following the other in natural and regular order. In
telling a story therefore to a child, and more especially in composing
lessons for them to read, this part of Nature's plan should be carefully
studied and acted upon. The elements of which the several groupings are
composed, or the circumstances in the narrative to be related, should be
presented in the order in which the eye would catch them in Nature, or
the order in which they occurred, that there may be no unnecessary
retrogression of the mind, no confounding of ideas, no fear of losing
the links that connect and bind together the minor groupings of the
story. In the history of Cain and Abel, for example, the child is not to
be required to paint upon his imagination, a deadly struggle between two
persons of whom as yet he knows nothing; and then, retiring backwards
in the story, be made acquainted with the circumstances connected with
their several offerings to God; and last of all, their parentage, their
occupations, and their characters. The minds of the young and
inexperienced would be perplexed and bewildered by such a plan of
proceeding; and the irregularity would most probably be the cause of
their losing the whole story. The opposite of this plan is no doubt
frequently adopted in works of fiction prepared for adults, and for the
sake of effect; but every one must see that it is unnecessary in simple
history, and is not at all adapted for the instruction of the young.
When Nature's method is adopted, the child collects and groups the
incidents as he proceeds, and paints, without effort, the whole living
and moving scene on his imagination, as if he himself had stood by, and
been an eye-witness of the original events.

The ascertained benefits of these modes of imitating Nature, are
literally innumerable; and it is happily within the power of every
parent or teacher, in a single hour, to test them for himself. We shall
merely advert to one or two instances which occurred in the recorded
experiments, where their effects, in combination with the other
principles, were conspicuous.

In the experiment upon the prisoners in the County Jail of Edinburgh,
the acquisition of their knowledge of Old Testament History, instead of
being a burden, was to them a source of unmingled gratification. There
were painted upon their minds the leading incidents in the history of
the patriarchs, not only in groups, but their judgments being ripened,
they were able to perceive them in regular connection. These pictures,
then so pleasantly impressed on their imaginations, are likely to remain
with them through the whole of their lives. The Report says, that "they
were examined on their knowledge of the Book of Genesis," and "gave a
distinct account of its prominent facts from Adam down to the
settlement in Goshen, and shewed by their answers that these
circumstances were understood by them in their proper nature and

By the same means, but in less time, and to a greater extent, the same
object was attained with the children in Aberdeen, who, though chosen
from the schools specially on account of their want of knowledge, were,
by only a few hours teaching, enabled, besides many other subjects of
knowledge, to receive and retain on their minds the great leading
circumstances that occurred from "the death of Moses downwards, to that
of the revolt of the ten tribes in the reign of Rehoboam."

In the experiment in London also, a large portion of Old Testament
history, with much other knowledge, was acquired in a few hours by a boy
of about nine years of age, who, previously to the commencement of the
experiment, knew no more of God than the name;--who had no idea of a
soul, or that he should live after death;--who "had never heard of Adam,
Noah, or Abraham;"--"had no idea of a Saviour; knew nothing of heaven or
hell; had never heard of Christ, and knew not whether the name belonged
to a man or a woman." Yet this boy, in an exceedingly short time, could
give an account of many groupings in the Old Testament history.

We shall only remark, in conclusion, that if, by the proper application
of this principle, so much knowledge may be acquired by rude and
ignorant children, not only without effort, but in the enjoyment of
great satisfaction; what may not be expected in ordinary circumstances,
when the pupils are regularly trained and prepared for the purpose, and
when all the principles employed by Nature in this great work, are made
to unite their aids, and to work in harmony together for producing an
enlightened and virtuous population? This may most assuredly be gained
in an exceedingly short period of time, by a close and persevering
imitation of Nature in these educational processes.


[17] Note O.


_On the Methods by which Nature may be imitated in Communicating
Knowledge by Classification, or Analysis._

In a former chapter we had occasion to notice a fourth principle brought
into operation by Nature in the acquisition of knowledge, which is the
principle of Classification, or Analysis; and we shall now enquire how
this principle may be successfully imitated by the teacher for the
furtherance of his art.

There are two forms, which in a former chapter we endeavoured to trace
out and explain, in which this principle of Analysis appears in the
educational process of Nature. We shall here again very shortly advert
to them, beginning with that which in education is perhaps the most
important, but which hitherto has certainly been least attended
to,--that of teaching connected truths by progressive steps.

When we read a connected section of history for the first time, and then
examine the state of our knowledge respecting it, we find that we have
retained some of the ideas or truths which we read, but that we have
lost more. When that portion which we have retained is carefully
examined, we find that it consists chiefly of the more prominent
features of the narrative, with perhaps here and there occasional
groupings of isolated circumstances. We have, in fact, retained upon the
memory, little more than the general outline,--the great frame-work of
the history. There will be the beginning, the middle, and the end,
containing perhaps few of the minor details, but what is retained is all
in regular order, bound together as a continuous narrative, and,
however meagre, the whole forms in the imagination of the reader, a
distinct and connected whole. There is perhaps no more of the intended
fabric of the history erected in the mind than the mere skeleton of the
building; but this frame-work, however defective in the details, is
complete both as to shape and size, and is a correct model of the
finished building from top to bottom. This is the state of every
advanced pupil's mind, after he has for the first time closed the
reading of any portion of history or biography. If the narrative itself
has been correct, this general outline,--this great frame-work of the
history,--remains on his mind through life, without any material
alteration. Additional information afterwards will assist in filling up
the empty spaces left between the more massive materials, but it will
neither shake, nor shift them; and even the most minute details of
individual or family incidents, connected with the general narrative,
while they add additional interest, and fill up or ornament different
and separate parts, will never alter the general form of the fabric, nor
displace any of the main pillars upon which it is supported.

This is one way of illustrating this analytical process of Nature; but
for the purposes of imitating it in education it is not perhaps the
best. The idea of a regular analytical table of the history, formed of
successive branches, by successive readings, is by far the most natural
and applicable. By a first reading of a portion of history, there are
certain great leading points established in the mind of the reader,
which form the first branches of a regular analysis, and to some one or
other of which parts or divisions every circumstance of a more minute
kind connected with the history, will be found to be related. This first
great division of the history attained by the first reading, if correct,
will, and must, remain the same, whatever addition may afterwards be
made to it. By a second reading, our knowledge of the leading points
will greatly assist us in collecting and remembering many of the more
minute circumstances embodied in them, or intimately connected with
them; but even then, an ordinary mind, and more especially a young
person, will not have made himself master of all the details. A third,
and perhaps a fourth reading, will be found necessary to give him a full
command of all the minuter circumstances recorded.[18]

In endeavouring to take advantage of this principle, so extensively
employed by Nature, it is of great importance to observe, that a certain
definite effect is produced by each successive reading. A first reading
establishes in the mind of the pupil a regular frame-work of the whole
history, which it is the business of every successive reading to fill up
and complete. There is by the first course, a separation of the whole
subject into heads, forming the regular divisions of a first branch of
the analysis;--the second course tends to subdivide these again into
their several parts; and to form a second branch in this analytical
table;--and a third course, would enable the pupil to perceive and to
separate the parts of the narrative included in these several divisions,
by which there would arise a third branch, all included in the second,
and even in the first.

We have here supposed, that the pupil has been engaged with the very
same chapters in each of these several courses;--and that he read the
same words in the first course that he read in those which followed. He
had to read the whole, although he could retain but little. He had to
labour the whole field for the sake of procuring plants, which could
have been more certainly and more healthfully raised upon a square yard.
His reading for hours has produced no more knowledge than is expressed
by the first branch of the supposed analysis; and therefore, if the
teacher would but analyse the subject for the child, whether it be a
science or a history,--suppose for example, the History of Joseph,--and
give his younger pupils no more at first than the simple _outline_ of
the story, some very important advantages would be the result. In the
first place, the very difficult task of keeping the volatile mind of a
child continuously fixed to the subject during the lengthened reading of
the whole narrative will be unnecessary;--the irritation and uneasiness
which such a lengthened exercise must produce in a child will be
avoided;--time will be economised, the labour of the teacher will be
spared, and the mind of the child at the close of the exercise, instead
of being fagged and prostrated, will be found vigorous and lively. And
yet, with all this, the positive result will be the same. The child's
knowledge of the subject in this latter case, will in reality be as
extensive, and much more distinct and permanent, than in the former.

Here is the first step gained; and to attain the second, a similar
course must be pursued. Nature, who formed this first branch of the
analytical table on the minds of the first class of the children, formed
another and more extended branch in the minds of the second class. The
teacher therefore has only to take each of the branches which form the
first step, and sub-divide them into their natural heads, so as to form
a second,--and to teach this to his children in the same manner that he
taught them the former. By this means, the first class will now possess
an equal degree of knowledge with those who occupied the second;--and by
a similar process, the others would advance to the third and the fourth
classes according to circumstances.

The plan here proposed for imitating Nature by progressive steps, has
been tried with undeviating success for many years. Its efficiency, as
embracing the principle employed by Nature for the communication of
knowledge, has been repeatedly subjected to the most delicate and at the
same time the most searching experiments. By its means, in connection of
course with the catechetical exercise by which it is wrought, very
extraordinary effects have been produced even upon individuals whose
minds and circumstances were greatly below the average of common

In the experiment made upon the adult criminals in the County Jail of
Edinburgh, the pupils acquired easily and permanently a thorough
knowledge of the history contained in the Book of Genesis. "They gave a
distinct account of its prominent facts, from Adam, down to the
settlement in Goshen, and shewed by their answers, that these
circumstances were understood by them, in their proper nature and
bearings. They gave, in the next place, a connected view of the leading
doctrines of revelation; when their answers evinced, most
satisfactorily, that they apprehended, not merely each separate truth,
but that they perceived its relation to others, and possessed a
considerable knowledge of the divine system as a whole. They were also
examined upon several sections of the New Testament; where their answers
displayed an equally clear and accurate knowledge of the subject." These
persons, be it observed, belonged to a class of individuals, who are
generally considered to be peculiarly hostile to the reception of
information of this kind, and certainly who are least able to comprehend
and retain it; and all this, besides other portions of knowledge, on
which they were examined during the experiment, was communicated with
ease by about twenty hours teaching.

By the experiment made at Aberdeen, upon children the most ignorant that
the Committee of Clergymen could find among the several schools in the
city, it was ascertained, that after only nine or ten hours teaching,
they had not only received a thorough knowledge of "several sections of
New Testament History," but that they had acquired a knowledge of all
the leading events included in the Old Testament History, from "the
death of Moses, downwards to that of the revolt of the Ten Tribes in the
reign of Rehoboam. Here they distinctly stated and described all the
leading circumstances of the narrative comprised in the 'First Step,'
whose brief but comprehensive outline they appeared, in various
instances, to have filled up at home, by reading in their Bibles the
corresponding chapters."

The efficiency of this form of analytical teaching, as exhibited in
successive steps, when employed for the purpose of teaching a knowledge
of civil history and biography, was also proved with equal
certainty;--for these same children showed a thorough knowledge of that
portion of the History of England embraced by the reign of Charles I.
and the Commonwealth; and in biography, the life of the late John Newton
having been employed for the purpose, they shewed such an acquaintance
with the leading facts, and the uses to be made of them, that the
reverend gentlemen in this report of the experiment say, that the
children had "to be restrained, as the time would not permit."

In teaching the sciences, particularly the science of natural
philosophy, this method of employing the principle of analysis has been
found equally successful. Nature indeed, by the regular division of her
several works, has obviously pointed this out as the proper method of
proceeding, especially with the young; and the success that has
invariably accompanied the attempt, shews that the opinion is well

In the experiment at Aberdeen, the class of children, who were specially
selected from their companions on account of their ignorance only a few
days before, were "interrogated, scientifically, as to the production,
the nature, and the properties of several familiar objects, with the
view of shewing how admirably calculated the Lesson System is, for
furnishing the young with a knowledge of natural science and of the
arts. One of their little companions being raised before them on a
bench, they described every part of his dress, from the bonnet
downwards, detailing every process and stage of the manufacture. The
bonnet, which was put on his head for this purpose, the coat, the
silk-handkerchief, the cotton vest, were all traced respectively from
the sheep, the egg of the silk-worm, and the cotton-pod. The buttons,
which were of brass, were stated to be a composition of copper and zinc,
which were separately and scientifically described, with the reasons
assigned, (as good as could be given,) for their admixture, in the
composition of brass." "A lady's parasol, and a gentleman's watch were
described in the same manner. The ivory knob, the brass crampet, the
bamboo, the whalebone, the silk, were no sooner adverted to, than they
were scientifically described. When their attention was called to the
seals of the gentleman's watch, they immediately said, 'These are of
pure, and those of jeweller's gold,' and described the difference. The
steel ring was traced to the iron-stone in the mine, with a description
of the mode of separating the metal from its combinations. The processes
requisite for the preparation of wrought-iron from the cast-iron, and of
steel from the wrought-iron, with the distinguishing properties of each
of these metals, were accurately described, and some practical lessons
drawn from these properties; such as, that a knife ought never to be put
into the fire, and that a razor should be dipped in warm water previous
to its being used. Various articles were collected from individuals in
the meeting, and successively presented to them, all of which they
described. India-rubber, cork, sponge, pocket combs, &c. A small pocket
thermometer, with its tube and its mercury, its principles and use, and
even the Turkey-leather on the cover, were all fully described. After
explaining the nature and properties of coal-gas, one of the boys
stated to the meeting, that since the commencement of this experiment,
he had himself attempted, and succeeded in making gas-light by means of
a tobacco-pipe;--his method of doing which he also described."

The other form in which the principle of Analysis may, in imitation of
Nature, be successfully employed in communicating knowledge to the
young, is not to be considered as new, although the working of the
principle may not have been very clearly perceived, or systematically
regulated. It is seen most simply perhaps in the division of any
subject,--a sermon for example--into its great general heads; and then
endeavouring to illustrate these, by sub-dividing each into its several
particulars. By this means the whole subject is bound together, the
judgment is healthfully exercised, and the memory is greatly assisted in
making use of the information communicated.

It is upon this plan that the several discourses and speeches in the
Acts of the Apostles have been analysed, as an introduction to the
teaching of the epistles to the young.[19] Upon the same principle
depends the success of the "Analysis of Prayer," of which we shall
afterwards have to speak; and it is by means of this principle, in
connection with the successive steps, that the several departments of
natural philosophy are proposed to be taught.

The efficiency of the principle in this form, as applied to the teaching
of natural philosophy to mere school boys, has been ascertained by
numerous experiments, of which the one in Aberdeen, already alluded to,
has afforded good evidence. But the experiment conducted in Newry, on
account of several concurrent circumstances, is still more remarkable
and appropriate, and to it therefore we propose briefly to refer.

"In the year 1830, the writer, in passing through the town of Newry on
his way to Dublin, was waited upon by several Sunday school teachers,
and was requested to afford them some information as to teaching their
schools, and for that purpose to hold a meeting with them and their
fellow teachers, before leaving the place. To this he readily agreed;
but as he intended to go to Dublin by the coach, which passed through
Newry in the afternoon, the meeting had to take place that same day at
two o'clock. At that meeting, the Earl of Kilmorey and a party of his
friends were very unexpectedly present; and they, after the business of
the meeting was over, joined with the others in requesting him to
postpone his departure, and to hold a public meeting on the following
Tuesday, of which due intimation would be given, and many teachers in
the neighbourhood, who must otherwise be greatly disappointed, would be
able to attend." To this request, accordingly, he at once acceded.

"In visiting the schools next day, the propriety of preparing a class or
two of children for the public meeting was suggested and approved of;
and the day-teacher being applied to, gave Mr Gall a list of six of his
boys for the purpose. With these children he met on Monday; and after
instructing them in the doctrines of the Gospel, and teaching them how
to draw lessons from Scripture, he began to teach them some parts of
natural philosophy, and to draw lessons also from these. Their aptness,
and eagerness to learn, suggested the idea of selecting one of the
sciences, and confining their attention principally to it, for the
purpose of ascertaining how much of the really useful parts of it they
could acquire and learn to use, in the short space of time which must
intervene between that period and the hour of meeting. Considering what
would be most useful and interesting, rather than what would be most
easy, he hastily fixed on the science of anatomy and physiology, and
resolved to mark the time during which they were engaged with him in
learning it. These lessons were altogether oral and catechetical,--as
neither he nor the children at that time had any books to assist them in
their labours.

"The method adopted by Mr Gall in communicating a knowledge of this
important and difficult science to these school-boys, was strictly
analytical;--classifying and connecting every part of his subject, and
bringing out the several branches of the analysis in natural order, so
that the connection of all the parts was easily seen, and of course well
remembered. An illustration of his method may induce some parents to try
it themselves.

"He first directed their attention to the bones, and taught them in a
few words their nature and uses, as the pillars and safeguards of the
body;--the shank, the joint, and the ligaments, forming the branches of
this part of the analysis. He then led them to imagine these bones
clothed with the fleshy parts, or muscles, of which the mass, the
ligaments, and the sinews, formed the branches. He explained the nature
of their contraction; and shewed them, that the muscles being fastened
at one end by the ligament to a bone, its contraction pulled the sinew
at the other, and thus bent the joint which lay between them.--He then
taught them the nature and uses of the several viscera, which occupy the
chest and belly, and their connection with each other. This prepared the
way for considering the nature of the fluids of the body, particularly
the blood, and its circulation from the heart and lungs by the arteries,
and to them again by the veins, with the pulsation of the one, and the
valves of the other. The passage of the blood through the lungs, and the
uses of the air-cells and blood-vessels in that organ were described;
when the boys, (having previously had a lesson on the nature of water,
atmospheric air, and the gases,) readily understood the importance of
bringing the oxygen into contact with the blood, for its renovation
from the venous to the arterial state. The nature of the stomach and of
digestion, of the intestines, lacteals, and absorbents, was next
explained, more in regard to their nature than their names,--which last
were most difficult to remember;--but the knowledge of the function,
invariably assisted the memory in recalling the name of the organ. They
were next made acquainted with the brain, the spinal cord, and the
nervous system generally, as the source of motion in the muscles, and
the medium of sensation in conveying intelligence from the several
organs of sense to the brain, by which alone the soul, in some way
unknown, receives intelligence of outward objects. This prepared the way
for an account of the organs of sense, and the mechanism of their parts;
and lastly, they were made acquainted with the integuments, skin, hair,
and nails, with the most obvious of their peculiarities.--On all these
they were assiduously and repeatedly catechised, till the truths were
not only understood, but were in some degree familiar to them. In this
they were greatly assisted by a consideration of their own bodies; which
Mr Gall took care to make a kind of text-book, not only for making him
better understood, but for enabling them more easily and permanently to
remember what he told them. When he shewed them, by their hands, feet,
and face, the ramifications of the blood-vessels and nerves,--the
mechanism of the joints,--the contraction of the various muscles,--the
situation and particular uses of which he himself did not even know, but
which were nevertheless moved at their own will, and whenever they
pleased,--the young anatomists were greatly pleased and astonished; and
this added to their eagerness for farther information, and to their zeal
in shewing that they understood, and were able again to communicate it.

"These preparatory meetings were never protracted to any great extent,
as the whole time was divided into three or four portions,--the boys
being dismissed to think over the subject, (for they had nothing to
read,) and to meet again at a certain hour. The watch was again
produced, and the time marked; and when the whole period occupied by
this science and its connections was added together, it amounted to two
hours and a half exactly. One of these lessons, and the longest, was
given during a stroll in the fields.

"The public meeting of parents and teachers was held at Newry on the 5th
of October 1830, when the above class, with others, were examined on the
religious knowledge which had been communicated to them on the previous
days, with its lessons and uses; after which the six boys were taken by
themselves, and thoroughly and searchingly catechised on their knowledge
of the anatomy and physiology of the human body. They were examined
first on the nature and uses of the bones, their shapes, substance,
joints, and ligaments. Then on the nature and offices of the muscles,
with their blood-vessels, nerves, ligaments, sinews, and motions;--the
uses of the several viscera;--the heart with its pulsations, its power,
its ventricles and auricles, and their several uses;--the lungs, with
their air-cells, blood-vessels, and their use in arterializing the
blood;--the stomach, intestines, &c. with their peristaltic motions,
lacteals, &c.;--the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, with their
connections, ramifications, and uses;--the senses, with their several
organs, their mechanism, and their manner of acting. On all these they
were questioned, and cross-questioned, in every variety of form: And
that the audience might be satisfied that this was not a mere catalogue
of names, but that in fact the physiology of the several parts was
really known, and would be remembered, even if the names of the organs
should be forgotten, they were made repeatedly to traverse the
connecting links of the analysis forward from the root, through its
several branches, to the extreme limit in the ultimate effect; and, at
other times backward, from the ultimate effect to the primitive organ,
or part of the body from which it took its origin. For example, they
could readily trace forward the movement of the arm joint, or any other
joint, from the ligament of the muscle at its junction with the bone,
through its contraction by the nerve at the fiat of the will, by which
the sinew of the muscle, fastened at the opposite side of the joint, is
pulled, and the joint bent;--or they could trace backward any of the
operations of the senses,--the sight, for example, from the object seen,
through the coats of the eye, to the inverted picture of it formed upon
the retina, which communicated the sensation to the optic nerve, by
which it was conveyed to the brain. In all which they invariably
succeeded, and shewed that the whole was clearly and connectedly

"When this had been minutely and extensively done on the several parts
of the body, some medical gentlemen who were present were requested to
catechise them on any of the topics they had learnt, for the purpose of
assuring themselves and the audience that the children really and
familiarly understood all that they had been catechised upon. One of the
medical gentlemen, for himself and the others present, then stated
publicly to the meeting, that the extent of the children's knowledge of
this difficult science was beyond any thing that they could have
conceived. And afterwards affirmed, that he had seen students who had
attended the medical classes for six months, who did not know so much of
the human body as these children now did."

This experiment became more remarkable from a circumstance which took
place within a few days afterwards, and which tended still more strongly
to prove the permanence and efficiency of this method of imitating
Nature; shewing, not only that truth when communicated as Nature
directs, is easily received, and permanently retained upon the memory,
but that all such truths when thus communicated, become more and more
familiar to the mind, and more decidedly under the controul, and at the
command of the will. The circumstance is thus recorded in the account of
the experiment[20] from which we have already quoted.

"At the close of the meeting, Mr Gall took farewell of his young
friends, not expecting to have the pleasure of seeing them again; and
(after a promised visit to Ravenstile,) he proceeded on the following
Thursday to Rostrevor, where he found a numerous audience, (publicly
called together by Lady Lifford, the Rev. Mr Jacobs, and others, to
receive him,) already assembled.

"Here, in the course of teaching a class of children brought to him for
the first time, and explaining the nature and capabilities of the
system, reference was made to the above experiment only a few days
before in their neighbourhood at Newry. Two gentlemen,[21] officially
and intimately connected with the Kildare Place Society of Dublin, being
accidentally present, were at their own desire introduced to Mr Gall by
a clerical friend after the close of the exercises. The circumstances of
the Newry experiment, which had been mentioned during the meeting, were
strongly doubted, till affirmed by the clerical friend who introduced
them; who, having been present and witnessed it, assured them that the
circumstances connected with the event had not been exaggerated. They
then stated, that it must of necessity have been a mere transient
glimpse received of the science by the children; which, being easily
got, would be as easily lost; and that its evanescent nature would
without all question be found, by their almost immediately having
forgotten the whole of what had been told them. Mr Gall, however,
assured them, that so far from that being the case, he was convinced,
from long experience, that the information communicated would be much
more lasting than that received in any other way. That the impressions,
so repeatedly made upon their minds by the _catechetical exercises_,
would remain with them very likely through life; while the effect of the
_analytical mode_, by which he had linked the whole together, would
prevent any of the important branches from ever being separated from the
rest. If, therefore, they remembered any of the truths, they would most
probably remember all. And besides, he shewed, that the daily use, in
the ordinary business of life, which they would find for the lessons
from the truths taught, would revive part, and perhaps the whole, upon
their memories every day. But as it was of importance that they should
be satisfied, and to set the matter at rest, he agreed _to call the boys
unexpectedly together_ at another public meeting in Newry, where they
might be present and judge for themselves; and without seeing or talking
with the boys, he would examine them again publicly, and as extensively
as before; when he was convinced they would shew, that the whole was as
fresh on their memories as when they at first received it. In short,
that they would be able to undergo the most searching ordeal, with
equal, if not greater ease, than they had done formerly.

"This was accordingly done. A meeting took place next day, equally
respectable, and perhaps more numerous than the former, to which the
boys were brought from their school, without preparation, or knowing
what they were to be asked. They were then more fully and searchingly
examined than at first; and there being more time, they were much longer
under the exercise. It was then found, that the information formerly
communicated was not only remembered, but that the several truths were
much more familiar, in themselves and in their connection with each
other, than they had been at the former meeting. This had evidently
arisen from their own frequent meditations upon them since that time,
and their application of the several lessons, either with one another,
their parents, or themselves. The medical gentlemen were again present,
and professed themselves equally pleased."

From the number and variety of these facts, which might be indefinitely
extended, it is obvious, that a new path lies open to the Educationist,
which, as yet, has been scarcely entered upon. The same amount of
success is at the command of every teacher who will follow in the same
course, and keep rigidly in the path pointed out to him by Nature.


[18] Note P.

[19] Note Q.

[20] Complete Directory for Sunday School Teachers, vol. i. p. 267, and
Effects of the Lesson System, p. 37.

[21] Counsellor Jackson, M. P. Secretary to the Kildare Place Society,
and Mr Hamilton, brother-in-law to the Duke of Wellington, one of the


_On the Imitation of Nature in Teaching the Practical Use of Knowledge._

The third step in the educational process of Nature we have found to be,
the training of her pupil to the practical use of his knowledge.--All
her other processes, we have seen from numerous circumstances, are
merely preparatory and subservient to this; and therefore, the attempt
at imitation here by the teacher is of corresponding importance. The
practical application of knowledge must be the great end of all the
pupil's learning; and the parent or teacher should conduct his exercises
and labours in such a manner as shall be most likely to attain it. The
powers of the mind are to be cultivated;--but they are to be cultivated
chiefly that the pupil may be able to collect and make use of his
knowledge:--And knowledge is to be pursued and stored up;--but this is
to be done that it may remain at his command, and be readily put to use
when it is required. To suppose any thing else, is to suppose something
directly opposed to all the indications of Nature, and to the plainest
suggestions both of reason and experience.

If in this department then, the teacher is to imitate Nature with
effect, there are two preliminary objects of which he ought never to
lose sight. The first is, that he studiously select from the numerous
subjects which may form the staple of education, those only, or at least
chiefly, which are to be most useful, and which may most easily and most
frequently be put to use by the pupil;--and the second is, that whatever
be the truth or the subject taught, the child should, at the time of
learning, be instructed in the methods and the circumstances in which it
may be used. To neglect these preliminary points, is really to betray
the cause of education, and, besides inflicting a lasting injury on the
young, to deceive the public.

In our enquiries into Nature's method of applying knowledge, we found,
in a former chapter, that she employs two distinct agencies in the work.
The one we denominated the Natural, or Common Sense; and the other is
the Conscience, or Moral Sense:--the one appearing to regulate our
knowledge in so far as it refers to the promotion of our own personal
and physical comforts; and the other, in so far as it refers to the
rights and the well-being of others, and to our own moral good. The
method which she employs in working out these two principles, is, as we
before explained, very nearly the same; consisting of the perception of
some useful truth,--the deduction of a lesson from that truth,--and the
application of that lesson to corresponding circumstances. On that
account, our attempts to imitate her operations as exhibited by the one,
will, in form, be nearly the same as in the other. We shall here,
therefore, attend to the methods by which Nature may be successfully
imitated under both agencies, and shall then state a few illustrations
and facts which are more peculiarly applicable to each in particular.

Before doing this, however, we cannot help once more pressing upon the
mind of all connected with education, the great importance--the
necessity--of that part of the subject upon which we are now to enter.
We have said, and we again repeat, that _this_ is education; and every
thing else taught to a child is, or ought to be, either preliminary or
supplementary;--_belonging_ to education, perhaps, but not education
itself. It is _practice_, and not _theory_, that constitutes the basis
of all improvement, whether in the arts, or in morals and religion; and
it is to this practical application of what he learns, that every child
should be trained, by whatever name the mode of doing so may be known.
All our blessings are destined to come to us by the use of proper means;
and this general principle applies both to temporal and spiritual
matters. Now "the use of means," is only another mode of expressing "the
practical application of knowledge." And if so, what are we to think of
the philosophy or the candour of the person, who is apparently the
friend of education, but who remains indifferent or hostile to the thing
itself, merely because it is presented to him under another name. He may
be a zealous advocate for the spread of knowledge;--but that is not
education.--Knowledge is but the _means_,--the application of it is the
_end_; and when therefore he stops short at the communication of
knowledge, while he is indifferent to the teaching of its use, he
endangers the whole of his previous labour. One single truth put to use,
is of more real value to a child than a thousand are, as long as they
remain unused; and of this, every friend of the young ought to be
convinced. Our health, our food, and our general happiness depend, not
on knowledge _received_, but on knowledge _applied_; and therefore, to
teach knowledge that is inapplicable or useless, or to teach useful
knowledge without teaching at the same time how it may be put to use by
the pupil, is neither reasonable nor just. Hence the importance of our
present investigation; and hence we have no hesitation in saying, that
the enquiry, "How can Nature be most successfully imitated in her
application of knowledge?" is the most momentous question that can be
put by the teacher; and a successful answer will constitute the most
precious boon that can be afforded to education. To assist in this
enquiry is the design of the present chapter; and we shall accordingly
examine a little more in detail the circumstances that take place in the
experience of the young, when they are induced to apply their knowledge
under the guidance of Nature, and without another teacher.

For this purpose, let us suppose two children about to cross a piece of
soft ground. The one goes forward, and his foot sinks in the mud. Does
the other follow him? No indeed. The most stupid child we could find, if
within the limits of sanity, would immediately stand still, or seek a
passage at another point. Here then is an example of the way in which
children, while entirely under the guidance of Nature, make use of their
knowledge, by applying the principle of which we are here speaking in
cases of urgency and danger; and we shall now endeavour to analyse the
process, that we may the more readily arrive at some exercise, by which
it may be artificially imitated, whether the application be urgent and
required at the moment or not.

We have supposed one child going forward on the soft ground, while the
other is slowly following him. When the foot of the first sinks, the
other instantly stands still; and a spectator can perceive, better
perhaps than the child himself, that something like the following mental
process takes place on the occasion. The child thinks with himself,
"Tom's foot has sunk; if I go forward, I also will sink; I will
therefore stand still, or cross at another place." This is an exact
parallel to thousands of similar instances which come under the notice
of parents and others every day; and is a process quite familiar to
adults who have paid any attention to the operation of their own minds
when similarly circumstanced. When it is analysed, we find it to
consist, as shewn in a former chapter, of three distinct parts, not one
of which can be left out if the effect is to be produced. There is
always, at the commencement of such an operation, the knowledge of some
fact; "Tom's foot has sunk." There is, secondly, an inference or lesson
drawn from this knowledge, "If I go forward, I also will sink." And
there is, thirdly, the practical application of that lesson, or
inference, to the child's present circumstances: "I will stand still, or
cross at another place."

It is this process, or one in every point similar, that takes place in
the mind, either of the young or the old, whenever they apply the facts
gleaned by observation or experience for the guidance of their conduct.
Now what we are at present in search of, is an exercise applicable to
_reading_, as well as to observation;--to the _school_, as well as to
the play ground or the parlour;--and to knowledge whose use may not be
required at the instant, as well as that to which we are driven by

The desideratum here desired is to be found by the teacher in the
method, now very extensively known, of drawing lessons from useful
truths, and then applying them to the future probable circumstances of
the pupils. For example, when a child reads, or is told that Jacob was
punished by God for cheating his brother and telling a lie, the great
object of the parent or teacher is to render these truths
_practical_,--which the question, "What does that teach you?" never
fails to do. The child, as soon as he knows the design of his teacher in
communicating practical truths, and is asked the above question, will
tell him, that he ought never to cheat his neighbour, or tell a lie. The
application of these lessons, when thus established as a rule of duty
founded on Scripture, is as extensive as the circumstances in which they
may be required are various;--and the teacher has only to suppose such
a case, and to ask his pupil, if he were placed in these circumstances,
what he should do. The dullest of his children will at once perceive the
duty, and the source from which he derives confidence in performing it.

There is no difficulty, as we have seen, in drawing and applying
practical lessons in cases of urgency, where experience and the common
sense of the individual prompt him to it;--and this attempt to imitate
Nature in less urgent cases, and especially in hearing, or in the more
artificial operation of reading, has been found in experience to be
completely successful. We shall endeavour to point this out by a few
familiar examples.

Let us for this purpose suppose, that one of the boys formerly mentioned
is accompanied by his teacher, instead of his companion, and is
approaching the soft ground which lies between them and the house.
Before they arrive at the spot, his teacher tells him, that the marsh
before them is so soft that even a child's foot would sink if he
attempted to tread upon it. The boy might hear, and perfectly understand
the truth, and yet he might not at the time think of the use to which it
ought to be put. But if the teacher shall immediately add, "What does
that teach you?"--his attention would instantly be called, not so much
to the truth itself, as to the uses which ought to be made of it, and
his answer in such a plain case would be ready, "We must not cross
there, but seek a road to the house by some other way." Now here the
fact was verbally communicated; and although the object was in sight,
and the use of the fact might in some measure have been anticipated so
as to suggest the answer, yet a little consideration will shew, that a
similar effect would have been produced by the question, had the parties
been in the house, or had the truth been derived from reading, and not
from the oral communication of the teacher.

It is the want of something like this in the acquisition of truth by
books, which renders that kind of knowledge in general of so little
practical benefit. The truths and facts learned while attending school,
are too often received as mere abstractions, without reference to their
uses, or to the personal application of those uses to the circumstances
of the child or his companions. Events daily occur in which the pupil's
knowledge might be of important service;--but the benefits to be derived
from it not having been taught, and the method of applying the facts
which he has acquired by reading not having been explained,--the
knowledge and its uses are seldom seen together, and the practical
benefit of the teaching is accordingly lost. This at once accounts for
the very remarkable circumstance, that children, and not unfrequently
adults also, derive far more benefit from the scanty knowledge which
they have gleaned by observation and experience, than from the many
thousands of highly useful facts which have again and again been pressed
upon their notice by reading and study. In almost every case Nature
prompts us, as we have seen, to turn to our own benefit the knowledge
which she has imparted; but as the mode of teaching reading, which is
the _artificial_ method of acquiring information, often overlooks the
use we are to make of it, we remain satisfied with the knowledge itself,
and do not think of its application. To illustrate this fact in some
measure, let us suppose a basket of filberts set down for the use of a
company of boys, and that one of them tries to crack the shells with his
front teeth. He fails. But he sees his companions put the nuts farther
back in the mouth, and succeed. Does he lose his share, by continuing to
misapply the lever-power provided for him by Nature?--No indeed. He, by
a single observation, at once draws and applies the lesson;--he
immediately cracks his nuts as readily as his companions, and he
continues to do so all his lifetime after. But the same boy may have,
that very forenoon, been reading a treatise on the power of the lever,
and might read it again and again without considering himself at all
interested in the matter, or thinking it probable that he ever would.
His reading, without the application we are here recommending, would
never have led him to perceive the slightest similarity between the
fulcrum of the lever, and the insertion of his jaw; or any connection
between the lesson of the school, and the employment of the
parlour:--But that would.

This is but one of a thousand examples that might be given, of the evils
arising from the non-application of knowledge in reading, and which are
applicable, not to children merely, but also to adults. The drawing and
applying of lessons, the exercise which we are here recommending, has
been found a valuable remedy for this defect in ordinary reading. The
object of the teacher by its use, is to accomplish in the pupil by
_reading_, what we have shewn Nature so frequently does by
_observation_;--that is, to train the child to apply for his own use, or
the use of others, those truths which he acquires from his _book_, in
the same way that he does those which he derives from _experience_. To
illustrate this, we shall instance a few cases of every day occurrence,
in which the question, "What does this teach you?" when supplemented to
the fact communicated, will almost invariably answer the purpose
desired, whether the truth from which the lesson is to be drawn, has
been received by observation, by oral instruction, or by reading.

When an observing well-disposed child sees a school-fellow praised and
rewarded for being obliging and kind to the aged or the poor, there is
formed in the mind of that child, more or less distinctly, a resolution
to follow the example on the first opportunity. Here is the fact and the
lesson, with the application in prospect. This whole feeling may be
faint and evanescent, but it is real; and it only wants the cultivating
hand of the teacher to arrest it, and to render it permanent.
Accordingly, if on the child hearing the praise given to his companion
for being kind and obliging to the poor, he had at the time been asked,
"What does that teach you?" the lesson suggested by Nature would
instantly have assumed a tangible form; and in communicating the answer
to the teacher, both the truth and the lesson would have been brought
more distinctly before the mind, and the reply, "I should be kind and
obliging to the poor," would tend to fix the duty on the memory, and
would be a good preparation for putting it in practice when the next
occasion should occur.

Again, if another thoughtful and well disposed child sees a companion
severely punished for telling a lie, the question, "What does that teach
me?" is in some shape or degree formed in his mind, and his resolution,
however faint, is taken to avoid that sin in future. This, it is
obvious, is nothing more than a practical answer to the above question,
forced upon the child by the directness of the circumstances, but which
would not have so readily made its appearance, or produced its effect,
in cases of a less obtrusive kind, or in one of more remote application;
and every person must see, that the beneficial effects desired would
have been more definite, more effectual, and much more permanent, had
this faint indication of Nature's intention been followed up by orally
asking the question at the child, and requiring him audibly to return an

Let us once more suppose a child in the act of reading the history of
Cain and Abel, in the manner in which it is commonly read by the young,
and that the child thoroughly understands all the circumstances. He may
be deeply interested in the story, while the uses to be made of it may
not be very clearly perceived. But if, after reading any one of the
moral circumstances, such as "Cain hated his brother," or after having
it announced to him by the teacher, he was asked, "What does that teach
you?" the practical use of the truth would at once be forced upon his
mind, and he would now very readily answer, "It teaches me that I should
not hate my brother." In this case also, it is quite obvious, that
without such a question having been proposed, and the answer to it
given, the practical uses of the truth recorded might have been
altogether overlooked; and even although they had not, still the
question and its answer will always have the effect of making them stand
out much more prominently before the mind, and will enable the memory to
hold them more tenaciously, and bring them forth more readily for
practice, than if such an operation had been neglected. Hence the great
importance of training the young by this exercise early to perceive the
uses of every kind of knowledge, particularly Scriptural knowledge;
because the habit formed in youth, will continue to render every useful
truth of practical benefit during life.

We may remark here, that the exercise is not limited in its application
to the young. For if an adult were first told, that the squalid beggar
before him, though once respectable and rich, had made himself wretched
by a course of idleness and dissipation, and were then asked, "What does
that teach you?" he would instantly perceive the lesson, and would be
stimulated to apply it. When, in like manner, the farmer is told that
his neighbour has ruined himself by over-cropping his ground; or the
iron master, that the use of the hot-blast has doubled the profits of
his rival; a similar question would at once lead to the legitimate
conclusion, and most likely to the proper conduct.

In all these examples, the operation of mind which we have endeavoured
to describe, is so exceedingly simple, that it is perhaps difficult to
decide how much is the work of Nature, and how much belongs to the
exercise here recommended. This at once proves its efficiency, as an
imitation of her process, in following her in the path which she has
here pointed out; and it at the same time recommends itself as strictly
accordant with observation and experience. The teacher then, in order to
render the knowledge he communicates useful, has only to do regularly
and by system, that which, under the direction of Nature, every
intelligent and enquiring mind in its best moments does for itself.
Wherever a useful truth has been communicated in the school or family,
or a moral act or precept has been read or announced, the question by
the parent or the teacher, "What does that teach you?" will lead the
pupil to reflection, not only on its nature, but on its use; and the
ability to do so, as we shall afterwards see, may be acquired by almost
any individual with ease. Regular training in this way, leads directly
to habits of reflection and observation, which are of themselves of
great value; but which, when found acting in connection with the desire
and ability to turn every truth observed into a practical channel,
become doubly estimable, and a public blessing. The pupil therefore
ought early to be trained of himself to supplement the question, "What
does this teach me?" or, "What can I learn from this?" to every
circumstance or truth to which his attention is called; because the
ability to answer it forms the chief, if not the only correct measure of
a well educated person. In proof of this it is only necessary to remark,
that as it is not the man who has accumulated the greatest amount of
anatomical and surgical knowledge, but he who can make the best use of
it, that is really the best surgeon; so it is not the man who has
_acquired_ the largest portion of knowledge, but he who _can make the
best use_ of the largest portion, that is the best scholar. Hence it is,
that all the exercises in a child's education should have in view the
practical use of what he learns, and of what he is to continue through
life to learn, as the great end to which all his learning should be

The moral advantages likely to result from the general adoption of this
mode of teaching useful knowledge are exceedingly cheering, and the only
surprise is, that it has been so long overlooked. That the principle,
though not directly applied to the purposes of education, was well
known, and frequently practised by our forefathers, appears obvious from
many of their valuable writings. One beautiful example of its
application is familiar to thousands, though not always perceived, in
the illustration given of the Lord's prayer towards the close of the
Assembly's Larger and Shorter Catechisms. The study of the lessons there
drawn from the truths stated or implied in that prayer, will afford a
better idea of the value of this mode of teaching, than perhaps any
farther explanation we could give, and to these therefore we refer the

Before closing these general observations upon the value and necessity
of this method of training the young to the practical use of knowledge,
there is a circumstance which should not be omitted, as it tends to
double all the advantages of the exercise, both to the teacher and the
pupil. It will be found in general, especially in morals, that every
practical lesson that is drawn from a truth or passage, actually
embodies two,--both of which are equally legitimate and connected with
the subject. There is always a _negative_ lesson implied, when the
_positive_ lesson is expressed; and there is in like manner a _positive_
implied, whenever it is the _negative_ that is expressed. As for
example, when the child, from the history of Cain and Abel, draws the
negative lesson that he should _not hate_ his brother; the opposite of
that lesson is equally binding in the positive form, that he should
_love_ his brother. And when, from the history of Job, the positive
lesson is drawn that we ought to be patient; the negative of that lesson
becomes equally binding, and the child may, by the very same fact, be
taught and enjoined not to be fretful, discontented, or impatient,
during sickness or trouble. Of this method of multiplying the practical
uses of knowledge, we have a most appropriate example in the Assembly's
Larger and Shorter Catechisms, where the illustrations given of the
decalogue are conducted upon this important principle, and in a similar


_On the Imitation of Nature in Teaching the Use of Knowledge by means of
the Animal or Common Sense._

A large portion of what has been advanced in the foregoing chapter, has
reference to the practical application of all kinds of knowledge,
whether by the Animal or Moral sense; and we shall here offer a few
additional remarks on the teaching of those branches which are more
immediately connected with the former.

When a person is sent to learn an art or trade, such as a carpenter, he
is not sent to hear lectures, or to get merely an abstract knowledge of
the several truths connected with it; but he is sent to practise the
little knowledge that he is able of himself to pick up. His is a
practical learning; ninety-nine parts in every hundred being employed in
the practice, for one that is employed in acquiring the abstract
principles of his occupation. When, on the contrary, a child is sent to
school, to prepare him for this practical application of his knowledge,
the former proportions are generally reversed, and ninety-nine parts of
his time and labour are taken up in attaining abstract knowledge, for
one that is occupied in assisting him to reduce it to practice. Both
modes of teaching the boy are obviously wrong. He would, when sent to
it, learn his business in much less time by a previous acquaintance with
its principles; and all these ought to have been furnished him as a
part of his general knowledge while he attended the school. Such
information, indeed, ought to have formed a large portion of his
education;--and it will be a matter of surprise to every one who closely
considers the subject, how soon and how easily the principles, even of
so complicated a trade as a carpenter, may be acquired when they are
taught in the right way, and at the proper time. A few of the simplest
principles in mechanics practically learned,--a knowledge of the
strength and adhesion of bodies,--of the nature of edge tools,--and the
importance of accuracy and caution, might have been made familiar to him
while attending his studies; and if carefully and constantly reduced to
practice, these would have been of the greatest service to him when
called to the work-shop.

The methods by which natural philosophy ought to be taught in schools,
must partake of all the laws which Nature employs in the several parts
of her teaching. Individuation, Grouping, and especially Analysis, must
be rigidly attended to. By dividing all the subjects of general
knowledge into the two grand divisions of Terrestrial and Celestial, and
these again into their several parts, the whole field of useful
knowledge would be mapped out, and connected together, so that each
subject would occupy a distinct place of its own, and be readily found
when it was required. The facts, or at least the most useful facts
connected with each of these, would very soon be communicated; and when
turned into a popular and useful form, by drawing and applying the
corresponding lessons, the ease and delight of laying up these precious
stores of useful knowledge by children, will not be easily conceived by
those who have not witnessed it.

With respect to _the ease_ with which this method of communicating
knowledge can be accomplished, we may remark in general, that when a
principle has been explained, and has become familiar to the child, all
the phenomena arising out of it, when pointed out, are readily perceived
and retained upon the memory in connection with it. For example, by a
knowledge of the principle which teaches that fluids press equally on
all sides, when considered in connection with the weight of the
atmosphere, a child, with very little trouble, would be put into the
full possession of the cause of many facts in natural philosophy,
exceedingly dissimilar in their appearance, but which are all mastered
with ease and intelligence by a knowledge of this law. When the
principle and its mode of working have been explained, the child is
provided with a key, by which he may, in the exercise of his own powers,
unlock one by one all the mysterious phenomena of the air and common
pump, the cupping-glass, the barometer, the old steam and fire engine,
the toy sucker and pop-gun, the walking of a fly on the ceiling, the
ascent of smoke in the chimney, the sipping of tea from a cup, the
sucking of a wound, and the true cause of the inspiration and expiration
of the air in breathing. To teach these singly, would obviously be
exceedingly troublesome to the teacher, and laborious for the child; but
when thus linked together, as similar effects from the same cause, they
are understood at once, and each of them helps to illustrate and explain
all the others. They are received without confusion, and are remembered
without difficulty. All this may in general be done even with children,
as we shall immediately prove, by the method recommended above, of
requiring, after the illustration of the principle, the lessons which it
is calculated to teach.

The results of this simple method of imitating Nature in one of the most
valuable of her processes, have been found remarkably uniform and
successful; and when it shall be regularly brought into operation in
connection with the other parts of the system, it promises to be still
more valuable and extensive. But even already, with all the
disadvantages of time, place, and persons, the importance and
efficiency of the exercise have been highly satisfactory. We shall
shortly advert to a few instances of its success, which have been
publicly exhibited and recorded.

The criminals in the jail of Edinburgh, after three weeks teaching, had
acquired a considerable degree of expertness in perceiving and drawing
lessons from the moral circumstances which they read from Scripture. In
the report of that experiment, the examinators say, "They gave a
distinct account, (from the book of Genesis,) of the prominent facts,
from Adam, down to the settlement in Goshen, and shewed by their
answers, that the circumstances were understood by them, in their proper
nature and bearings. From each peculiar circumstance, they deduced an
appropriate lesson, calculated to guide their conduct, when placed in a
like, or analogous situation. It is within the truth to allege, that in
this part of their examination, they submitted upwards of fifty palpable
lessons, that cannot fail, we would conceive, hereafter to have a
powerful influence upon their affections and deportment."

In the experiments both in Newry and London, the children were found
quite adequate to the exercise; and in the latter instance, three
children, who at their first lesson did not know they had a soul, were
able to perceive and to draw lessons from almost any moral truth or fact
presented to them. This they did repeatedly when publicly examined by
the Committee of the London Sunday School Union, in presence of a large
body of clergymen, and a numerous congregation in the Poultry Chapel.
But we shall at present direct attention more particularly to the
children selected from the several schools in Aberdeen, as given in the
Report by Principal Jack, and the Professors and Clergymen in that
place. After mentioning, that these children, so very ignorant only
eight days before, had acquired a thorough acquaintance with the
leading facts in Old Testament History, they say, "From the various
incidents in the Sacred Record, with which they had thus been brought so
closely into contact, they drew, as they proceeded, a variety of
practical lessons, evincing, that they clearly perceived, not only the
nature and qualities of the actions, whether good or evil, of the
persons there set before them, but the use that ought to be made of such
descriptions of character, as examples or warnings, intended for
application to the ordinary business of life.

"They were next examined, in the same way, on several sections of the
New Testament, from which they had also learned to point out the
practical lessons, so important and necessary for the regulation of the
heart and life. The Meeting, as well as this Committee, were surprised
at the minute and accurate acquaintance which they displayed with the
multiplicity of objects presented to them,--at the great extent of the
record over which they had travelled,--and at the facility with which
they seemed to draw useful lessons from almost every occurrence
mentioned in the passages which they had read."

They were able also to apply this same principle,--the practical
application of useful knowledge,--to the perusal of civil history, and
also biography. The report states, that "they were examined on that
portion of the History of England, embraced by the reign of Charles I.
and the Commonwealth; and from the details of this period, they drew
from the _same circumstances_, or announcements, political, domestic,
and personal lessons, as these applied to a nation, to a family, and to
individuals;--lessons which it ought be the leading design of history to
furnish, though, both by the writers and readers of history, this
Committee are sorry to say, they are too generally overlooked.

"They were then examined on biography,--the Life of the late Rev. John
Newton being chosen for that purpose; from whose history they also drew
some very useful practical lessons, and seemed very desirous of
enlarging, but had to be restrained, as the time would not permit."

The practicability and the importance of teaching children to apply the
same valuable principle to every branch and portion of natural
philosophy were also ascertained. The same report, after stating the
fact, that the children scientifically described to the meeting numerous
objects presented to them from the several kingdoms of Nature, goes on
to say, that "here also they found no want of capacity or of materials
for practical lessons. A boy, after describing copper as possessing
poisonous qualities, and stating, that cooking utensils, as well as
money, were made of it, was asked what practical lessons he could draw
from these circumstances, replied, That no person should put halfpence
in his mouth; and that people should take care to keep clean pans and

The common school boys in Newry also found no difficulty in the
exercise, as applied to the abstruse and difficult sciences of anatomy
and physiology. The account of that experiment, says, that they were
"examined as to the _uses_ which they ought to make of all this
information, by drawing practical lessons from the several truths.
Accordingly, announcements from the different branches of the science
were given, from which they now very readily drew numerous and valuable
practical lessons, several of which were given at this time of
themselves, and which had not been previously taught them. These were
drawn directly from the announcements; and all, according to their
nature, calculated to be exceedingly useful for promoting the health,
the comfort, and the general happiness of themselves, their friends, or
their companions."

But by far the most extensive and satisfactory evidence of the value and
efficiency of this exercise, in the mental and moral training of the
young, was afforded by the experiment undertaken at the request of the
Lesson System Association of Leith, and conducted in the Assembly Rooms
there, in the presence of the Magistrates and Clergy of that town, of
Bishop Russell, Lord Murray, (then Lord Advocate,) and a numerous
meeting of the friends of education. The children were those connected
with a Sabbath school, who had been regularly trained by their teacher,
a plain but pious workman of the town, to draw lessons every Sabbath
from the several subjects and passages of Scripture taught them. To give
all the specimens which afford evidence of the value and efficiency of
this exercise in the education of children, would be to transcribe the
report of the Association; we shall therefore confine ourselves to a few
of the circumstances only, which were taken in short-hand by a public
reporter who was present.

After some important and satisfactory exercises on the being and
attributes of God, from which the children drew many valuable practical
lessons, it is said, that the examinator "expressed his entire
satisfaction with the result, and remarked, that he himself was
astonished, not only at the immense store of biblical knowledge
possessed by these children, but the power which they possessed over it,
and the facility with which they could, on any occasion, use it in
'giving a reason for the hope that is in them.' He then proceeded to the
next subject of examination which had been prescribed to him, which was,
to ascertain the extent of their mental powers and literary attainments,
which would be most satisfactorily shown by their ability to read the
Bible profitably; and for this purpose he requested that some of the
clergymen present would suggest _any_ passage from the New Testament on
which to exercise them. The Rev. Dr Russell (now Bishop Russell,)
suggested the parable of the labourers hired at different hours, Matt.
xx. 1-16. Mr Gall accordingly read it distinctly, verse by verse,
catechising the children as he proceeded, and then made them relate the
whole in their own words, which they did most correctly.

"Mr Gall then selected some of the verses, and called upon them to
separate the circumstances, or parts of each verse, and to state each as
a separate proposition. This also they did with the greatest ease; and
in some cases a variety of divisions were brought forward, thus proving
the high intellectual powers which they had acquired, and the ease with
which they could analyse any passage, however difficult.

"It was next to be ascertained what power the children had acquired of
drawing lessons from Scripture; and for this purpose, Mr Gall, in order
to husband the time of the meeting, confined the children's attention to
one verse only, and proposed to submit each of the moral circumstances
contained in that verse, one by one, as they themselves had divided it.
The following are the lessons drawn by the children, as taken down in
short-hand by the Reporter.

"_Mr G._--The householder invited labourers at the eleventh hour;--what
does that teach you?--It teaches us, that God at various seasons calls
people to his church.--It teaches us, that we ought never to despair,
but bear in mind the language of Jesus to the repentant thief on the
cross,--'To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.'--It teaches us, that
we ought not to boast of to-morrow, since we know not what a day or an
hour may bring forth.--It teaches us, that time is short, and that life
is the only period for preparation and hope.--It teaches us, that we
ought to be prepared,--have our loins girt, and our lamps burning; for
we know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.--It
teaches us, that we ought to number our days, and apply our hearts to
heavenly wisdom.--It teaches us, that we ought not to put off the day of
repentance; because for every day we put it off, we shall have one more
to repent _of_, and one less to repent _in_.--It teaches us,

 'That life is the season God hath given
 To fly from hell, and rise to heaven;
 That day of grace fleets fast away,
 And none its rapid course can stay.'

"Mr Gall here requested the children to pause for a moment, that he
might express the high gratification he felt at the fluency, the
readiness, and the appropriateness of the lessons which they had drawn.
He was only afraid that they had inadvertently fallen upon a passage
with which the children were familiar, by having had it recently under
their notice; and he therefore requested Mr Cameron to state to the
meeting whether this was really the case or not. Mr Cameron rose and
said, that what the meeting now saw was no more than could be seen any
Sunday in the Charlotte Street School. They had not had any preparation
for this meeting; and he did not remember of ever having had this
passage taught in the school. He would recommend that the children be
allowed a little freedom; and when they were done with that
announcement, let any other be taken, for it was the same to them
whatever subject might be chosen.

"Mr Gall accordingly repeated the announcement again, and called on them
to proceed with any other lessons from it which occurred to them. They
accordingly commenced again, and answered as follows: It teaches us,
that we ought to remember our Creator in the days of our youth, while
the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh in which we shall say we
have no pleasure in them.--It teaches us, that we ought to prepare for
death; to gird up our loins, and trim our lamps, lest it be said unto us
in the great day of the Lord, when he maketh up his jewels, 'Depart from
me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his
angels.'--It teaches us so to conduct ourselves, that whether we live
we live unto the Lord, and whether we die we die unto the Lord; and that
whether we live therefore or die, we may be the Lord's; for to that end
Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of
the dead and the living.[22]--It teaches us to improve our time lest we
find that the harvest is past, and the summer ended, and us not
saved.--It teaches us, that we ought to study, in that whether we eat or
drink, or whatsoever we do, we do all to the glory of God.--It teaches
us, that we ought to endeavour to secure an interest in Christ in
time.--It teaches us, that delays are dangerous.--It teaches us, that
the day of the Lord cometh like a thief in the night, and that when
sinners shall say, 'Peace and safety,' sudden destruction cometh upon
them.--It teaches us, that we ought to acquaint ourselves early with
God; and that we ought to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
redeeming the time, because the days are evil.--It teaches us, that we
ought to seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he
is near; that the wicked ought to forsake his way, and the unrighteous
man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, who will have mercy
upon him, and to our God, who will abundantly pardon.--It teaches us to
improve our time; and to bear in mind, that though patriarchs lived
long, the burden of the historian's tale is always, 'and they died.'--It
teaches us, that we ought not to allow pleasures and enjoyments to
interfere with, or overcome, our more important duty of seeking God.--It
teaches us, that we are never too young to pray, and to remember that
God says, 'Now;'--the devil, 'To-morrow.'

"Mr Gall here took advantage of a short pause, and said, 'We shall now
change the announcement. Give me a few lessons from the fact stated in
this parable, that _when the husbandman invited the labourers into the
vineyard at the eleventh hour, they accepted the invitation_.--What does
that teach you?'--It teaches us, that we ought to accept the invitation
of Jesus to come with him, 'Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the
waters, and he that hath no money; come ye buy and eat; yea, come, buy
wine and milk without money, and without price. Seek ye the Lord while
he may be found; call upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake
his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto
the Lord, who will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will
abundantly pardon.'--It teaches us, that we ought to show a willingness
to accept the invitation of Christ, since 'he is not willing that any
should perish, but that all should come unto him and live.'--It teaches
us, that we ought to accept the invitation of Christ, since we are
informed in the Scriptures, 'that whosoever cometh unto him he will in
no ways cast out.' It teaches us, that we ought to accept of the
invitation of Christ; for the Bible informs us, that the invitation is
held forth to all; 'for whosoever will, let him take of the waters of
life freely.'--'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.'--It teaches us, that we ought not to hesitate
in accepting the invitation of Christ; for God says he will not always
strive with man.

"Mr Gall here again expressed not only his satisfaction, but his
astonishment, at the success with which Mr Cameron had taught the
Scriptures to these children. This exhibited itself in two ways;
_first_, in enabling them to draw lessons from any passage of Scripture;
and _second_, in having so disposed of what Scripture they had already
been taught, that whenever a doctrine or duty was to be brought before
them, scriptural declarations crowded around them 'as a light to their
feet, and a lamp to their path.' He himself had no doubt that the
children were no more prepared upon this passage than upon any other;
but it would exhibit this fact more satisfactorily, if _another_ passage
were selected, which he requested some of the gentlemen present to do.

"The clergymen present accordingly requested Mr Gall to try the
concluding portion of the second chapter of Luke, which details Christ's
visit to Jerusalem at twelve years of age. After having read and
catechised the children on this passage, as he had done on the former,
he proceeded at once to call for lessons. Mr Gall gave us the
announcement that _'Joseph and Mary worshipped God in public_,' and
asked for one or two lessons from this? It teaches us, that we ought to
worship God both in public and in private.--It teaches us, that no
trifles ought to hinder us from worshipping God.--One child quoted the
following verse:--

 'Come then, O house of Jacob, come,
   And worship at his shrine!
 And walking in the light of God,
   With holy beauties shine.'

"Mr Gall then said, Let us change the announcement: 'Joseph and Mary
went regularly every year to the feast of the passover?'--What does that
teach you?--That teaches us, that we ought to attend the house of God
regularly.--It teaches that we ought to attend church both times of the
day.--It teaches us that we ought to worship God regularly; for God
loveth order, and not confusion.

"Let us change the announcement again. 'Jesus attended the passover when
he was twelve years of age.' What does this teach you?--It teaches us,
that parents should train up their children in the way they should
go.--It teaches us, that learning young is learning fair.--It teaches
us, that children should never be thought too young to be brought up in
the fear of the Lord.--It teaches us, that children should obey their
parents.--What are we to learn from their 'fulfilling the days?'--It
teaches us, that we should not leave the church until the sermon is
over.--It teaches us, that we ought not to disturb others by leaving the

Remarkable as this exhibition was of the attainment of extraordinary
mental power by mere children, yet it is but justice to say, that the
above is merely a specimen of the elasticity and grasp of mind which
these children had acquired. Some idea of the extent of this may be
formed when it is considered, that all these passages and, subjects were
chosen for them at the moment, and by strangers. And it is worthy of
remark, that if such an amount of mental power, and such an accumulation
of knowledge, of the best and most practical kind, were easily and
pleasantly acquired by children in the lowest ranks of life, of their
own voluntary choice, under every disadvantage, and with no more than
two hours teaching in the week; what may we not expect, when the
principles here developed, are wielded and applied by those who
thoroughly understand them, not for two hours, with an interval of six
busy days, but every day of the week?--The prospect is cheering.


[22] At this part, the Report of the Experiment contains the following
Note:--"The reader will perceive that some of the lessons diverge at
times from the announcement; but it is of great importance, in an
experiment of this kind, neither to omit nor amend what is wrong, but to
give exactly the words that were spoken. Not the least remarkable
circumstance elicited by this experiment is the fact, that these
children, who know nothing of the rules of grammar, have obviously, by
the mental exercise induced by the system, become pretty correct
practical grammarians. The variations made in many of the passages of
Scripture quoted by them show this."


_On the Imitation of Nature in Teaching the Practical Use of Knowledge
by means of the Moral Sense, or Conscience._

In a former chapter we endeavoured to collect a few facts specially
connected with the moral sense, as exhibited in the young, and the
methods which Nature employs, when conscience is made use of for the
application of their knowledge.[23] We shall in this chapter offer a few
additional remarks on the imitation of Nature in this important
department; but before doing so, it will be proper to clear our way by
making a few preliminary observations.

No one disputes the general principle, that education is proper for
man;--and if so, then education must be beneficial in all circumstances,
and at every period of his life. In particular, were we to ask whether
education were necessary in early childhood, and infancy, universal
experience would at once answer the question, and would demonstrate,
that it is much more necessary and more valuable at that season, than at
any future period of the individual's life. In proof of this, we find,
that enlightened restraint upon the temper, and a regulating care with
regard to the conduct, are productive of the most beneficial results;
while, on the contrary, when this discipline is neglected, the violence
of self-will generally becomes so strong, and the checks upon the temper
so weak, that the character of the child formed at this period may be
such as to make him for life his own tormentor, and the pest of all with
whom he is to be associated.--No one can reasonably deny this; and the
conclusion is plain, that education of some kind or other is really more
necessary for the infant and the child, than it is either for the youth
or the man.

If this general principle be once admitted, and we set it down as an
axiom that the infant and the child are to learn _something_,--it
naturally follows, that we are required to teach them those useful
things for which Nature has more especially fitted them; while we are
forbidden to force branches of knowledge upon them of which they are
incapable. Our object then, ought to be to ascertain both the positive
and the negative of this proposition; endeavouring to find out what the
infant and child _are_ capable of learning, and what they _are not_. Now
it is an important fact, not only that infants and young children are
peculiarly fitted, by the constitution of their minds and affections,
for learning and practising the principles of religion and morals; but
it is still more remarkable, that they are, for a long period, incapable
of learning or practising any thing else. If this can be established,
then nothing can be more decisive as to the intention of Nature, that
moral and religious training, is not only the great end in view by a
course of education generally, but that it is, and ought always to be,
the first object of the parent and teacher, and the only true and solid
basis upon which they are to build all that is to follow. Let us
therefore for a moment enquire a little more particularly into this
important subject.

When we carefully examine the conduct of an enlightened and affectionate
mother or nurse with the infant, as soon as it can distinguish right
from wrong and good from evil, we find it to consist of two kinds, which
are perfectly distinct from each other. The one regards the comfort and
physical welfare of the child;--the other regards the regulation of its
temper, its passions, and its conduct. It is of the latter only that we
are here to speak.

When this moral training of the judicious mother is examined, we find it
uniformly and entirely to consist in an indefatigable watchfulness in
preventing or checking whatever is evil in the child, and in
encouraging, and teaching, and training to the practice of whatever is
good. She is careful to enforce obedience and submission in every
case;--to win and encourage the indications of affection; to check
retaliation or revenge; to subdue the violence of passion or inordinate
desire;--to keep under every manifestation of self-will;--and to soothe
down and banish every appearance of fretfulness and bad temper. In
short, she trains her young charge to feel and to practise all the
amiable and kindly affections of our nature, encouraging and commending
him in their exercise;--while, on the contrary, she prevents,
discourages, reproves, and if necessary punishes, the exhibition of
dispositions and conduct of an opposite kind. This, as every one who has
examined the subject knows, is the sum and substance of the mother's
educational efforts during this early period of her child's
progress;--and what we wish to press upon the observation of the reader
is, that the child at this period is literally incapable of learning any
thing else which at all deserves the name of education. He may be taught
to be obedient; to be submissive; to be kind and obliging; to moderate,
and even to suppress his passions; to controul his wishes and his
will;--to be forbearing and forgiving;--and to be gentle, peaceable,
orderly, cleanly, and perhaps mannerly. Is there any thing else?--Is
there any one element of a different kind, that ever does, or ever can
enter into the course of an infant or young child's education? If there
be, what is it?--Let it be examined;--and we have no hesitation in
saying, that if it be "education," or any thing that deserves the name,
it will be found to resolve itself into some one or other of the moral
qualities which we have above enumerated. If therefore children, during
the earlier stages of their educational progress are to be taught at
all, religion and morals _must_ be, the subjects, seeing that they are
for a long period capable of learning nothing else. And it is here
worthy of especial notice, that in teaching religion and morals, there
is a negative as well as a positive scale;--and experience has uniformly
demonstrated, that if the parent or teacher neglect to improve the child
by raising him in the positive side, he will, by his own efforts, sink
deeper in the negative. Selfishness, as exhibited in the natural
depravity of human nature, will in all such cases strengthen daily; and
all the evil passions which selfishness and self-will call into
exercise, will then be strengthened and confirmed perhaps for life.

But while we perceive that the young are incapable of learning any thing
else than what is properly termed religion and morals, we find it to be
equally true, that they are peculiarly fitted and furnished by Nature
for making rapid and permanent progress whenever religion and morals are
made the subjects of regular instruction and training. Few who have
considered carefully the facts stated above, will question the accuracy
of this assertion in so far as _morals_ are concerned; but there are
some who will doubt the capacity of infants and children to be
influenced by _religion_. Now this doubt arises from not observing the
difference,--and the only difference,--that exists between morality and
religion. A man or a child is _moral_ when he is kind and forgiving for
his own sake, and to please himself or his parents;--but he is
_religious_ when he does the same thing for conscience sake, and to
please God. Now children, by the very constitution of their minds, are
well fitted for receiving all that kind of religious knowledge which
acts upon the feelings, and influences the conduct; while the heart is
peculiarly sensitive, and is disposed to bend under the influence of
every expression of affection and tenderness exhibited by others towards
them. Their faith in all that they are told, as we have seen, is
unhesitating and entire; and the capacity of their lively imaginations,
for comprehending things mighty and sublime, which is too often abused
by the ideas of giants, and ogres, and ghosts, is sanctified and refined
by hearing of the greatness, and goodness, and love of the great Creator
of heaven and of earth. When they are informed of his affection and
tenderness to them individually;--of his mercy and grace in saving them
from the awful consequences of sin by the substitution of his own Son
for their sakes;--of his numerous benefits, and his unceasing care;--of
his constant presence with them though unseen; and of his hatred of
sin, and his love of holiness;--there is no mixture of doubt to
neutralize the effects of these truths; and they much more willingly and
unreservedly give themselves up to their influence, than those who are
older. Hence, the repeated declarations of our Lord, that "unless we
become as little children, we shall in no case enter into the kingdom of
God." A simple enumeration therefore of the benefits they have received
from this kind and condescending heavenly Father, is well fitted to fill
the heart of an unsophisticated child with affection and zeal,--and most
powerfully to constrain him to avoid every thing that he is told will
grieve and offend him, and to watch for opportunities to do what he now
knows will honour and please him. This is religion; and it is peculiarly
the religion of the young;--and that man or woman will be found most
religious, who, both in spirit and in action, shall approach nearest to
it in its purity and simplicity.

From all these considerations we see, that Nature has intended that the
first part of the child's education shall consist almost exclusively of
moral and religious training;--and this we think cannot be disputed by
any one who considers the above facts dispassionately, or who will allow
his mind to act as it ought to do under the influence of ascertained
truth. We shall now therefore offer a few remarks on the manner in which
this may most effectually be carried into effect; or, in other words,
how Nature may most successfully be imitated in the application of
knowledge by means of the moral sense.

1. The first thing to be observed here then is, that the early efforts
of the parent or teacher are to be employed for disciplining the child
under the influence of the executive powers of conscience.--The child is
to be trained to the perfect government of his inclinations and temper,
by a watchful attention on the part of the parent to every instance of
their exhibition in his daily conduct, the regulation of the desires,
the softening down of the passions, the eradicating of evil
propensities, the restraining and overcoming the exercise of self-will,
the converting of selfishness into benevolence, and the cultivating and
strengthening of self-controul within, and of sympathy, and forbearance,
and kindness to all without. These are the great ends which the parent
and teacher are to have in view in all their dealings with the child.
They are, in short, to take care that their pupil be reduced to a state
of enlightened submission, and uniform obedience; and for that purpose,
they are to employ all the means and the machinery provided by Nature,
in the use of which she has afforded them abundant examples.

In the accomplishment of these ends, _the agent_ employed has much in
her power. It is a delicate, as well as an important work; and here,
more than perhaps in any after period of the child's educational
progress, an affectionate and enlightened agency is of the greatest
importance. In that constant watchfulness and exertion, necessary to
check or to controul the unceasing and often unreasonable desires of a
froward child, there is naturally created in the mind of a hireling or a
stranger, a feeling of irritation and dislike, which nothing but
enlightened philanthropy, or high moral principle, will ever be able
thoroughly to overcome;--and these qualifications are scarcely to be
expected in those who are usually picked up to assist the mother during
this important season. In families, Nature has graciously balanced this
effect, and amply provided for it, in the deep-seated and unalterable
affection of the parent. The mother then is the proper agent, selected
and duly qualified by Nature for superintending this important work
during this early period. The out-bursts and irregularities of natural
depravity in the young, must be met by an unconquerable affection,
exhibited in the exercise of gentleness, guided by firmness;--of
kindness and forbearance, combined with a steady and an untiring
perseverance. Irregularity or caprice in the nurse, may be the ruin of
the morals of the child. The selection of assistance here is often
requisite, and yet how few comparatively of those into whose hands
children and infants are placed, possess the high qualifications
necessary for this important occupation?[24] The parent who from any
cause is prevented from taking charge of the superintendence of her
offspring at this period, incurs a serious responsibility in the choice
of her assistant; for if these qualifications be awanting, or, if they
be not exercised by the nurse or the keeper, the happiness and moral
welfare of the child during life are in imminent danger.

2. The child is not only to be trained to think and to act properly, but
he must be trained to do so _under the influence of motives_. If this be
neglected, we are not imitating Nature in her mode of applying knowledge
by means of the moral sense. We have seen, as formerly noticed, that a
child under the influence of conscience, has always a painful feeling of
self-reproach, or remorse, after it has done wrong; and a delightful
feeling of self-approval and joy, when it has done something that is
praiseworthy. These are employed by Nature as powerful motives to
prevent the repetition of the one, and to win the child to the frequent
or regular performance of the other;--and this is their effect. In
imitating her in this part of her educational process, we must in like
manner follow in the spirit of this principle. There must be motives of
action held out to the child; something that will tend to keep him from
the commission of evil, and something that will stimulate and encourage
him in doing good. Both are necessary, and therefore, neither of them
should be neglected. What these motives ought to be, we shall
immediately shew; but at present, we are anxious to establish the fact,
that motives to do good, should be invariably employed with our pupils,
as well as motives to avoid evil. In ordinary life, we generally find
too much of the one, and too little of the other. The fear of punishment
held out to prevent mischief or evil, is common enough; but there is
seldom sufficient attention paid to the providing of proper incitements
to the practice of virtue. Some, indeed, have gone the length of
affirming that there ought to be no such incitement held out to the
young; under the erroneous idea, that actions performed for an
equivalent, or in the hope of a reward, cease to be virtuous. But the
same reasoning would apply with almost equal force to the fear of
punishment in stimulating to duty, or in deterring from wickedness; and
yet they would scarcely affirm, that the child who, for fear of the
consequences, refused to break the Sabbath or to tell a lie, was equally
guilty with the boy who did both. There are, no doubt, some motives to
virtue that are higher and more noble than others, as there are
differences in the degrading nature of punishment employed to deter men
from vice. But both kinds may be necessary for different persons. The
man who forgives his enemy because he seeks the approbation of his Maker
and the reward promised by him, and the man who does so, because he
wishes to live in quiet, and to consult his own ease;--the boy who
refrains from sin lest he should offend God, and another who does the
same from the fear of the rod,--are each influenced by motives, although
they are of a very different kind. But it is plain, that the motives
employed may be equally efficient, and that they ought to be used
according to their influence upon the individual, and his advancement in
the paths of morality and religion. Where the higher motive has not as
yet acquired influence, the lower motive must be employed; but to refuse
the employment of either would be wrong, and the sentiment which would
totally exclude them, has no countenance in Nature, in experience, nor
in Scripture. In Nature, we see the directly opposite principle
exhibited; and find that the remorse of conscience consequent upon
crime, in preventing future transgressions, is not more powerful in
those whose moral status is low, than is the feeling of delight and joy
after an act of benevolence, which excites to new deeds of charity, in
those whose religious attainments are greater. Scripture, and the
history of all those whom Scripture holds out for imitation, unite in
teaching the same sentiment. There are many more promises in the sacred
record given to virtue, than there are threatenings against vice; and
the highest altitudes of holiness are not only represented as having
been attained by the influence of these promises; but the persons who
have already reached them, are still urged to greater exertions, and a
farther advance, by the reiteration of their number and their value.
Moses, we are told, "had an eye to the recompense of reward;" and our
Lord himself, "for the joy that was set before him," endured the cross.
Let us not then attempt a better method than God has sanctioned; and in
our intercourse with the young, let us not only deter them from the
commission of evil by the fear of disfavour or the rod, but let us also
incite them to virtue, by the hope of approbation and of a future

3. In our enquiry into the practical working of the moral sense, we
found, not only that there were motives of action employed for
encouraging the pupil to virtue, and for deterring him from vice; but we
found also, that these motives referred chiefly to God, to a future
judgment, and to eternity. In our attempts to imitate Nature in this
particular feature of her dealing with the moral sense, we begin more
distinctly to perceive the high value of Religious Instruction to the
young, and are led directly to the conclusion, that the motives to be
employed with children for encouraging and rewarding good conduct, must
be those chiefly of a spiritual kind, referring to God, and to his
favour or disapprobation, rather than to the rod, or to any secular
reward. The importance of imitating Nature in this matter, for giving a
high tone both to the sentiments and to the morals of the young, is very
great. It is now generally admitted, that secular, and especially
corporal punishments, are never required, except in connection with a
very low and degraded state of the moral sentiments; but it is equally
correct with respect to secular rewards for moral actions. They may both
of them at times be necessary, but in that case they are necessary
evils; and, as a class of motives, they should never be the rule, but
invariably the exception.--We must not, however, be misunderstood. We
are no more for abandoning _secular rewards_, than we are for giving up
corporal punishments. We speak not here of their _abandonment_, but of
their _enlightened regulation_;--both of them may be of service. But
what we wish to point out as an important feature in moral training is,
that they are, or should be, but seldom necessary; and that they ought
never to be resorted to except when they really are so. The differences
observable in the results arising from _secular_, and those from _moral_
motives, are very different, both as regards their power in restraining
from vice, and their influence in stimulating to virtue. What, for
example, would we think of the moral condition of a child, or of the
virtue of his actions, if he had to be hired by a comfit, or a piece of
money, to do every act of kindness which he performed; or if he refused
to relieve a sister, or prevent an injury to his companion, unless
similarly rewarded? This secular spirit in morals, when thus exposed in
its deformity, is obnoxious to every sentiment of virtue, and shews
itself to be a mere system of buying and selling. But how very different
does the reward appear, and the feeling which it excites, when that
reward assumes the moral character, and is found to be the desire of
pleasing the parent, and much more when it seeks the approbation of the
Almighty? Every one will see how beneficial and elevating the effects of
cherishing the one must be, and how debasing comparatively is the
influence of the other. That children are capable of being acted upon by
these higher motives, we have already seen; and, when we aim at securing
the effects which they are calculated to produce, we are closely
imitating Nature in one of her most important operations, and may
therefore calculate upon a corresponding degree of success.[25]

4. In the operations of Nature by means of the moral sense, we found,
that the impressions made upon the mind in reference to sin or duty,
were always most efficient, and most permanent, when the sin or duty was
presented to them in the form of example;--that the example increased in
efficiency and interest as it was familiar or near;--and that it became
still more powerful when it was actually seen or experienced.--From
these circumstances we are led to conclude, that the lives and conduct
of men, and especially the narrative parts of Scripture, are the proper
materials to be employed in the moral training of the young; and the
mode of making use of them is also very plainly indicated. The closer we
can bring the lesson taught to the child's own experience, or to his own
circumstances, the more familiar will it become, and the deeper will be
the impression it will make. An instance of infant disinterestedness or
heroism, in the parlour or the play-ground, pointed out, and placed in
connection with corresponding circumstances in the lives or conduct of
those from whom they have previously drawn moral lessons, will render
the latter much more familiar and practical, and will create more
energetic desires, and stronger feelings of emulation with respect to
the former. Or if the conduct of the person of whom the child hears or
reads, can be brought home and applied to his own case and
circumstances; or if he can be made to perceive the very same
dispositions or conduct exhibited in his companions; or if he can be
made to see how he himself can embody in his own conduct those
principles and actions which God has approved, and requires to be
imitated,--the end of the teacher will be much more certainly gained,
than it can be in any other way. This is moral training, conducted by
the proper moral means; and to attempt to gain the same end by means
which do not either more or less embody these principles, will be found
to be much more difficult, and much less efficient. Whoever will
consider what is implied by our Lord's address to the Pharisees who
erroneously blamed his disciples for unlawfully, as they thought,
plucking the ears of corn on the Sabbath, will see this method of
reading and applying Scripture distinctly pointed out. "Have ye never
read," said our Lord, "what David did, and those who were with him?"
This they might have done frequently; but the mere reading could never
answer the purpose for which it was recorded. The moral lesson must be
drawn, and it must also be applied to similar cases of mere ceremonial

To apply this principle, then, to the moral training of the young by
means of Scripture History, the method is obvious.--The events of the
narrative are to be used as examples or warnings to the child in
corresponding circumstances. If, for example, the teacher wishes to
enforce the duty and the benefits of patience, the history of Job has
been provided for the purpose. When that story is taught, and the
lessons drawn and applied to the ordinary contingencies of life, such as
accident, disease, or distress in a companion; or to circumstances in
which the child himself may hereafter be placed; he will be better
prepared for his duty in such events, or, in the words of Scripture, he
will be "thoroughly furnished" to this good work. If they are to be
taught meekness, the history of Moses, or of other pious men who have
been tried and disciplined as he was, will be found best adapted for the
purpose. And more especially, the life of our Lord, in which all the
virtues concentrate, has been given "as our example, that we may follow
his steps," and which ought especially to be employed in training the
young "to love and to good works." The reason why example is preferable
to precept in teaching children, will be obvious, when we consider the
nature of the principle of grouping, as exercised by the young, and the
difficulty they experience in remembering abstract or didactic subjects.
When a child receives instruction by a story, the imagination is
enlisted in the exercise, the grouping of the persons and circumstances
assists the memory, and the moral and practical lessons which they have
drawn from the narrative, are associated with it, and remain ready at
the command of the will whenever they are required.--It was for this
reason among others, that our Lord taught so frequently by parables;
and, in doing so, has not only set the parent and teacher an important
example, but has, in his teaching, illustrated a principle in our nature
which he himself had long before implanted for this very purpose.

5. In our investigations into the working of the moral sense, we found,
that there was a marked difference between the decisions of conscience
when judging of actions done by _ourselves_, and those which were
performed by _others_. As long as the child is innocent of any
particular vice, he can judge impartially of its nature and demerit; but
when the temptation to commit it has really begun to darken his mind,
and more particularly when he has at last fallen before it, all the
selfish principles of his nature are employed to deceive his better
judgment, and to drown or overbear the voice of conscience within him.
From this we learn the importance of preparing the mind _beforehand_,
for encountering those temptations to which the pupil will most likely
be exposed; not only by teaching him to draw the proper lessons from
corresponding subjects, but by making him apply these lessons to his own
case and affairs. The teacher is to suppose circumstances, in which he,
his parents, and companions, are most likely to be placed, and in which
the lessons drawn from the narrative will be required to weaken or to
prevent the influences of temptation. As, for example, it might be
asked, "If you had accidentally broken a pane of glass, and your parents
asked you who did it, what should you do?" There would in this case,
while it was only supposed, be no temptation to stifle conscience, or to
bend to the influences of selfishness or fear, and the child would
accordingly answer readily, that he ought to confess his fault, and tell
that he himself had done it. When again asked, "From what do you get
that lesson?" he will most probably reply, "From Jacob telling a lie to
his parent;--from Ananias and Sapphira telling a lie;--from the command,
'Lie not one to another,' and 'Confess your faults one to another,'" &c.
By this means the child is forewarned;--he is prepared and fortified
against the sin, if the temptation should occur; but which would not
have been the case without this or some similar exercise.

6. We have also seen, in our investigations into the working of the
moral sense, the deplorable effects of stifling conscience, and of the
child's being permitted to repeat his transgressions; while, upon the
same principle, the most beneficial consequences result from the child's
frequently practising self-denial, self-controul, and acts of
benevolence. In the one case, sin and vice lose much of their deformity,
and gain greatly in strength; while, in the other, every act of virtue
makes vice appear more hideous, and excites to a more decided advance in
the paths of rectitude. From these circumstances we are led to
conclude, that every act of sin in the pupil ought to be carefully
guarded against by the parent or teacher, and, if possible, prevented;
while every exertion ought to be made to induce to the performance of
good and kind actions, however humble or unimportant these actions in
themselves may be. If God does "not despise the day of small things,"
neither should we; and one act of kindness by a child, however trifling,
will most assuredly prepare the way for another. This circumstance also
shews the impropriety of attempting to magnify faults, when perhaps no
fault was designed; and the evil consequences, as well as the injustice,
of refraining to commend a child, when commendation is due. The timorous
fear, in many conscientious parents, of making children _vain_, is the
common excuse for this unnatural conduct. Such persons seem to confound
things _vain_ with things _valuable_, though they are perfectly opposed
to each other. Approbation for any definite quality, excites the
individual to excel in _that_ quality, whether it be worthless or
otherwise. But virtuous deeds are not worthless; and by commending, as
our Lord repeatedly did, those who have done well, they, by that
principle of our nature of which we are here speaking, are strongly
excited to do better. To feed vanity, is to commend vanities; and they
who prize and commend beauty, or fashion, or dress, or frivolous
accomplishments, may be guilty of this folly; but not the parent or the
person who commends in a child those things which are really
commendable, and after which it is his greatest glory to aspire.

7. We have already taken notice of Nature's mode of employing motives
for the prevention of evil, and for the encouragement of the child in
virtue, and how this is to be imitated in the education of the young;
but we have left for this last section, and for separate consideration,
the greatest and most powerful motive of all. This is a view of the
inherent sinfulness and danger of sin, and the means appointed by God
for man's redemption from it. All other motives to restrain men from
sin, and to induce them to follow holiness, when compared with an
enlightened view of this one, sink into insignificance. God's hatred of
sin, and his holy abhorrence of it in every form, when contemplated in
the abstract, may have a response from the head of him who compares it
with his own detestation of meanness, and fraud, and profligacy; but
when this hatred of vice in the Almighty is viewed in connection with
gospel truth, and is contemplated in its effects upon One to whom it was
only imputed, it begins to wear a very different complexion; and, as a
motive to beware of that which God is determined to punish, and which he
would not pass over even in his own Son, it leaves all other motives at
an immeasurable distance. The same thing may be said of God's goodness
and mercy in the gospel, as a motive for us to love him, and to glory in
denying ourselves to serve him. The extent of the danger from which he
has saved us, the amount and the permanence of the glory which he has
procured for us, and the price that was paid for both, will powerfully
"constrain" spiritual minds, to "live no longer to themselves, but to
him who hath died for them."

But the question which will be asked here is, "Are children capable of
all this?"--We unhesitatingly answer, from long experience, that they
are. Whoever doubts the fact has only to try. Can a child not understand
that a distinction ought to be made between the person in a family who
endeavours to make all happy, and another whose constant aim is to make
them all miserable?--Can he not understand, that the parent who refuses
to punish a wicked child, is in effect bribing others to join him in his
wickedness?--Can he not understand that a debt due by one, may be paid
by another?--and that a simple reliance on the word of his benefactor,
followed by submission to his will, may be all that is required to
secure his discharge?--No one will say that a child is incapable of
understanding these simple truths; and if he can comprehend _them_, he
can be made to understand and appreciate the leading truths of the
gospel. The teacher has only himself clearly to perceive them; and then,
divesting the truths of those unnecessary technicalities which are
sometimes, it is feared, used very improperly and unnecessarily, he
ought to convey them to the child, either orally, or by some simple
catechism suited for the purpose. Wherever this is done in effect, there
education will prosper; and when it shall become general among the
young, it will be found to be "as life from the dead."


[23] See pages 111 to 129

[24] Note X.

[25] Note Y.


_On the Application of our Knowledge to the Common Affairs of Life._

There is another point connected with the practical use of our
knowledge, which deserves a separate and careful consideration. It is
the method of applying our knowledge, or rather the lessons derived from
our knowledge, to the common and daily affairs of life. In this exercise
both old and young are equally concerned;--but it is evident that youth
is the proper time for training to its practice.

To acquire this valuable art, the pupils in every seminary ought to be
regularly and frequently exercised in the application of their
lessons;--first, when they have been drawn from a particular subject,
which has occupied their attention for the day; and afterwards
generally, from any part of their previous knowledge. To illustrate what
we mean by this application of our knowledge, let us suppose a person
placed in difficult circumstances, and that he is desirous of knowing
the path of duty, and the particular line of conduct which he should
pursue. If he is to trust to himself for the information required, it is
evident that he must either fall back upon his previous knowledge, and
the instructions he has already received; or he must go forward upon a
mere conjecture, or on chance, which is always dangerous. All knowledge
is given expressly for such cases, and especially Scripture knowledge;
the great design of which is, "that the man of God may be thoroughly
furnished to good works." But if the person has not been trained to make
use of his knowledge in this way and for this purpose, he will be nearly
as much at a loss as if his knowledge had never been received. Hence the
great importance of training the young early and constantly to draw upon
their knowledge for direction and guidance in every variety of situation
in which the parent or teacher can suppose them to be placed in future
life. By this means they will be prepared for encountering temptation,
which is often more than the half of the battle;--they will form the
habit of acting by rule, instead of being carried forward by fashion, by
prejudice, or by chance;--and they will soon acquire a manly confidence,
in deciding and acting, both as to the matter and the manner, of
performing all that they are called upon to do, in every juncture, and
whether the duty be important in the ordinary sense of that term or

For this special mode of applying knowledge, we have not only the
indications plainly given in Nature, which we have endeavoured to
illustrate, but we have also Scripture precept, and Scripture example.
Leaving the numerous instances in the Old Testament, we shall confine
ourselves to a few given by our Lord himself, and his apostles. For
example, he prepared his disciples for the temptations which the love of
worldly goods would throw in the way of their escape from the
destruction of Jerusalem, by enjoining them to "Remember Lot's wife."
Now let us observe how a teacher, in communicating the history of Lot's
wife for the first time, would have prepared these disciples for such a
difficulty in the same way. When they had read, that while fleeing for
her life, the love of her worldly goods made her sinfully look back, so
that she was turned into a pillar of salt; the obvious lesson drawn from
this would be, that "we ought to be on our guard against worldly
mindedness;"--and the _application_ of that lesson to the coming
circumstances would have been something like this. "When you are
commanded to flee from Jerusalem for your lives, and remember that your
worldly goods are left behind, what should you do?"--"We should not turn
back for them." "From what do you get that lesson?"--"From the conduct
and fate of Lot's wife."

In a similar way, the apostle James prepared Christians for humble
resignation and patient endurance under coming trials, by calling to
their remembrance "the patience of Job." He stated the trials to which
they were to be exposed, and then he directed their attention to the
Scripture example which was to regulate them in their endurance of them.
Now it is obvious that a teacher, in communicating the history of Job to
the young, should follow this example, and should make the same use of
it that the apostle did, not only by drawing the lesson, that he "ought
to be patient," but in _applying_ that lesson to temptations to which
the child is likely to be exposed, as James did to the circumstances in
which he knew Christians were to be placed. As for example, when the
child had drawn the lesson, that "we should be patient under suffering,"
the teacher might apply it in a great variety of ways, each of which
would be a delightful exercise of mind to the child,--would impress the
lesson and its source more firmly upon the memory,--and would prepare
him for the circumstances in which the lesson might be required. Were
the teacher accordingly to ask, "If you were confined by long continued
sickness;--or if you were suffering under great pain;--or if you were
oppressed by the cruelty of others, and could not help yourself;--or, if
you were grieved by being separated from your friends,--what would be
your duty?" The answer to each would be, "We ought to be
patient."--"From what do you get that lesson?"--"From the conduct of
Job, who was patient under his sufferings."

The apostle Paul follows a similar plan, in applying the practical
lessons drawn from the conduct of the Israelites in the wilderness, for
fortifying the Corinthians against temptations to which they were likely
to be exposed,[26] and tells them that this is the use to be made of Old
Testament history. These lives are "ensamples," and are "written for our
admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come."--In like manner he
forewarned the Hebrews against discontent and covetousness,[27] by
drawing a _general_ lesson from a _special_ promise made to Joshua; and
then exhorts every Christian to apply it to himself personally, by
employing the language which he puts into their mouths, "The Lord is my
helper, and I will not fear what man can do unto me."

In the same way, when our Lord repeatedly says, "Have ye not read?" and,
"Thus it is written," he gives us obvious indications of the importance
of the duty of thus preparing for temptation, by the application of our
lessons from Scripture. They are each and all of them examples of
practical lessons derived from knowledge formerly acquired, and now
employed in the way of application, to connect that knowledge with
corresponding circumstances as they occur in ordinary life. The lesson,
it will be observed, and as we formerly explained, is always made the
connecting link which unites the two; and without which there is no such
thing as the bringing of knowledge and its use together, when that
knowledge is required. In other words, without the lesson, knowledge is
_useless_; and, without the application of the lesson, knowledge is
_never used_. Both therefore are necessary, and both should be rendered
familiar to the young. It is only necessary here to observe, that in
teaching the children to _draw_ the lessons, the teacher proceeds
forwards from the knowledge communicated, and, by deducing the lesson,
prepares the child for the events in life when they shall be
necessary;--but in _applying_ the lessons, he proceeds backwards, from
the events, through the lesson to the knowledge from which it is
derived. We have a beautiful example of this in the recorded temptations
of our Lord. He was tempted to turn stones into bread; here was the
event which required a knowledge of the corresponding duty; and he
immediately applied the lesson that "we should not distrust God," and
through this lesson, though not expressed, he went directly back to the
source from which it was drawn, by saying, "Thus it is written, Man
shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." When in like
manner he was tempted to throw himself from the temple, he immediately,
through the lesson "that we should not unnecessarily presume on the
goodness of God," went to the passage of Scripture from which it was
drawn;--and, in the same way, when tempted to worship Satan, there was
precisely the same process;--a lesson, derived from previous knowledge
and applicable to the circumstances, used as a uniting link to make the
duty and the Scripture exactly to correspond.

Of doing all this which we have described above; even children are
capable. This has been again and again proved by repeated experiments,
and now by extensive experience in many schools. The difficulties of
introducing it, even for the first time in any seminary, do not lie with
the children, who in every case have shewn themselves quite adequate to
the exercise; and wherever it has been followed up with corresponding
energy, they have been raised much higher in the grade of intelligence
and mental capacity by its means. This will be evident from the
following, taken from among many examples.

The criminals in Edinburgh Jail during the short time they were under
instruction, acquired considerable facility in this valuable art. The
report states, that "some of them were afterwards exercised on the
application of the lessons. This part consists in supposing certain
circumstances and temptations, to which they may be exposed in ordinary
life, and then leaving them, by a very profitable, and usually a very
pleasant operation of their own minds, in reference to these, to call up
to their recollection, and to hold in review, the whole accumulated
range of their previous knowledge. Among the various classes of things
thus brought in order before the eye of the mind, they are easily taught
to discriminate all those precepts and examples which are analogous to
the cases supposed, from which again they very readily select
appropriate lessons to _guide them in these emergencies_; thus linking
the lessons to the circumstances, which is done in the previous exercise
of deducing them; and then the circumstances to the lessons; and in this
manner, establishing a double tie between the understanding and the

"For example, a woman from the Lock-up House, being asked how she ought
to conduct herself when the term of her confinement was expired?
answered, That she ought not to return to her sinful courses, or wicked
companions, lest a worse fate should befal her. When again interrogated
where she got this lesson, she immediately referred to the case of Lot,
who, being once rescued from captivity by Abraham, returned again to
wicked Sodom, where he soon lost all his property, and escaped only with
his life. Another being asked what she should do, when involved in a
quarrel with troublesome companions? replied, That she should endeavour
to be at peace, even though she should lose a little by it; and
produced as her authority the conduct of Abraham, who when Lot's
herdsmen and his could not agree, gave Lot his choice of the country, in
order to secure peace."

The children in Aberdeen also found no difficulty in perceiving the use,
and in applying the lessons to their common affairs. The report of that
Experiment states, that "the most important part of the exercise,--that
which shewed more particularly the great value of this System, and with
which the Meeting were especially struck,--was the appropriate
application of the lessons from Scripture, which they had previously
drawn. They were desired to suppose themselves placed in a great variety
of situations, and were asked how they ought to conduct themselves in
each of these. A few examples may be given, though it is quite
impossible to do justice to the subject. A boy, for instance, was asked,
'If your parents should become infirm and poor, how ought you to act
towards them?' 'I ought,' replied the boy, 'to work, and help them.' And
being asked, 'Whence he drew that lesson?' he referred to the conduct of
Ruth, who supported Naomi and herself, by gleaning in the fields.--A
girl was asked, 'If your mother were busy, and had more to do in the
family than she could easily accomplish, what ought you to do?' Her
answer was, 'I ought to give her assistance;' and she referred to the
conduct of Saul, in assisting his father to recover the asses which were
lost; and to that of David, in feeding his father's sheep when his
brothers were at the wars.--A little boy was asked, 'If your parents
were too indulgent, and seemed to give you all your own will, what ought
you to do?' 'I ought not to take it,' replied the boy very readily; and
added, that it was taking his own will that caused the ruin of the
prodigal son. Another boy being asked, 'If you should become rich, what
would be your duty to the poor?' answered, 'I ought to be good to the
poor; but it would be better to give them work than to give them money;
for Boaz did not give Ruth grain, but bade his shearers let some fall,
that she might get it by her own industry.'"

In the Experiment in London, a child was asked, "When you live with
brothers and sisters who are wicked, what should you do?" and answered,
"I should not join with them in their sins." And when asked where she
got that lesson, answered, "From Joseph, who would not join with his
brothers in their sin."--Another was asked, "When you see others going
heedlessly on in the commission of sin, what should you do?" and
answered, "I should warn them of their danger;" and referred to Noah,
who warned the wicked while building the ark.--Again, "When people about
you are given to quarrel, what should you do?" We should endeavour to
make peace; and referred to Abram endeavouring to remain at peace with
Lot's herdsmen.--"When you have grown up to be men and women, what
should you do?" "We should go to a trade, and be industrious;" and
referred to Cain and Abel following their different employments.--"When
two situations occur, one where you will get more money, but where the
people are wicked and ungodly; and the other, where you will get less
money, but have better company, which should you choose?" "The good
company, though with less money;" and referred to Lot's desire for
riches taking him to live in wicked Sodom, where he lost all that he
had.--"When your parents get old, and are unable to support themselves,
what should you do?" "We should work for them;" and referred to Ruth
gleaning for the support of her old mother-in-law; and another referred
to Joseph bringing his father to nourish him in Goshen.--"When your
parents or masters give you any important work or duty to perform, what
should you do?" "We should pray to God for success, and for his
direction and help in performing it;" and referred to Abraham's servant
praying at the well.--"When we find people wishing to take advantage of
us and cheat us, what should we do?" "Leave them;" and referred to Jacob
with his family leaving Laban.--"Were any one to tempt you to lie or
commit a sin, what should you do?" "We ought not to be tempted;" and
referred to Abraham making Sarah tell a lie in Egypt.--"How should you
behave to strangers?" "We should be kind to them;" and referred to Lot
lodging the angels.--"Were a master or mistress to have the choice of
two servants, one clever, but ungodly, and the other not so clever, but
pious, which one should be chosen?" "The pious servant;" and referred to
Potiphar, whom God blessed and prospered for Joseph's sake.--"When any
one has injured us, what should we do?" "Forgive them;" and referred to
Joseph forgiving and nourishing his brethren.--"When you have once
escaped the snares and designs of bad company, what should you do?" "We
should never go back again;" and referred to Lot going back again to
live in Sodom from which he at last escaped only with his life.

In the account given of the Newry Experiment, the boys were equally
ready in applying for their own benefit the lessons they had drawn from
their knowledge of anatomy and physiology. The account says, that "the
most interesting, as well as the most edifying part of the examination,
and which exhibited the great value of this method of teaching the
sciences to the young, was the _application_ of these lessons to the
circumstances of ordinary life. Circumstances were supposed, in which
they or others might be placed, and they were required to apply the
lessons they had drawn for their direction, and for regulating their
conduct in every such case. This they did with great sagacity, and
evident delight, and in a manner which convinced the audience that the
few hours during which they had been employed in making these
acquisitions, instead of being irksome and laborious, as education is
too often considered by the young, were obviously among the happiest and
the shortest they had ever spent in almost any employment,--their play
not excepted. We shall give a specimen of these, and the answers given,
as nearly as can be recollected.

"The case of walking in a frosty day was supposed, and they were asked
what, in that case, ought to be done? The answer was, That we should
take care not to fall. Why? Because the bones are easily broken in
frosty weather.--When heated and feverish in a close room, what should
be done? Let in fresh air; because it is the want of oxygen in the air
we breathe that causes such a feeling, but which the admission of fresh
air supplies.--When troubled with listlessness, and impeded circulation,
what should we do? Take exercise; because the contraction of the muscles
by walking, working, or otherwise, forces the blood to the heart, and
through the lungs, by which health and vigour is promoted.--Where should
we take exercise? In the country, or in the open air; because there the
air is purer than in a house or a town, where fires, smoke, frequent
breathing, and other things, render the atmosphere unwholesome.--Would
breathing rapidly, without exercise, not nourish the blood equally well?
No; because although more air be drawn into the lungs, there would be no
more blood to combine with its oxygen.--What should be done, when
candles in a crowded church burn dim, although they do not need
snuffing? Let in fresh air; because the air is then unwholesome for want
of oxygen; which, carried to a great extent, would cause fainting in the
people, and would extinguish the candles themselves.--When a fire is
like to go out, what should be done? Blow it up with bellows. Why not by
the mouth? Because the air blown from the lungs has lost great part of
its oxygen, by which alone the fire burns. Why then does a fire blown
with the mouth burn at all? Because part of the oxygen remains, said one
boy; and another added, "and because part of the surrounding air is
blown in along with it."

At the second meeting with these boys, occasioned by the unexpected
circumstances formerly alluded to, they were summarily, and without
previous notice, taken from their school to another public meeting,
without knowing for what purpose they were brought, and had to undergo a
still more searching examination on what they had been previously
taught. Here again they shewed their dexterity in making use of their
lessons, by the application of them, and proved that they had been doing
so to themselves in the intercourse which they had had with their
relations at home. The account goes on to say, that "they were then more
fully and searchingly examined than at first; and there being more time,
they were much longer under the exercise. It was then found, that the
information formerly communicated was not only remembered, but that the
several truths were much more familiar, in themselves and in their
connection with each other, than they had been at the former meeting.
This had evidently arisen from their own frequent meditations upon them
since that time, and their application of the several lessons, either
with one another, their parents, or themselves. The medical gentlemen
were again present, and professed themselves equally pleased. The
lessons, _with considerable additions_, were also given, and the
applications especially were greatly extended. In these last they
appeared to be perfectly at home; and relevant circumstances might have
been multiplied for double the time, without their having any difficulty
in applying the lessons, and giving a reason for their application."

But the most satisfactory of all the experiments on this point, as
implying the possession of a well-cultivated mind, holding at command an
extensive field of useful knowledge, was the one in Leith, although
from accident, or inadvertence on the part of the reporter, a large
portion of it has been lost to the public. The following fragment,
however, will be sufficient to shew its nature and its value. The
examinator wished "to ascertain the power which the children possessed
of applying the passage to their own conduct; and for this purpose, he
proposed several circumstances in which they might be placed, and asked
them to show how this portion of Scripture directed them to
act.--Supposing, said he, that your father and mother were to neglect to
take you to church next Sunday, would that be wrong?--Yes.--From what do
you get that lesson? And when he was twelve years old, they went up to
Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.--Is it right that children
should go to church with their parents? Yes.--Why? Because Jesus went
with his parents.--Would it be right for you to go out of church during
the time of the service? No.--Why? Joseph and Mary remained till the
service was over.

"The next point to be ascertained was, whether the children were able,
not only to perceive what passages of Scripture were applicable in
particular circumstances, but also to find out what circumstances in
life those passages might be applied to. For this purpose, Mr Gall
asked, 'Could you tell me any circumstances which may happen, in which
you may be called on to remember that Joseph and Mary attended public
worship?'--If a friend were to take dinner or tea with us, that should
not detain us from attending church.--Idle amusements should not detain
us from church; and nothing should keep us from it but sickness.

"Mr Gall again expressed his unabated satisfaction at the results of the
examination, in proving the intellectual acquirements of the children.
But so important did the application of the lessons appear to him, that
he must trespass still further upon the time of the meeting by a more
severe test of the children's practical training on this particular
point. It was a test which he believed to be altogether new to them; but
if they should succeed, it will prove still more satisfactorily, that
their knowledge of Scripture has made it become, in reality, a light to
their feet, and a lamp to their path.

"Mr Gall then produced a little narrative tract, which he read aloud to
the children; and after the statement of each moral circumstance
detailed in it, he asked the children whether it was right or wrong.
When the children answered that it was _right_, he required them to
prove that it was so, by some statement in the word of God, because the
Bible should to them, and to every Christian, be the _only_ standard of
what is right and wrong; and so, in the same manner, when they said that
it was _wrong_, he required them also to prove it from Scripture.

"As soon as the children perceived what was wanted, passages of
Scripture, both of precept and example, were brought forward with as
much readiness and discrimination as before. The only exception, was one
or two quotations from the Shorter Catechism in proof of their
positions, which were of course rejected, as deficient of the required

The concluding remarks by the Right Honourable and Reverend reporters of
the Experiment in Edinburgh, may with propriety be here given, as it is
applicable, not only to prison discipline, but to education in general.
"The result of this important experiment," they say, "was, in every
point, satisfactory. Not only had much religious knowledge been acquired
by the pupils, and that of the most substantial, and certainly the least
evanescent kind; but it appeared to have been acquired with ease, and
even with satisfaction--a circumstance of material importance in every
case, but especially in that of adult prisoners. But the most uncommon
and important feature of it was, the readiness which they, in this
short period, had acquired of deducing _Practical Lessons_ from what
they had read or heard, for the regulation of their conduct. Every
leading circumstance in Scripture, by this peculiar feature of the
System, was made to reflect its light on the various common occurrences
of ordinary life, by which the pupils themselves were enabled to judge
of the real nature of each particular act, and to adopt, or to shun it,
as the conscience thus enlightened should dictate. The acting and
re-acting, indeed, of every branch of the System, upon each other,
interweaves so thoroughly the lessons of Scripture with the feelings and
thoughts of their minds, and associates them so closely with the common
circumstances of life, that it is almost impossible that either the
portions of the Bible which they have thus learned, or the practical
lessons thus drawn from them, should, at any future period, escape from
their remembrance. The evolutions of their future life, will disclose
circumstances which they are prepared to meet, by having lessons laid up
in store, adapted to such occurrences; and especially, when the mental
habit is formed of applying Scripture in this manner, there is scarcely
an event which can happen, but against its tempting influence they will
be fortified by the armour of divine truth.--Their compliance with
temptation, should that take place, will not be done without a
compunction of conscience, arising from some pointed and warning example
that comes in all its urgency before their minds;--and they will, when
seduced from rectitude, have a light within them, and a clue of divine
truth, to guide them out of the dark and mazy labyrinth of error and
crime, into the path of duty and virtue. It is God alone that can bless
such instruction, and render it savingly efficacious; but surely the
inference is fair, that this System furnishes us with an instrument,
which, if skilfully employed, will effect all that man can do for his
erring brother or sister."


[26] 1 Cor. x. 1-11.

[27] Heb. xiii. 5, 6


_On the Imitation of Nature, in training her Pupils fluently to
communicate their Knowledge._

There is a fourth, or supplementary process in Nature's educational
course, the successful imitation of which promises to be of great
general benefit, as soon as it shall be universally adopted in our
elementary schools. It is, as it were, the door-way of intellect,--the
break in the cloud, through which the sun-light of concocted knowledge
is to find its way, to enlighten and cheer the general community.--We
refer to that acquirement, by which persons are enabled, without
distraction of mind, internally to prepare and arrange their ideas, at
the moment they are verbally communicating them to others.

When this process is analysed, we find, as explained in a former
chapter, that it consists simply in an ability to think, and to arrange
our thoughts at the time we are speaking;--to exercise the mind on one
set of ideas, at the moment we are giving expression to another. Simple
as this at first sight may appear, we have seen that it is but very
gradually arrived at;--that many persons, otherwise possessing great
abilities, never can command it;--that it is altogether an acquisition
depending upon the use of proper means;--but that, at the same time, any
person whatever, by submitting to the appropriate discipline, may attain
almost any degree of perfection in its exercise. The object required by
the teacher, therefore, is a series of exercises, by means of which his
pupils will be trained to think and to speak at the same moment; to have
their minds busily occupied with some object or idea, while their powers
of speech are engaged in giving utterance to something else. For the
purpose of suggesting such an exercise, we shall again attend shortly to
the exhibition of the process, as we find it under the superintendence
of Nature.

An infant, as we formerly explained, can for a long period utter only
one or two words at a time,--not because it is unacquainted with more,
but because it has not yet acquired the power of thinking the second
word, while it is giving utterance to the first. It has to attain, by
steady practice, and by slow degrees, the ability of commanding the
thoughts, while uttering two, three, or more words consecutively,
without a pause. A child also, whose mind is engaged with its toys,
cannot for some time, during its early mental advances, attend to a
speaker; much less can it think of, and arrange an answer to a question,
while it continues its play. It has to stop, and think; it then gives
the information required; and after this it will perhaps resume its
play, but not sooner. When a child can speak and continue its
amusements, it is an evidence of considerable mental power; and as
Nature makes use of its play, for the purpose of increasing this
ability, the teacher, and especially the parents, ought to excite and
encourage every attempt at conversation while the pupil is so employed.
But our object at present is to arrive at one or more regular exercises
that shall embody the principle; exercises which may at all times be at
the command, and under the controul of the teacher and parent, and which
may form part of the daily useful arrangements of the school or the
family. The following are a few, among many, which we shall briefly
notice, before introducing one which promises to be still more
beneficial, and more generally applicable to the economy of literary
pursuits, and the arrangements of the academy.

One of the exercises which assists in attaining the end here in view, we
have already alluded to, as being successfully employed by Nature for
the purpose,--that is, the child's play. Any amusement which requires
thought or attention, is well calculated to answer this purpose,--and
if the child can be induced and trained to speak and play at the same
time, his thinking powers being occupied by the external use of his
toys, the end of the teacher will in so far be gained. Questions put to
a child at that time, and answers given by him while he continues to
exercise his mind upon his amusements, will prepare the way, and greatly
assist in giving him the power of exercising it upon ideas, without the
help of these external and tangible objects. The principle in both cases
is the same, although in the one it is not carried out to the same
extent as it is in the other. And here we cannot help remarking, how
extensive and important a field the working of this principle opens up
to the ingenious toy-man. If a game, or games, can be invented, where
the child must have his attention occupied with one object, while he is
obliged to answer questions, or to make observations, or to detail
facts, or in any other way to employ his speaking powers
extemporaneously, (not repeating words by rote,) the person who does so
will greatly edify the young, and benefit the public.

Another method by which the principle may be called into exercise, is to
tell a short story, or simple anecdote, and then to require the child to
rehearse it again. In doing this, the mind of the child is employed in
communing with the memory, while he is engaged in detailing to the
teacher or monitor, the special circumstances in their order. Upon the
principles of individuation and grouping, too, (the two most important
principles, be it observed, which Nature employs with young children,)
we can perceive, that it will be much easier for the child, and at least
equally powerful in producing the effect, if the teacher or parent shall
confine himself to one or two stories or anecdotes at a time, till, by
repeated attempts, the child can in its own words, and in its own way,
readily and fluently detail the whole of the circumstances to the
parent or teacher, whenever required.

A similar mode of accomplishing the same object, when the child is able
to read, is, to require him at home to peruse a story of some length,
and to rehearse what he can remember of it next day. This ought,
however, in every case to be a narrative, or anecdote, consisting of
groupings which the child can, on reading, picture on his mind. If this
be neglected, there is danger of the child's being harassed and
burdened, without any corresponding benefit being produced. It is here
also worthy of remark, that Dr Mayo's "Lessons on Objects" may be
employed for this purpose with considerable effect. If a list of
qualities, such as colour, consistence, texture, &c. be put into the
child's hand, and he be required to elucidate and rehearse those
relating to one particular object, either placed before him, or, what is
better, one with which he is acquainted, but which at the time he does
not see, the eye and the mind will be engaged with his paper, and in
recollecting the particular qualities of the object, at the same time
that he is employed in communicating his recollections.

Another method for producing the same end, consists in the parent or
teacher repeating a sentence to the child, and requiring him to remember
it, and to spell the several words in their order. Here the child has to
remember the whole sentence, to observe the order of the several words,
to chuse them one after another as he advances, and to remember and
rehearse the letters of which each is composed. The mental exercise here
is exceedingly useful, besides the advantages of training children to
correct spelling. At the commencement of this exercise with a child, the
sentence must be short, and he may be permitted to repeat each word
after he has spelled it, which will help him to remember the word that
follows;--but as he advances, he may be made to spell the whole without
pronouncing the words; and the length of the sentence may be made to
correspond with his ability. Great care however should be taken by the
teacher that this exercise be correctly performed.

Many other methods for exercising the child's mind and oral powers at
the same moment, will be suggested by the ingenuity of teachers, and by
experience; and wherever a teacher hits upon one which he finds
efficient, and which works well with his children, it is to be hoped
that he will not deprive others of its benefit. Such communications in
education, like mercy, are twice blessed. But the exercise which, for
its simplicity and power, as well as for the extent of its application
to the business and arrangements of the school, appears to answer the
purpose best, and which embodies most extensively the stipulations
required for the successful imitation of Nature in this part of her
process, is that which has been termed the "Paraphrastic Exercise." The
exercise here alluded to has this important recommendation in its
practical working, that while it can be employed with the child who can
read no more than a sentence, it may be so modified and extended, as to
exercise the mental and oral powers of the best and cleverest of the
scholars to their full extent. It consists in making a child read a
sentence or passage aloud; and, while he is doing so, in requiring him
at the same moment, to be actively employed in detecting and throwing
out certain specified words in the passage, and in selecting, arranging,
and substituting others in their place; the child still keeping to the
precise meaning of the author, and studying and practising, as far as
possible, simplicity, brevity, elegance, and grammatical accuracy. It
may be asked, "What child will ever be able to do this?" We answer with
confidence, that every sane pupil, by using the proper means, may attain
it. This is no hypothesis, but a fact, of which the experiment in Leith
gives good collateral proof, and of which long and uniform experience
has afforded direct and ample evidence. Any teacher, or parent indeed,
may by a single experiment upon the very dullest of his pupils who can
read, be satisfied on the point. Such a child, by leaving out and
paraphrasing first one word in a sentence, then two, three, or more, as
he acquires ability, will derive all the advantages above described;
and, by advancing in the exercise, he may have his talents taxed during
the whole progress of his education to the full extent of their powers.
It is in this that one great recommendation lies to this exercise,--it
being adapted to every grade of intellect, from the child who can only
paraphrase a single word at a time, to the student who, while glancing
his eye over the passage, can give the scope of the whole in a perfectly
new form, and in a language and style entirely his own. Of the nature
and versatility of this exercise we shall give a single example.

Let us for this purpose suppose that a child sees in the first answer of
the First Initiatory Catechism the words, "God at first created all
things to shew his greatness," and that the teacher wishes to exercise
his mind in the way, and upon the principle of which we are here
speaking, by making him paraphrase it. He begins by ascertaining that
the child knows the exact meaning of one or more of the several terms
used in the sentence, and can give the meaning in other words. As for
example, he should be able to explain that the first word means, "the
Almighty;"--that the words at "first," here signifies, at "the beginning
of time;"--that "created" means, "brought into existence;"--that the
term "all things," as here used, indicates, "all the worlds in Nature,
with their inhabitants;"--that the phrase to "shew," means to "exhibit
to his rational creatures;"--and that his "greatness," at the close
implies, his "infinite majesty and perfections."

Now it must be obvious, that any one of these explanations may be made
familiar to the dullest child that can read; and if _this_ can be done,
the principle may immediately be brought into exercise. For example,
when the child knows that the first word means "the Almighty," and that
"first" is another way of expressing "the beginning of time," he is
required to read the whole sentence, and in doing so, to throw out these
two words, and to substitute their meanings. He will then at once read
the sentence thus: "[The Almighty,] at [the beginning of time,] created
all things to shew his greatness." The same thing may be done with any
one or more of the others; and if the child at first feels any
difficulty with two, the teacher has only, upon the principle of
individuation, to make one of them familiar, before he be required to
attend to a second; and to have two rendered easy before he goes forward
to the third. Each explanation can be mastered in its turn, and may then
be employed in forming the paraphrase; by which means the child's mind
is called to the performance of double duty,--reading from his
book,--throwing out the required words,--remembering their
explanations,--inserting them regularly and grammatically,--and perhaps
transposing, and re-constructing the whole sentence,--at the moment that
he is giving utterance to that which the mind had previously arranged.

The same thing may be done with a sentence from any book, although not
so systematically prepared for the purpose as the Initiatory Catechisms
have been. The explanations of any of the words which may be pointed
out, or under-scored by the teacher, can easily be mastered in the usual
way by any of the children capable of reading them; and if he shall be
gradually and regularly trained to do this frequently, his command of
words, in expressing his _own_ ideas, and his ability to use them
correctly, will very soon become extensive and fluent. The importance of
this to the young is much more valuable and necessary than is generally
supposed. Nature evidently intends that childhood and youth should be
the seed-time of language; and the exercise here recommended, when
persevered in, is well calculated to produce an abundant harvest of
words, suited for all kinds of oral communications.--Its importance in
this respect, as well as its efficiency in fulfilling all the
stipulations necessary for imitating Nature in the exercise of the
principle which we are here illustrating, will be obvious to any reader
by a very simple experiment.

For this purpose the sentence which we have already employed may, for
the sake of illustration, be represented in the following form.--"[God]
at [first] [created] all [things] to [shew] his [greatness.]"--Here each
of the words, which we formerly supposed to be explained by the child,
is inclosed in brackets. Now if the reader will be at the pains of
trying the experiment upon himself, and shall endeavour to observe the
various operations of his own mind during it, he will at once perceive
the correctness of the above remarks. That he may have the full benefit
of this experiment, he has only to fix upon any one--but only one--of
the inclosed words in the above sentence, and having ascertained its
precise meaning as before given, he must _read_ the sentence aloud from
the beginning, following the words with his eye in the ordinary way,
till he arrives at the word he has fixed on. This he leaves out, and in
its stead inserts the explanation, and then goes on to read the
remainder of the sentence.--At the first trial he will perhaps be able
to detect in his own mind some of the difficulties, which the less
matured intellect of the young pupil has to encounter in his early
attempts to succeed in the exercise; but he will also see, that it is a
difficulty easily overcome when it is presented singly, and when the
pupil is permitted to grapple with the paraphrasing of each word by
itself. The reader will also be able to trace the operation of the young
mind while engaged with the explanations, which differ entirely from
the words which he is at the moment looking upon and reading. He will
observe, that when the eye of the child arrives at the word fixed upon,
he has to pause in his utterance for a moment, till the mind goes in
search of what it requires; in the same way, and upon precisely the same
principle, that an infant who has managed to speak one word, has to
stop, and go in search of the next, and then to concentrate the powers
of its mind upon it, before he can give it expression. But if the reader
will repeat the operation to himself upon the _same word_, till he can
read its explanation in the sentence without difficulty and without a
pause; and then do the same with two, then with three, and so on, till
he has completed the whole; he will be able to appreciate in some
measure the importance of this exercise in training the young to such a
command of language, as will enable them, on all known subjects, to
deliver fluently, and in any variety of form, the precise shade of
meaning which they wish to express.

This of itself will be a great attainment by the pupil; but it is not
all. The reader will also perceive what must be the necessary result of
persevering in this exercise, during the time of a child's attendance at
school, in training him to that calm self-possession,--that perfect
command of the mind and the thoughts,--while engaged in speaking, which
the frequent and gradually extended use of this exercise is so well
calculated to afford. All the children of a school, without exception,
may be exercised by its means, and upon the same paragraph; for while,
by the paraphrasing of but one word in a clause, it is within the reach
of the humblest intellect; yet, by the changes and transpositions
necessary in more difficult passages, either to smooth asperities, or to
avoid grammatical errors, it provides an extemporaneous exercise suited
to the talents of the highest grade in any seminary.

The collateral advantages also of this exercise, are both valuable and
extensive. The operation of the principle which supposes double duty by
the mind, enters into the nature of numerous acts in ordinary life,
besides that of thinking and speaking, and which a perfect command of
the thoughts in paraphrasing will tend greatly to facilitate.--For
example, it will greatly assist the pupil in making observations during
conversation, in attending to the weak and strong points of an argument,
and in preparing his materials for a reply, while he is all the time
hearing and storing up the ideas of a speaker.--It will enable him more
extensively, and more deliberately to employ his mind on useful subjects
while engaged with his work, even in those cases where a considerable
degree of thought is required;--and it will greatly aid him in acquiring
the art of "a ready writer," and will be available, both when he himself
writes his own thoughts, or when he requires to dictate them to others.
Many persons who can express their ideas well enough by speech, find
themselves greatly at a loss when they sit down to write them;--and this
arises entirely from the want of that command of the mind which is
necessary whenever it is called on to do double duty. The person cannot
think of that which he wishes to write, and at the same moment guide the
hand in writing; in the same way, and for the same reason, that a child
cannot answer a question and yet continue his play. By the use of the
paraphrastic exercise, however, the pupil will soon be enabled not only
to concoct in his own mind what he intends to write, during the time he
is writing; but the faculty may, by the same means, be cultivated to
such an extent, that he may at last be able to dictate to two clerks at
a time, and sometimes perhaps, (as it has been affirmed some have done)
even to three.

A similar collateral advantage, which will arise from the persevering
use of the paraphrastic exercise, deserves a separate consideration.--It
will gradually create a capacity to take written notes of a subject,
either in the church, the senate, or the lecture room, during the time
that the speaker is engaged in delivering it. It is in the ability to
hear and concoct in the mind one set of ideas, while writing down an
entirely different set, that the whole art of accurate "reporting"
consists. The writing part of the process is purely mechanical; the
perfection of the art consists chiefly in the command which the reporter
acquires over the powers of his mind. The person while so employed has
to hear and reiterate the ideas of the speaker as he proceeds; these he
must remember and arrange, selecting, abridging, condensing, or
abandoning, according to the extent of his manual dexterity in writing.
But it is worthy of remark, that if the person be able to think,--to
exercise his mind,--and to continue to write without stopping while he
does so, the _amount_ of what he writes is a mere accident, and depends,
not upon the state of the mind, but upon the mechanical part of the
operation, which is aided by the arts of stenography and abbreviation.
This mental capacity is most likely to be acquired by the regular and
persevering use of the paraphrastic exercise. It will train the pupil to
that command over his thoughts, which, with a little practice in this
particular mode of applying it, will soon enable him, with perfect
self-possession, to hear and to keep up with a speaker, while he
continues without a pause, to write down as much of what has been said,
as his command of the pen will allow. Without this mental ability, he
could not while listening write at all; but when it has been
sufficiently acquired, there is no limit to his taking down all that is
spoken, except what arises from the imperfection of the mechanical part
of the process,--his manual dexterity. All these collateral advantages
will accrue to the pupils by the use of this exercise; and this latter
one will be greatly promoted in a school by a piece of history, an
anecdote, or a paragraph of any kind, which none of the pupils know,
being read slowly for only a few minutes, while the whole of the pupils
who can write are required to take notes at the time, and to stop and
give them in, as soon as the reading is finished.[28]

It is also here worthy of remark,--and it is perhaps another proof of
the efficiency of the several exercises before enumerated as imitations
of Nature,--that they all, more or less, embody a portion of this
principle of double duty performed by the mind. In each of them, when
properly conducted, the pupil is compelled to speak, and to think at the
same moment. Not a little of their efficiency and value indeed, may be
attributed to this circumstance. In the catechetical exercise, for
example, it is not difficult to trace its operation. For in the attempt
of the child to answer a question previously put to him, the teacher
will be at no loss to perceive the mind gradually acquiring an ability
to think of the original question and of the ideas contained in the
subject from which he has selected his answer, at the very moment he is
giving it utterance. And a knowledge of the fact should excite teachers
in general, so to employ this exercise as to produce this effect.--The
analytical exercise also, in its whole extent, calls into operation the
working of this principle, whether employed synthetically or
analytically. When children are employed with the analytical exercise
proper,--as in tracing a practical lesson backwards to the subject or
circumstance from which it has been drawn, and in attaching that
circumstance to the story or class of truths to which it belongs; or
when, as in the "Analysis of Prayer," a text of Scripture has to be
classified according to its nature, among the several parts into which
prayer is divided;--in all these cases, there is this same double
operation of the mind, searching and comparing one set of ideas, while
the pupil is employed in giving expression to others.

The exhibition of the principle will be easily traced, from what took
place in the experiment in London, where the report states, that "the
third class were next examined on the nature and practice of prayer.
They shewed great skill in comprehending and defining the several
component parts of prayer, as invocation, adoration, confession,
thanksgiving, petition, &c. They first gave examples of each separately;
and then, with great facility, made selections from each division in its
order, which they gave consecutively; shewing, that they had acquired,
with ease and aptitude, by means of this classification, a most
desirable scriptural directory in the important duty of prayer. They
then turned several lessons and passages of scripture into prayer; and
the Chairman, and several of the gentlemen present, read to them
passages from various parts of the Bible, which they readily classified,
as taught in the 'Questions on Prayer,' and turned them into adoration,
petition, confession, or thanksgiving; according to their nature, and as
they appeared best suited for each. Some of the texts were of a mixed,
and even of a complicated nature; but in every case, even when they were
not previously acquainted with the passages, they divided them into
parts, and referred each of these to its proper class, as in the more
simple and unique verses."

But a similar working of the same principle takes place when the
analytical exercise is employed synthetically, and when the pupil is
required to go from the root, forward to the extreme branches of the
analysis, as is done when he forms an extemporaneous prayer, from a
previous acquaintance with its several divisions and their proper order.
In this very necessary and important branch of a child's education, the
"Analysis of Prayer" is usually employed, and has, in thousands of
instances, been found exceedingly effective. During this exercise, the
child has steadily to keep in view the precise form and order of the
Analysis, and at the same moment he has to select the matter required
under each of the parts from the miscellaneous contents of his memory,
to put them in order, and to give them expression. In doing this there
is a variety of mental operations going on at the same moment, during
all of which the pupil will soon be enabled continuously to give
expression to his own ideas, with as much ease and self-possession as if
he were doing nothing more than mechanically repeating words previously
committed to memory. This is a valuable attainment; and yet the whole of
this complicated operation of attending to the several branches of the
analysis, and of selecting, forming, and giving utterance to his
confessions, his thanksgivings, and his petitions, with perfect
composure and self-possession, is within the reach of every Christian
child. It is accomplished by a persevering exercise of the principle
which has been illustrated above, and which is exemplified in the
paraphrastic exercise. Many adults, it is believed, have been enabled,
with ease and comfort, to commence family worship by its means; and
numerous classes have been trained to the exercise in a few lessons. We
shall here detain the reader by only a single example.

The writer having been requested to meet with the Sunday School Teachers
of Greenock and its neighbourhood, about the year 1827 or 1828, paid a
visit to that place, and had the proposed meeting in a large hall of the
town, where he endeavoured to explain to them, practically, a few of the
principles connected with Sunday School Teaching, as more scientifically
detailed in the present Treatise. For the purposes of that meeting,
three children belonging to one of the Sunday Schools, were for a few
hours previously instructed, and prepared to exhibit the working of some
of those principles which, it was hoped, would lessen the labour of the
Sunday School Teachers, and at the same time increase their influence
and their usefulness. These children, (two girls and a boy,) about the
ages of ten or twelve years, were regularly instructed by means of the
catechetical exercise, in the doctrines, examples, and duties of
Christianity; and among other subjects, they were made acquainted with
the "Analysis of Prayer," and exercised by its means, without its being
hinted to them, however, what use was intended to be made of it.

The meeting was a crowded one; where, besides the Sunday School
Teachers, and Parents of the children, nearly all the Clergymen of the
place were present. When the more ostensible business of the meeting had
been concluded, the writer consulted privately with two or three of the
clergymen, and asked, whether they, knowing the general sentiments of
the persons composing the meeting, would think it improper that one of
the three children who had shewn themselves so intelligent, should be
called on solemnly to engage in prayer with the audience before
dismissing. To this they replied, that there could be no objections to
such a thing, provided the children were able;--but of their ability,
they very seriously doubted. On this point, however, the writer assured
them there was no fear; and if that were the only objection, they would
themselves immediately see that it was groundless. The boy accordingly,
without his even conjecturing such a thing previously, was, before the
meeting was dismissed, publicly called on to engage in prayer. He was
for a moment surprised, and hesitated; but almost immediately, on the
request being repeated, he shut his eyes, and commenced, with a solemn
and faltering voice for one or two sentences; when, recovering from
every appearance of trepidation, he proceeded with much propriety and
solemnity of manner, with great latitude, and yet perfect regularity and
self-possession, through all the departments of adoration, confession,
thanksgiving, and petition, in language entirely his own, selecting for
himself, and arranging his sentences agreeably to the Analysis, which
was evidently his guide from the beginning to the end. This Treatise
will, there is little doubt, be read by some who were that evening
present, and who will remember the universal feeling of surprise and
delight, at the perfect propriety of expression, the serenity of mind,
and the solemnity of manner, which characterised the whole of this
uncommon exercise. It did appear to many as a most unaccountable thing;
but when the principle is perceived, as explained above, the wonder must
at once cease, and we can distinctly see, that by using the proper
means, the same ability is within the reach of all who will be at the
pains to make the trial.

This same principle is also exercised to a very considerable extent in
drawing and applying lessons from a previous announcement. A very little
attention to the operations of the mind in that exercise will be
sufficient to shew this. Let us suppose, for example, that an
announcement is made to a child, from which he is required to draw a
practical lesson. This announcement must be distinctly present to his
mind, while he is engaged in considering its meaning, its moral
character, and its bearing on his own sentiments and conduct;--but more
especially, all this, besides the original announcement, has still to be
kept in view, while he is engaged in giving the lesson to the teacher in
his own language as required. But in the application of the lessons, the
principle is still more extensively called into operation. The child is
asked, how he should act in certain given circumstances. These
circumstances must accordingly be kept steadily before the mind, during
the whole of the succeeding mental operation. He has to consider the
lesson, or the conduct which he should pursue in these circumstances,
and then, by the association of his ideas, he must call up from the
whole of his accumulated knowledge, the precepts, the examples, the
warnings, and even the implications, which form his authority for
deciding on the conduct which he ought to pursue. These again must be
kept before the mind, while he is preparing, and giving in his own
language his conclusions to his teacher.

All this was very obvious in the several public experiments, where the
drawing of lessons, and the application of them by the pupils, were
introduced.--In the case of the adult prisoners in Edinburgh County
Jail, it was very observable; and the rolling of the eye, and the
unconscious movement of the head, as if deeply engaged in some mental
research when an application was required, were peculiarly pleasing and
obvious to all the spectators. The reason was, that they had to keep
before their mind, the circumstance, or statement involved in the
question asked, while they had, at the same time, to review the several
portions of their knowledge, chuse out the passage or example which was
calculated to direct them in the duty; and then, still keeping these
accumulated ideas present before the mind, they had to prepare and give
expression to their answers. The same thing had to be done, but to a
much greater extent, by the children in Aberdeen, in London, and in
Newry. But the most satisfactory evidence of the beneficial working of
this principle, in the drawing and applying of lessons, and by this
means in giving even to children a command of language, and a power of
extemporaneous speech which is but rarely attained even by adults, is to
be found in the Seventh Experiment in Leith. The writer feels more at
liberty in descanting upon the extraordinary results of that
investigation with the children, because he had no share in their
previous instruction; the peculiar merits of which belonged entirely to
their zealous and pious teacher. He was a plain unlettered man; and yet
he has trained hundreds of children in his Sunday school, whose
intellectual attainments, for their age and rank in life, the writer has
seldom known to be surpassed. There were exhibited by the children, from
the beginning of the experiment to the end, an amount of knowledge, a
degree of mental culture, a grasp of mind, and a fluency of expression,
which had never before been witnessed in children of a similar class, or
of the same age, by any person then present. The pupils were at the time
quite unprepared for any extraordinary exhibition;--the subjects were
chosen indiscriminately by the clergymen present, and were repeatedly
changed;--and what is still more extraordinary, it was found, upon
investigation, that the subjects were in general entirely new, or at
least they had never been previously used as exercises in the school.
The children, however, with all these disadvantages, were perfectly at
home in each one of them. There appeared to be no exhausting of their
resources; and the ease, and copiousness, and fluency of their language,
were remarked by all present, as extraordinary, and by some as almost
incredible. Many who were present, could scarcely believe that the
children spoke extemporaneously. All these phenomena were simply the
effects of the principle of which we are here speaking, regularly
brought into operation, in the weekly acts of drawing and applying their
practical lessons. The exhibition of so much mental power possessed by
mere children,--and these children collected from the very humblest and
rudest classes inhabiting a sea-port town,--appeared to be a
circumstance altogether new. The official persons present, and the very
Rev. Bishop Russell, who took an active part in the examination,
expressed their decided satisfaction at the results of the whole
experiment; and the effects of these principles, as illustrated by such
children, made the present Lord Murray remark publicly at the close of
the meeting, that it was obviously "a valuable discovery, calculated to
be extensively useful to society."


[28] Note Z.




_On the General Principles which ought to regulate our choice of Truths
and Subjects to be taught to the Young._

In all cases where our temporal interests are concerned, a proper
discrimination in the selection of such exercises and studies as shall
best suit our purpose, is considered as not only prudent, but necessary.
The neglect of this would, indeed, by men of the world, be esteemed the
height of folly. No ship-master thinks of perfecting his apprentices by
lectures on agriculture; nor does the farmer train his son and successor
to cultivate the land, by enforcing upon him the study of navigation. In
a public school, therefore, when all classes of the community are to be
taught, the truths and exercises should be selected in such a manner,
that they shall, if possible, be equally useful to all; leaving the
navigator and the agriculturist, the surgeon and the lawyer, to
supplement their _general_ education, by the study of those special
branches of learning which their several professions require.

But even this is not enough:--Among those subjects and exercises in
which all the children in a school may be equally interested, there are
many which are neither equally useful, nor equally indispensable. A
thorough consideration, and a careful selection of those which are most
valuable in themselves, and which are most likely to be useful during
life, become both prudent and necessary. In all ordinary cases, men act
upon this principle. Health, food, and recreation, are all good and
useful things; but even from among these we are sometimes compelled to
make a choice, and the principle of our decision is always the same.
When we cannot procure all, we chuse those which appear to us the most
necessary, and abandon the others without regret. A man readily denies
himself to sports and amusement, when he finds that he must labour for a
supply of food and necessaries; and even the pleasures of the table are
willingly sacrificed, for the purpose of securing or restoring the
blessings of health. In like manner, those branches of education which
are most important for securing the welfare of the pupils, and most for
the benefit of society, ought to be selected and preferred before all
others; seeing that to neglect, or wilfully to err in this matter, would
be injurious to the child, and unjust to the community.--Our object at
present therefore is, to enquire what those general principles are which
ought to regulate us in our choice of subjects and exercises for the
education of youth.

1. The first and fundamental rule which ought to guide the Educationist
and the Parent in the selection of subjects for the school, is to chuse
those which are to promote the happiness and welfare of _the pupil
himself_; without regard, in the first instance at least, to the
interests or the ease of his friends, of the teacher, or of any third
party whatever.--Children are not the property of their parents, nor
even of the community. They are strictly and unalienably the property of
the Almighty, whose servants and stewards the parents and the public
are. The child's happiness and welfare are entirely his own;--the free
gift of his Maker and Master, of which no man, without his full consent,
has a right to deprive him. This happiness, and the full enjoyment of
what he receives, both here and hereafter, have been made to depend on
his allegiance and his faithfulness, not to his parents, nor even to the
public, but to the great Lord of both. This allegiance therefore, is his
first and chief concern, with which the will and the wishes, the
interests or the ease, of teachers and parents, have nothing to do. If
the directions of his Maker and Lord are attended to, he has nothing to
fear. There is in that case secured for him an inheritance that is
incorruptible, and far beyond the reach or the power of any creature. It
is for the enjoyment of this inheritance that he has been born;--it is
with the design of attaining it, and for increasing its amount, that his
time is prolonged upon earth;--it is to secure it for him, and to
prepare him for it, that the parent has been appointed his guardian and
guide;--and it is for the purpose of promoting and overseeing all this
among its members, that a visible church, and church officers, have been
established and perpetuated in the world.

In so far as each individual child is concerned, the parent is the
immediate agent appointed by the Almighty for attending to these
objects; and although, in a matter of so much importance, he is
permitted to avail himself of the assistance of the teacher, he, and he
only, is responsible to God for the due performance of those momentous
duties which he owes to his child. When therefore the parents, for the
purpose of forwarding some trifling personal advantage, or the teacher,
for his own ease or caprice, are found indifferent to the kind of
exercises used in the school, or to the results of what is taught in
it;--doing any thing, or nothing, provided the time is allowed to pass,
with at least the appearance of teaching;--they are, in such a case,
betraying an important trust; they are heedlessly frustrating the
wishes, and resisting the commands of their Master and Lord; they are
sapping the foundations of society; and are thoughtlessly and basely
defrauding the helpless and unconscious pupil of a most valuable
patrimony.--In committing to parents the keeping and administration of
this sacred deposit, reason, conscience, and Scripture, all unite in
declaring, that it is given them, not for the promotion of their own
personal advantages, but for the child's benefit; and that, while they
never can be permanently bettered by its neglect, their good, even in
this world, will be best and most surely advanced by a faithful
discharge of their duty to their offspring.

These remarks go to establish the general principle, that the parent is
not the proprietor, but merely the guardian and the administrator of the
child's interests. These interests are of various kinds. And although
the above remarks refer chiefly to the spiritual and eternal advantages
of the young, that circumstance arises merely from their superior value
and importance. The argument is equally conclusive in regard to every
one of his temporal concerns. For if both the parent and the child be
the special property of God, and if the parent has been appointed by him
as the conservator and guardian of the child's happiness, he has no
right either to lessen or to destroy it for any selfish purpose of his
own. In every case--even of discipline--he is bound to follow the
command and the example given him by his Father and Master in heaven,
not to chastise his offspring for his "own pleasure," but for the
"child's profit." The rule therefore which ought to regulate the parent,
and of course the Educationist, in making choice of the subjects and
exercises for the school, is, that they shall really and permanently
conduce to the _pupil's_ welfare and happiness, irrespective of the
conflicting interests or wishes, either of the teacher, the parent, or
the public. These will usually be in harmony; but as a general
principle, the exercises are to be chosen with reference to the welfare
of the _child_,--not of the _community_.

2. Another rule which ought to be attended to in the selection of
subjects and exercises for the seminary, is nearly allied to the former,
but which we think, from its vast importance, should have a separate
consideration. It is this, that a decided preference should be given to
_every thing which advances the concerns of the soul, above those of the
body;--which prefers heaven to earth,--and eternity to time_.--Man is an
accountable and an immortal creature;--and therefore there is no more
comparison between the value of those things which refer to his
happiness in eternity, and those which refer only to his enjoyments
during his lifetime, than there is between a drop of water and the
contents of the ocean;--nay, between a grain of sand and the whole
physical universe. The truth of this observation, when viewed in the
abstract, is never questioned; and yet the educational principles which
it naturally suggests are too often jostled aside, and practically
neglected. It plainly teaches us, that the young ought to be made aware
of the comparative nothingness of temporal and sensual objects, when
placed in competition with those which refer to their souls and
eternity; and that the subjects which are to be taught them in the
school, should tend to produce these feelings.--But this is not always
the case; and even when the subjects are in themselves unobjectionable,
the methods taken for teaching them frequently neutralize their effects.
The national evils which have arisen from this neglect are extensive and
lamentable, consisting in an almost exclusive attention among all
classes to temporal matters, and to sensual gratifications. These
characteristic, features in our people may all be traced, from their
exhibition in general society, to the want of a thorough knowledge of
those truths which tend so powerfully to deaden the influence of the
things of sense and time, and to moderate our pursuit after them. It is
in a particular manner at this point that the reckless cupidity, and
the debased and short-sighted selfishness of the lower classes, ought to
be met and removed, by the enlightened and kindly instructions of more
capacious minds. Society, as at present constituted, acts as if there
were no futurity. Time is the eternity of thousands; and therefore they
think only of time. Had they, as rational creatures, but a correct
view,--however faint,--of their destination in eternity, their conduct
and pursuits would very soon be changed, and their selected enjoyments
would become, not only more rational, but much more exquisite. Education
is the instrument by which alone this can be effected, whether in the
church or in the school; and to this point, both parents and children
should be assiduously directed for their own sakes, and for the sake of
the community.

Hitherto there has in education been too much of the mere shadow of
rational knowledge, without the substance; and the consequence has been,
that many parents in the lower classes have never been able to perceive
their _own_ best interests, and therefore it is that their children by
them have been equally neglected. Nor is this only a partial evil, or
confined to the lower classes.--It is, on the contrary, when we examine
the matter closely, nearly universal. Among ignorant and thoughtless
parents, who are either unable or unwilling to look any further than the
few short years of life, the training of their children to figure
respectably and gracefully during it, may not perhaps excite much
wonder;--but that such conduct should be followed by Christian parents,
who know that both they and their children have souls, and that there is
such a thing as eternity before them both, is truly humbling. Nor is it
much for the credit of the philosophy of the present day, that while its
promoters admit as an axiom the superiority of moral and religious
attainments, they are found in practice to bestow their chief attention,
and to lavish most of their approbation on physical investigations and
on intellectual pursuits. Every sound thinker must see, that by doing
so, the first principles of philosophy are violated; and many well
meaning persons are, by this inverted state of public opinion,
insensibly drawn away from the more valuable food provided for them as
responsible and immortal beings, to feed on the mere chaff and garbage
of temporal and sensual enjoyments; or the more valuable, but still
temporary crumbs of the intellectual table. That this practical abuse of
acknowledged truths should be found among the ignorant and the depraved,
might perhaps be expected; but that it should be witnessed, and yet
winked at, by men of learning and study, whose comprehensive minds,
although still inadequate to comprehend the full import of an eternity
of advancing knowledge, can yet appreciate the comparative
insignificance of seventy--nay of seventy thousand--years' investigation
into the mysteries of Nature, is very painful. We do not, in saying
this, depreciate in the slightest degree the sublime discoveries which
are daily being made of the Almighty and his works;--but we say, upon
the soundest principles of philosophy, that were all these discoveries
multiplied ten thousand times, they could not for a moment compete with
what yet remains to be communicated to the successful aspirant after the
revelations of eternity. Religion and morals are the only means by which
success in that great competition can be gained; and therefore, to a
child, a knowledge of all that man has yet discovered, or can ever know
in this imperfect state of existence, is really as nothing, in
comparison with the knowledge and practice of but one religious truth,
or with the slightest advance in the science of morals.--A child once
possessed of a living soul is born for eternity. Its happiness has been
made to depend, not on the possession of physical good, or of
intellectual power, but entirely on its moral condition;--and the
physical good it receives, and the intellectual power it attains; are
nothing more than means intended by the Almighty to be used for the
purpose of perfecting his moral condition while he is still in this
world. The whole period of his existence here, is but the moment of his
birth for eternity. Care and enlightened attention to his moral
condition during that short period of probation, will usher him
spiritually alive and fully prepared for enjoying an eternal weight of
intelligence and glory;--while inattention, or misdirected activity now,
may no doubt put him prematurely in possession of a few intellectual
morsels of this eternal feast, but it will assuredly shut him out from
its everlasting enjoyment, and will entail on him comparative ignorance,
and a living death for ever.

In this view of the case then,--and what Christian will deny that it is
the correct one,--there cannot be a more short-sighted proposition
suggested in the counsels of men, than that which would sanction a
system of education for an _immortal_ being, that either overlooked, or
deliberately set aside, his well-being in eternity. The very idea is
monstrous. It is a deliberate levelling of man to the rank of mere
sentient animals; and is another form of expressing the ancient advice
of the sensualist, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." By
every person of learning, then, and even by individuals of humbler
attainments, in the exercise of a plain common understanding, the
importance of the rule in education which we are here recommending, must
at once be admitted;--That in the selection of truths and exercises for
educating and training the young, a decided preference should always be
given to those which have a reference to their well-being and happiness,
not in time so much as in eternity.

3. In selecting subjects and exercises for the education of the young,
those are to be preferred, by which _the largest amount of true and
solid happiness is to be secured to the pupil_.--A man's happiness is
his only possession. Every thing else which he has, is only the means
which he employs for the purpose of acquiring or retaining it. Happiness
accordingly, by the very constitution of our nature, is the great object
of pursuit by every man.[29] The means of happiness are no doubt
frequently mistaken, and often substituted for happiness itself. But
even these conflicting circumstances, when properly considered, all tend
to shew, that happiness is the great object desired, and that it is
universally sought after by every intelligent mind. By a wise and
beneficent arrangement of the Almighty, it has been so ordered, that
happiness is to be found only in the exercise of the affections;--and
the amount of the happiness which they confer, is found to be
proportionate to the excellence of the object beloved. The love of God
himself, accordingly, is the first of duties, and includes the
perfection of happiness. The love of all that are like him, and in
proportion as they are so, ranks next in the scale; and hence it is,
that all moral excellence,--the culture of the affections and the
heart,--is to be preferred to intellectual attainments, as these again
are to take precedence of mere physical good.

This established order for the attainment of happiness, is in society
most strangely inverted. Beauty, strength, honour, and riches,--mere
physical qualities,--are generally preferred to the qualities of the
mind;--and mental attainments, again, too often command more
consideration than moral worth. This is altogether an unnatural state of
things; and the consequences of its prevalence in any community, must be
proportionally disastrous. How far the modes for conducting the
education of the young hitherto have tended to extend or perpetuate this
error, it is not for us here to say. But if they have, the sooner the
evil is rectified the better. Happiness, as we have said, is the single
aim of man,--however he may mistake its nature, or the means by which
it is to be attained. And as it is to be found, not in intellectual
power, nor in the possession of physical good, but only in moral
culture, it follows, that the attainment of this moral excellence should
be the one chief design aimed at in the education of the young.

The benevolence and wisdom of this arrangement are obvious. For had
happiness been made to depend on the possession of _intellectual_ power,
few comparatively could have commanded the time and means which are
necessary for the purpose; and had it been attached to the possession of
riches, or honour, or any other species of _physical_ good, there would
have been still fewer. But it is not necessarily attached to the
possession of either. Men may enjoy riches and honours, beauty and
health, and yet they may be unhappy. The highest mental attainments
also, when disjoined from moral excellence, tend only, as in the fallen
angels, to stimulate their pride, and to aggravate their misery. But
happiness is exclusively and unalterably attached to the cultivation of
_the affections_,--to the acquisition of moral excellence;--so that it
is equally within the reach of every individual, however obscure, or
however talented. Few men can be intellectually great,--fewer still can
be rich or powerful; but every man may, if he pleases, be good,--and
therefore happy. In choosing the subjects and exercises then for the
education of the young, those which tend to the production and to the
cultivation of the moral affections,--love to God, and love to men,--are
always to be preferred to those which have relation merely to the
attainment of _intellectual_ acquirements, or the possession of mere
_physical_ good.

4. In choosing subjects and exercises for the education of the young,
reference should be had, all other things being equal, to _the
prosperity and welfare of the community in general_.--We have already
shewn that, under God, the happiness and welfare of every individual
are his own special property, and must in all cases, therefore, be at
his special disposal. No ordinary combination of circumstances will ever
warrant an unjust encroachment on what is so peculiarly his own. But the
happiness and welfare of an individual are almost uniformly found to be
connected with the happiness and prosperity of those with whom he has to
associate. The Educationist, therefore, ought to have the welfare of the
community in view, while he is selecting those exercises which are
specially to benefit his pupil; and he will almost invariably find, that
by choosing those subjects and exercises for the individual, which will
tend most surely to promote the general well-being of society, he will
not only not require a sacrifice of any of the personal benefits to
which the child has a claim, but that he will greatly increase their
amount, and add to their value. When this is the case, to overlook the
good of the community in selecting exercises and subjects for the
school, would be of no advantage to the pupils, and would be an act of
positive injustice to the public at large.

These general principles, we think, when considered singly, must approve
themselves to every thinking mind; and if so, they must be still more
beneficial when they are combined, and acted upon systematically in the
preliminary arrangements of any seminary. The nearer, therefore, the
Educationist can keep to them in making his selection of subjects and
exercises, the better will it be both for the pupil and for the
community at large, while the benefits expected from an exercise where
there is any material deviation from them, will most probably turn out
to be delusive, and the exercise itself detected as the mere bequest of
an antiquated prejudice, or the temporary idol of fashion. These
principles being admitted to be sound in the abstract, will greatly
assist us in deciding upon the relative value and appropriateness of
some of the propositions which we shall immediately have to submit to
the reader; and we would here only remark, for his guidance, that if, in
the following recommendations, he finds an exercise correctly to accord
with the above principles, while he yet hesitates as to the propriety of
its adoption in the school, or feels inclined to accede to its
exclusion,--he ought, in such a case, carefully to review the grounds of
his decision, as these are most likely to be erroneous. He has good
reason to suspect that he is labouring under prejudice, or is unduly
biassed by long cherished opinions, when he refuses the legitimate
application of a general law,--a law which he has previously admitted to
be sound,--and which is as likely to be applicable to the case in hand,
as to any other of a similar kind.


[29] Note R.


_On the particular Branches of Education required for Elementary

In making choice of suitable subjects for the education of a community,
there are two considerations which ought to regulate us in our
selection. The one is, the indications of Nature respecting any branch
of education; and the other is, the peculiar usages of the place and
persons with whom the pupil is destined to associate. As an example of
the former class of subjects, we may instance reading and writing; and
of the latter, book-keeping and the classics. The branches belonging to
the former will be found more or less useful to all without exception;
while those which rank under the second class, although requisite for
some, will be found unnecessary, and generally useless, to many. From
the character of the present work, our business is chiefly with the
former class; and we shall therefore advert very shortly to a few of
them, pointing out the intimations of Nature respecting them, and
giving a few hints as to the best methods by which they may be taught.

And first of all, _Religion and Morals_ are clearly pointed out by
Nature as a branch of education peculiarly necessary for the young. On
this we shall not here again enlarge, but shall merely refer the reader
to some of our previous pages, where it has been made sufficiently

Next in importance as a branch of education plainly indicated by Nature,
we ought to rank _the principles of Natural Philosophy_. We say next _in
importance_, not _in time_; because they are evidently not to be taught
to the child in this order, although it will be found in experience that
these principles may be communicated by successive "steps" much sooner
than is generally thought.[31] Nature begins early; and so should we.
The very infant becomes practically a natural philosopher, and continues
to act regularly upon the truths or principles which experience enables
him to detect. He soon learns that flame burns, that clothes keep his
body warm, that stumbling will cause a fall, and that the support of a
chair or stool will prevent it. As he grows up he learns the danger of
handling sharp knives, hot irons, and burning coals; he learns to detect
some of the effects of the mechanical powers, which he frequently
applies, although he cannot explain them. This we perceive exemplified
in his ingenious contrivances in cutting his sticks, wrenching with
forks, hammering with stones, kicking with his toes, and afterwards more
powerfully with his heels; in trundling his hoop, in sailing his mimic
fleets by the force of his breath, and in adapting to the requisite
moving powers his wind and water mills. He even learns to know something
of the composition of forces, as we perceive by his contrivances in the
flying of his kite, the shooting of his marbles, and the rebounding of
his ball. Now, as these adaptations are never to be ranked under the
class of instinctive actions, but have been in every case acquired by
actual experience, it shews, that there is an outgoing of the mind in
search of principles, and we think it is probable, that these principles
are often, although perhaps but dimly perceived, from the various, and
frequently successful contrivances of the child in difficulties, and in
circumstances when he is desirous of procuring relief. This at all
events shews us, that children are very early prepared, and capable of
receiving instruction of this kind.

The _importance_ attached by Nature to this branch of learning, is not
less remarkable, than is its universality. It is the great hinge upon
which every temporal comfort of the individual is made to turn. What we
have here termed "natural philosophy," is to the body and to time, what
religion and morals are to the soul and eternity;--the well-being of
both depends almost entirely upon the proper application of their
several principles. It is no doubt true, that the principles are not
always very clearly perceived; but it is equally true, that the
application of these principles will be more easy, more frequent, and
much more effective, when they are made familiar by teaching. Hence the
importance of this branch of education for the young.

Next in importance as branches of education, and prior perhaps in point
of time, come the arts of _Reading_ and _Writing_.--Speech is a valuable
gift of Nature, bestowed upon us for the communication of our ideas, and
_writing_ is nothing more than a successful imitation of Nature in doing
so. The hearing of speech, in like manner, is closely copied in the art
of _reading_. These two arts, therefore, as most successful imitations
of Nature, recommend themselves at once to the notice of the teacher as
an important branch of education for the young. The one enabling him to
speak with the hand, and to communicate his ideas to his friend from
any distance; and the other, the art of hearing by the eye, and by which
he can make the good and the wise speak to him as often and as long as
he may feel inclined.[32]

Of _Arithmetic_, we may only remark, that the necessity of sometimes
ascertaining the number of objects, of adding to their number, and at
other times of subtracting from them, indicates sufficiently that this
is a branch of education recommended by Nature. It may only be necessary
here to remark, that, from various concurring circumstances, it appears,
that what is called the Denary Scale is that which is most conducive to
general utility. As to the nature of Arithmetic, and the best methods of
teaching it, we must refer to the Note.[33]

_Music_ is one of Nature's best gifts. The love of it is almost
universal; and few comparatively are unable to relish and practise it.
Its effect in elevating and refining the sentiments in civilized
society, is matter of daily observation; and its power to "soothe the
savage breast," has been often verified. To neglect the cultivation of
music, therefore, during childhood and youth, when it can be best done,
not only without interference with other branches of study, but with
decided advantage in forwarding them, is both imprudent and unjust. We
say that it is _unjust_;--for while much ingenuity and large sums of
money have been expended in producing musical instruments for the
gratification of men, the child of the poorest beggar is in possession
of an instrument in the human voice, which for sweetness, variety,
expression, and above all, for its adaptation to language, has never
been equalled, and stands quite unapproachable by all the contrivances
of man. How cruel then in parents or teachers to allow an instrument so
noble and so valuable to fall to ruin from the want of exercise! It is
to deprive their pupil of a constant solace in affliction, and to dry
up one of the cheapest, the readiest, and the most innocent and
elevating sources both of personal and social enjoyment. Of its uses,
and methods of teaching in the school, we must again refer to the

_Dancing_ is obviously the sister of music, and is perhaps equally
sanctioned by Nature. It is obviously capable of being consecrated and
employed for high moral purposes; and its abuse therefore should form no
argument against its regular cultivation. That it was so employed by the
appointment of God himself, is matter of history; and that it is still
capable of being preserved from abuse, cannot reasonably be denied. The
stand that has so frequently been made against even the innocent
enjoyment of this boon of Nature, is now admitted to be a prejudice,
derived originally from its flagrant and frequent abuse. These
prejudices are gradually and silently melting away; and it is cheering
to see the better feelings of our nature effectively advancing the art
to its legitimate place in education, under the guise of gymnastics and
callisthenics. That these, however, are but imperfect substitutes for
what Nature has intended for the young, is obvious, when we contrast
them with the gambols of the kitten, the friskings of the lamb, and the
unrestrained romps of healthy children newly let loose from the school.
The truth is, that the accumulation of the animal spirits must be thrown
off by exercise, whether the parent or teacher wills it or no; and if
the children are not taught to do this _by rule_, as in dancing, they
will do it without rule, and perhaps beyond the proper limit, both as to
time, place, and quantity. Education indeed cannot be expected to
flourish to the extent desired, till the mental labours of the school
can be occasionally relieved by some physical exercise, either within
doors, or in the open air.[35]

The love of pictures and of _Drawing_ is also a boon bestowed upon us by
Nature, and is a desirable acquisition for the young. The art may
generally be acquired with little trouble, and often with great
enjoyment. It is certainly neither so necessary, nor so valuable, as
some of the branches of which we have been speaking; but as it may be
easily attained, and as its future exercise will always be a source of
innocent and refined enjoyment, it ought to occupy a place in every
educational institution. Almost every person is gratified by looking
upon a good picture; and few comparatively are unable to acquire the
rudiments of the art which produces them. It requires but little
teaching, provided good copies be procured;--and even these will be
frequently unnecessary, where the pupils are encouraged to copy from
Nature. The proper methods of doing this, however, must be left to the
circumstances of the school, and to future experiments.

With respect to the teaching of _History_, a little consideration will
convince us, that it does not consist in the mere communication of
historical facts. History is, or ought to be, a science; and the
succession of events is nothing more than the implements employed by the
master in teaching it. The _facts_ of history, like those of chemistry,
agriculture, or mechanics, are taught merely as means to an end.--They
are the elements from which we derive principles, which are to be
practically applied by the learner; and it is _the ability to apply
these_ that constitutes the learning. The facts upon which any science
is based, must no doubt be known before it can be taught;--but they may
be known without the science having ever been mastered: For it is not a
knowledge of the facts, but the capacity to _make use_ of them, that
entitles a man to the appellation of a chemist, an agriculturist, a
mechanic, or a historian.

Viewing the study of history in this light, we at once perceive, that
the teaching which it requires is not a dry detail of dates and
circumstances;--but the practical uses which ought to be made of them.
The only legitimate use of history is to direct us how we ought to
conduct ourselves as citizens, and how rulers and governors can most
safely and successfully manage the affairs of the public, in all the
varying events of political change. The teacher therefore is to
communicate the facts, for the purpose of turning them to use, by
drawing, and teaching his pupils how to draw lessons of prudence,
energy, or caution, as regards the nation;--in the same way that
Biography is taught for the sake of drawing lessons of a more personal
kind, as regards a family or a neighbourhood. Both were practically
exhibited in the experiment in Aberdeen; by which it was made obvious,
that children, as well as adults, were capable of studying it. Where the
circumstances of a seminary will admit, it ought not to be neglected.
The mere inconveniences which may for some time attend the introduction
of such a mode of teaching history is no good reason for its neglect;
and the want of practical elementary books drawn up upon this plan, in
the form of successive "Steps," is the chief desideratum, which we hope
soon to see supplied.

_Geography_ is another branch of education pointed out to us by Nature
for the benefit of man. We speak here, however, of physical geography,
and not of the historical and political departments of it. These belong
more properly to history. The chief object in teaching this science, is
to convey to the mind of the pupil a correct idea of this world as a
sphere, on the top of which he stands, and of the relative positions of
all the kingdoms and countries on its surface. This will be, and it
ought to be, a work of time. The more correctly and familiarly the pupil
can form the idea of this sphere as a whole, the sooner and the better
will he become acquainted with its parts. Acting upon the principles of
reiteration and analysis, formerly described, the pupil ought to
sketch, however rudely, the great outlines of the four divisions of the
earth, upon a blank, or slate globe, till he can do so with some degree
of correctness. The separated divisions may then be sketched on a common
slate, without caring as yet for the details; and when this can be
accomplished readily, the same thing may be done with the different
kingdoms of which they are severally composed. The child ought never to
be harassed by the minute details, till he comes to sketch the
countries, or the counties. What is required _before this_, is their
relative position, more than their form; and this, upon the principle of
analysis, will be easiest and most permanently acquired by mastering in
the first place the great outlines.

Children, by mere imitation, will practically acquire the art of
_Grammar_, long before they are capable of learning it as a science. It
ought invariably to be taught by "Steps;" and the child should have a
perfect knowledge of the etymological part, before he is allowed to
advance to syntax. The efficiency of this concluding part of grammar,
depends entirely upon his familiarity with the former. It will therefore
be found here, as in the practice of arithmetic, that the prize will
ultimately be awarded, not to him who expends most labour and strength
in running, but to him who has made the best preparation for the race.

The art of _Composition_, or the ability to express our thoughts in an
orderly and natural form, is the last branch of education to which, as
recommended by Nature, we shall here allude. The perfection of this art
appears to depend on three circumstances. There must be a clear
understanding of the subject upon which the person is to write;--there
must, in the second place, be a distinct perception of the most natural
order in which it ought to be presented to the mind and imagination of
others;--and the third is, an ability to manage these materials with
facility, and without distraction of mind, while engaged in writing
them. As to the first of these three, nothing requires to be said here,
as the exercises recommended in the previous part of this Treatise will
almost invariably accomplish it. With respect to the second, that of
presenting the ideas connected with the subject in due and proper order,
it may be remarked, that the hints formerly given, as to the natural
order of "grouping" objects to be presented to the imagination, will be
of great use here, and to them we must refer;[36]--and the third object
here required, that of managing the thoughts at the moment of writing
them, has been in effect already described and treated of, in a previous
part of this Treatise.[37] It is the same kind of ability as that which
is required for acquiring fluency and ease in extemporaneous speaking,
and is to be gained by the use of the same means. It is here only
necessary to observe, that abstract teaching and general directions are
not the things most required for forwarding a child in this branch of
his education. These, at an advanced stage of his learning, will no
doubt be of service; but till the pupil can write with some degree of
freedom, they are in a great measure useless, or worse. What is wanted
most in our elementary schools, is a successful _beginning_;--suitable
exercises to assist the pupil in writing his own thoughts properly, but
in his own way. Many methods have been devised to effect this, and with
more or less success;--but we believe the most efficient, because the
most natural and simple, is that which has been engrafted upon the
paraphrastic exercise. In regard to its ease, it is only necessary to
say, that a child who can but write a sentence, may begin to practise
it;--and its efficiency may be argued from the fact, that while every
step is progressive, the advanced exercises give ample scope for the
abilities of the cleverest in the school.[38]


[30] See Part II. chap. x. p. 111. Part III. chap. ix. p. 257, and p.
310-313. For the methods of teaching, see Note S.

[31] Note T.

[32] Note U.

[33] Note V.

[34] Note W.

[35] Note A a.

[36] See pages 215, 216.

[37] See Pages 297, &c.


_On the Easiest Methods of Introducing these Principles, for the first
time, into Schools already established._

That the educational principles attempted to be developed in the
preceding pages, shall ultimately pervade the great fields of Elementary
learning, admits we think of but little doubt; and yet the diminutive
word "When?" in relation to this change, forms a question, which it
would be extremely difficult to answer. Every improvement of the kind
hitherto has been gradual; and experience shews, that the admission of
the most important principles in Science, has been often retarded,
rather than forwarded, by undue precipitation on the part of their
friends. It is with this historical fact in view that the following
hints are now offered, in order to render any sudden change unnecessary,
and to enable teachers gradually to feel their way to greater success by
_new_ methods, without making any material change for some time on the
_old_. We speak advisedly when we say, that two half hours daily, if
regularly and honestly employed in working out these principles in a
school, will do more real good in forwarding the education of the pupils
attending it, than all the rest of the day put together. This portion of
time, divided between the two parts of the day, would not materially
interfere with the usual routine of any seminary, which might still be
proceeded with as before, till the teacher saw his way more clearly in
enlarging the exercises, and extending the time.

_Younger Classes._--With respect to the young children who are as yet
incapable of understanding by reading, we would advise that they be
repeatedly exercised by a monitor in sections of four or five, during
not more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time, by means of the
"Scripture Groupings for children." The Key to that little book will
enable any monitor, or even scholar, who can read, efficiently to
perform this duty. The design here is chiefly mental exercise; but with
that mental exercise, the most important and valuable information may be
communicated. The monitor is to announce a sentence, and then to
catechise on it, taking care to avoid all "Catechetical Wanderings,"[39]
and confining himself strictly to the sentence announced, from which the
child in that case will always be able to bring his answer.

When a section has been mastered, the children may be encouraged to tell
the story in their own way, the monitor taking care that the child is
not reiterating the _words_, instead of the _ideas_. A few of the moral
circumstances may also be presented to their minds, and the lessons
drawn and applied according to their capacity.

_Second Classes._--Where the children are capable of reading, they may
get a section of the "Groupings," or of any of the "First Steps," to
read at home. On this they ought to be catechised in school, before
reading it there, to see whether it has been previously read and
understood or not. This preparation ought to be strictly enforced. They
may then read it by sentences in turn, be catechised upon it, have the
moral circumstances separated, and the lessons drawn and applied. One
section should in general be _thoroughly known and mastered_, before
passing to another; and all the previous sections should be frequently
and extensively revised, chiefly by the application of their several

_Higher Classes._--The whole school, with the exception perhaps of the
very young classes, may be taken together, and catechised on some
section of one of the Steps, or on a passage of Scripture previously
prescribed. This they ought each to read and understand _at home_, and
be prepared to paraphrase it, to separate the moral circumstances, and
to draw the corresponding lessons.[40] This will in a short time be easy
for them; and to ensure the preparation, the name of each pupil ought to
be kept on a separate card, and these being shuffled, the teacher, after
asking the question at the whole, may take the upmost card, and require
that child to answer it. All must in that case be prepared, as none can
know but he may be the person who shall be called on publicly to answer.
The application of the lessons will be found the most useful, and to the
children the most interesting part of this exercise. In this the teacher
supposes a circumstance, or situation, corresponding to the lesson
drawn, in which the pupils may be placed; and he requires them to say
how they ought to act in such a case. When they give their _opinion_,
they must then give their _authority_; that is, they must refer to the
lesson, and through the lesson, to the Scripture truth from which it was

_Natural Philosophy._--In teaching the principles of _Natural
Philosophy_, a select class may be formed, more circumscribed as to
number, and from among the more advanced scholars. To these, a section,
or part of section, of the "First Step to Natural Philosophy," is to be
given to prepare at home,--to understand, and to be ready to draw and
apply the lessons,--in a manner similar to that prescribed above, and as
illustrated in the Key to that work.

_Writing._--In teaching the art of _Writing_, upon the preceding
principles, the chief object is to train the pupils easily and readily
to _write down their own thoughts_. To accomplish this, a certain
portion of their time may be occupied as follows. The teacher reads a
sentence, or a paragraph, or, what will perhaps be better, a short
story, or anecdote, and requires the whole of them to write it down in
their _books_ for after examination. These of course are to be examined
and corrected, with any necessary remarks by the teacher or
assistant.--In this exercise, there is no necessity for circumscribing
the pupils as to time,--it being required that they write accurately,
grammatically, and neatly, whether in large or small text. To all those
who are first finished, some other exercise ought to be provided that
they may in that manner usefully occupy the time that may remain of
their hour.

_Arithmetic._--The introduction of the Arithmetic Rod, and its Key, into
a school, will be productive of many advantages.[41] The line of figures
upon the A side of the Rod, being painted on a board in sight of the
whole school, and which is never required to be altered, the teacher has
only to announce a sum to be added to each of the figures; the first
pupil that is done, deposits his slate on a table, stool, or form, and
goes to his place; the next places his slate above his, and the others
in the same way as they finish. The answer in the Key will shew their
accuracy, and the order in which their slates lie points out their
respective merits. Another very important object is gained by this
exercise; for the teacher, by recording the time taken by any one of the
pupils in adding a particular sum to the line, can measure by the watch
the rate of his improvement every month, every week, or even every day.
The parents of any child, by means of the Rod and its Key, can also do
this at home with perfect exactness.

These hints for the regulation of teachers are thrown out with great
deference, as they have not been sufficiently tested by actual
experiments. Teachers, however, will be able, each for himself,
according to the circumstances of his school, and the capacities of his
children, to adopt such parts as he finds most effective; and so to
modify others, that the end shall perhaps be more efficiently gained,
than by strictly adhering to any one of them.--Education in all its
parts is yet in its infancy; and these crude hints can only be expected
to help it forward to maturity.


[38] See Key to Second Initiatory Catechism, pages xxi. & xxii.

[39] See Complete Directory for Sunday School Teachers, vol. i. p. 278.

[40] For these exercises the Teacher or monitor will find himself
greatly assisted by means of the "Helps" to Genesis, Luke, Acts, &c.
where, besides the lessons, all the explanations are given in the form
of a paraphrase.

[41] See Note V.



Note A, pages 45 and 55.--It may perhaps be reasonably objected to this
term of "Reiteration," that it is a new term for an act of the mind
which has already received another name. The Author's excuse is
two-fold. In the first place, he thinks, that any other term which he
could have employed, might have been misunderstood, as writers are not
as yet at one on the subject. But, secondly, no other term would have
included so fully all that he intends to designate by the act of
"Reiteration." In this he may be mistaken; but as it is of little
consequence by what name an object may be called, provided the thing so
named be properly defined, he thought it safest to apply the term he
best understood, and which, in his opinion, most correctly describes the
act itself.

The same thing may be said of the terms, "Individuation," "Grouping,"
and "Classification," which may perhaps be nothing more than
"Abstraction," "Combination," and "Generalization." His misconception of
those latter terms, and of what is included in them, may have led him to
think that the mental operations which he has perceived in the young are
different. If so, there can be little harm in using the terms here
adopted; but if, on the contrary, they do really include more, it would
have been hurtful to use a term which had been previously defined, and
which did not include the whole that was intended.

Note B, p. 56.--It may be a question, but one certainly of little
practical consequence, whether we ought to place the principle of
"Individuation," or this of "Reiteration," first in order. The child, no
doubt, fixes upon the individual object before he can reiterate it; but
it is still this act of reiteration that first impresses the idea on the
mind, and constitutes it a part of his knowledge.

Note C, p. 58.--It may be proper here to explain once for all, that it
is not the intention of the Author, as indeed he has not the ability, to
define scientifically the mental processes which he thinks he has
observed in the young. His object is simply to point them out, so that
they may be successfully imitated by the teacher in the exercises of the

Note D, p. 60.--The fact, that children who learn to repeat words
without understanding them, do sometimes acquire the meaning of them
afterwards, is no valid objection to the accuracy of this statement.
Repeated experiments, in various forms, and with different persons, have
established the important fact, that when children at any future period
master the ideas contained in the words which they had previously
committed to memory, it is not _because_ of that exercise, but _in spite
of it_. They have attained them by another, and a perfectly different
process. It is generally by reading the words from the memory,--thinking
them over,--and in that way searching for, and reiterating the ideas
they contain. This is much more difficult than when the person reads for
the first time the same words from a book; and it has this serious
disadvantage, that it has to be read from the memory _every time_ the
ideas are required, which is not the case when the ideas are reiterated
in the natural way by hearing, or by reading.--On this subject see the
Experiment made before the Clergy and Teachers of Stirling, in July
1833, with "Blind Alick" of that place, who could repeat the whole
Bible;--and the Supplementary Experiment to ascertain the same
principle, made in the House of Correction in Belfast, before the
Teachers and Clergymen of that town, in December 1837.

Note E, p. 83.--Perhaps it may be found, that "Grouping," and
"Classification," are only different manifestations of the same
principle. But even if it were so, it would have been necessary here to
treat of them separately, on account of the very different uses made of
them by Nature. The present, be it observed, is not a metaphysical
treatise, but a humble attempt to be popularly useful.--See Note C.

Note F, p. 105.--This principle may by some be considered as "instinct,"
and others may affirm that it is "reason." All that we require to do
here is to point out the phenomenon,--not to define it. The name is of
little consequence. It is the principle itself, as perceived in its
manifestations, that we have to do with, for the purpose of successfully
imitating it in our dealings with the young.

Note G, p. 132.--There needs scarcely any farther proof of this than the
fact, that barristers, by constant practice, are usually the most fluent
extemporaneous speakers. It is also strongly corroborative of the
statement in the text, that clergymen generally, and especially those
who are most accustomed to the use of extemporaneous prayers and
sermons, find most ease in replying to an opponent on any subject that
is familiar to them.

Note H, p. 160, & 201.--It is a very remarkable fact, to which the
attention of the writer was lately called, that Mrs Wesley, the mother
of the Rev. John Wesley, founder of the Wesleyan Methodists, appears to
have acted upon the principles here developed. In Southey's Life of that
great man, there occurs the following Note:

"Mrs Wesley thus describes her peculiar method (of teaching her children
to read,) in a letter to her son John, (the founder of the Wesleyan

"None of them were taught to read till five years old, except Kezzy, in
whose case I was overruled; and she was more years in learning than any
of the rest had been months. The way of teaching was this: The day
before a child began to learn, the house was set in order, every one's
work appointed them, and a charge given that none should come into the
room from nine till twelve, or from two till five, which were our school
hours. One day was allowed the child wherein to learn its letters, and
each of them did in that time know all its letters, great and small,
except Molly and Nancy, who were a day and a half before they knew them
perfectly, for which I then thought them very dull; but the reason why I
thought them so, was because the rest learned them so readily; and your
brother Samuel, who was the first child I ever taught, learnt the
alphabet in a few hours. He was five years old the 10th of February; the
next day he began to learn; and as soon as he knew the letters, began at
the 1st chapter of Genesis. He was taught to spell the 1st verse, then
to read it over and over till he could read it off hand without any
hesitation;--so on to the second, &c. till he took ten verses to a
lesson, which he quickly did. Easter fell low that year, and by
Whitsuntide he could read a chapter very well; for he read continually,
and had such a prodigious memory, that I cannot remember ever to have
told him the same word twice. What was yet stranger, any word he had
learnt in his lesson, he knew wherever he saw it, either in his Bible or
any other book, by which means he learnt very soon to read an English
author well.

"The same method was observed with them all. As soon as they knew the
letters, they were first put to spell and read one line, then a verse,
never leaving till perfect in their lesson, were it shorter or longer.
So one or other continued reading at school, time about, without any
intermission; and before we left school, each child read what he had
learned that morning, and ere we parted in the afternoon, what he had
learned that day."--_Southey's Life of Wesley_, Note, p. 429.

In the above simple narrative, there is a distinct reference to the
principles of "Reiteration," and "Individuation," and hence Mrs Wesley's
great success.

Note I, p. 162.--When the true nature of Education is better understood,
it will be found that a child may have advanced far on its path by oral
instruction, before it be either necessary or desirable that he should
be compelled to read for himself. To assist the parent and teacher in
this preliminary part of their duty, the "First Initiatory Catechism,"
or the "First Steps" to the Old and the New Testaments, with their
respective Keys, may be used with advantage,--they having been
constructed upon the principles here recommended. But the best Book _to
begin with_, will be the "Groupings from Scripture," with its Key for
the use of monitors, or older children, who can by its means greatly
assist the parent or teacher in the work. In making use of that little
book, the sentences are to be announced in whole or in parts to the
pupils one by one; and upon which they are to be thoroughly and
extensively catechised. As for example, the first announcement may be
given thus:--"_God made the first man_," from which the following
questions may be formed--"Who made the first man?" "Whom did God make?"
"What man did God make?" "What did God do to the first man?" The teacher
or monitor ought then to add the additional fact, "that God made the
first man _of clay_," and catechise again upon the whole. After this is
well understood, he may complete the sentence, "God made the first man
of clay, _and called him Adam_." The child will then be able--not to
repeat the words only, for that is not the effect of this
exercise,--but to communicate the ideas in his _own words_; which,
however, will generally be found to be the very same as in the book.
This distinction is most important. When the whole section has been
completely mastered, the lessons and their applications may also be
taught;--by all of which the mental faculties will soon become vigorous
and lively, and the pupil will be well prepared for all the exercises to
which he may afterwards be called.

Note K, p. 151.--The art of catechising from any lesson or book, is a
very simple one when the principle is understood. It consists simply in
selecting the most important words contained in the announcement, and
forming a question upon each of them, in such a manner, as to require
that particular word from the pupil as the answer to the question raised
upon it. For example, when the teacher has in four words announced the
fact, that "Jesus died for sinners;" he will be able to form a question
from the three chief ones, "Jesus,"--"died," and "sinners." These
questions will be, "Who died?"--"What did Jesus do for sinners?" and
"For whom did Jesus die?" It is not necessary that the words should be
taken up in their order, which may be always left to the discretion of
the teacher. For the several parts of this principle, as employed upon
clauses, or whole sentences or subjects, see next Note L.

Note L, p. 185.--The Catechetical Exercise has for convenience been
divided into three kinds of exercises, called the "Connecting Exercise,"
the "General Exercise," and the "Verbal Exercise." The "Connecting
Exercise," includes those comprehensive questions, which require the
pupil to go over perhaps a whole subject, or several sentences, to
complete his answer; as if in teaching the Parable of the Sower, the
pupil were asked, "What were the several kinds of ground on which the
seed was sown?" or, "What is said of the seed sown by the way side?" In
answering either of these questions he would have to combine many ideas,
and the truths contained in several distinct clauses. This exercise is
used commonly in revising several sections at a time after they have
been taught.

The "General Exercise," is used in all the advanced classes, sometimes
in connection with the Verbal Exercise, and includes those questions
chiefly which are formed upon clauses in the book or section taught. As,
for example, when the pupil is asked, "What became of the seed sown by
the way side?" or, "What did the birds of the air do?" he has to give
one or more clauses, containing several ideas, as his answer.

The "Verbal Exercise" has to do only with the words of the clauses, and
the single idea which the particular word is intended to convey; as when
it is said, "the birds of the air devoured it up;" the questions, "What
devoured the seed?" "What birds?" "What did the birds do?" "What did the
birds devour?" refer chiefly to the words, and the single ideas which
they communicate.

It may be here remarked, however, that although these exercises are
divided in theory, they ought seldom to be altogether separated in
practice. In using the Verbal Exercise with the younger classes, many
questions will be required which properly belong to the "General;" and
in using the "General Exercise" with the advanced classes, neither the
"Connecting," nor the "Verbal Exercise," ought to be altogether

Note M, p. 192.--In communicating knowledge to the young by means of the
Catechetical Exercise, care ought to be taken that the truths or ideas
be communicated regularly, and not too many at a time. In making use of
the "Groupings," or "First Steps," the contents of one section ought to
be well understood, and all the circumstances to be made familiar,
before the child passes to another. To do otherwise is not to forward,
but to retard his advance in the attainment of knowledge. There ought
also to be frequent returns upon the sections formerly mastered, so that
the truths be more and more firmly fixed upon the memory. This will also
be accomplished by means of the lessons from the several moral truths
taught, and by their application to the circumstances of ordinary life.

It is also a matter of great practical importance, in teaching any
subject, that the teacher confine himself strictly to it, avoiding all
kinds of "Catechetical Wandering," by which the minds of his pupils will
be distracted and enfeebled if they _cannot_ follow him, and by which
their attention will be powerfully drawn away from the lesson, if they
_can_.--For example, if the subject to be taught be the "Good
Samaritan," nothing can be plainer than that the mind of the pupil ought
to be concentrated upon the subject, till it be "grouped," and fixed
upon the mind and memory as one combined and moving scene, so that one
circumstance in the story will conjure up all the others.--This is
Nature's plan.--But if the teacher, at the very commencement, when the
child has read that "a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho,"
shall call his attention from the story itself, to ask where Jerusalem
was? What was Judea? Who dwelt there? Who was their progenitor? From
what bondage were they saved? Who conducted them through the wilderness?
Who brought them into Judea? requiring the whole history of the Jews,
their captivity, and restoration; the effect is most pernicious, and is
fatal to the great design intended by the teacher. It is destructive of
that habit of concentration of mind upon a particular subject, which is
always the accompaniment of genius; and which ought to be cultivated in
the young with the greatest assiduity and care. But this habit of
"Catechetical Wandering," does not stop here, for the teacher has yet
another word in this first sentence which admits of a similar treatment;
and instead of returning to the lesson, he takes up the word "Jericho,"
by means of which he follows a similar course; "riding off" from the
original subject, and leaving the child bewildered and confused, to
commence again, to be again interrupted and distracted by other
irrelevant questions. Many evils result from this practice; and the
cause is obvious. For if the child has been taught these irrelevant
truths before, this is obviously not the time to introduce them, when
he is in the very act of _learning a new subject_;--and if he has not
been taught them previously, the matter becomes worse; for by this
attempt to teach a variety of new things at the same time, some
important principles of Nature are still more violently
outraged.--_After_ the subject has been taught, and the child is called
on to _revise_ his several lessons, then is the time to combine them,
and to point out their various connections,--but not before.

Note N, p. 195.--It will always be found advisable to teach the alphabet
to children long before they begin to read; and while they are being
verbally exercised on the "Groupings from Scripture," and other books of
a similar kind. To do so at home by way of games, will be found easiest
for the parent, and most pleasant for the child. By having the small
letters on four dice, (six on each,) and allowing the use of only one
till the six letters on its sides are familiar;--and not giving the
third, till those on the two first have been mastered; and the same with
the fourth,--will be found useful, provided they be only occasionally
made use of. A too frequent repetition of the _game_ will destroy its
effect; and therefore, as there is sufficient time, it ought only to be
allowed on proper, and perhaps on _great_ occasions. Other contrivances,
besides those given in the text, such as making the child guess at
letters, drawing letters from a bag, and naming them, &c. will readily
occur to ingenious parents or teachers. It should be observed, that as
this acquirement is needed but _once_ in the child's lifetime, a little
pains or trouble ought not to be grudged in forwarding it.

Note O, p. 208.--In using the "First Class Book on the Lesson System,"
the teacher must take care that the letters and their sounds, or powers,
be perfectly familiar to the child before he begins to read. The first
lesson, of course, is composed altogether of words new to the child,
each of which he must be taught to _read_ by combining the powers of the
letters composing it;--and he must never be allowed to pass on to the
following word, till all the previous ones can be correctly and readily
decyphered. Before beginning to the second, or succeeding lessons, the
new words occurring in it, (which are prefixed,) must be read and made
familiar to him one by one, and explained if necessary. By this means he
will soon be able to _pick up the ideas_ in his lesson by even a first
reading, which is the great end that the teacher ought to have in
view.--The capital letters need not be taught till the child comes to
them in his reading.--The lessons being consecutive, none must be

Note P, p. 220.--The nature of successive "Steps" will be better
understood by using, than by describing them. The following, however,
will give some idea of their design; keeping in mind, that the contents
of the several branches must be written out in such a manner as to
convey the ideas in the common way. The following is a rude sketch of
what the History of Joseph would be like, if the ideas under each branch
of the analysis were fairly written out as First, Second, and Third




 Substance of | Substance of a  |
 a First Step.| Second Step.    |         Substance of a Third Step.
              {Joseph's father  {Jacob loved Joseph best of his family; who
 Joseph       {was partial to   {Brought him the evil reports of them; and
 was beloved  {him.             {Got a coat of many colours.
 by his       {
 father,      {And he dreamed   {Joseph told his dream of the sheaves,
 and          {that he was      {And his brothers hated him the more.
 hated        {to be great.     {He told his dream of the sun and stars;
 by his       {                 {And his father observed the saying.
 brothers;    {
              {These things     {His brothers would not speak peaceably to
              {made the family  {Him; and envied and hated him; and
              {uneasy.          {His father expostulated with him.

                                {Joseph sought his brothers at Dothan;
              {Joseph was       {Was cast into a pit, and afterwards
              {cruelly used by  {Sold for a slave.
              {his brothers,    {His brothers concealed the crime, and
              {                 {His father mourned him as dead.
 And although {
 he was       {                 {Joseph was carried to Egypt, and
 long in      {And was made     {Was a slave in Potiphar's house;
 affliction,  {a slave to       {Where he was industrious and faithful;
              {Potiphar;        {And was tempted by his mistress.
              {                 {Joseph was unjustly put into confinement.
              {Who unjustly     {He was useful in prison, where
              {cast him into    {A butler and baker were confined.
              {prison.          {Joseph interpreted their dreams; but was
                                {Left in prison by the butler forgetting

              {                 {Pharoah was displeased with the magicians.
              {He was brought   {The butler told him of Joseph;
              {out to Pharoah,  {And Joseph interpreted his dreams,
              {                 {And was advanced to authority.
              {                 {Joseph married and was made next to
              {And made ruler   {Pharoah. He collected corn for seven
              {over all Egypt;  {Years; Distributed it to all nations; and
 He rose      {                 {Sold it for the cattle and lands of Egypt.
 at last      {
 to great     {                 {Joseph's brothers came to Egypt for food;
 prosperity.  {During which     {And he spake roughly to them.
              {time he behaved  {He detained Simeon;
              {with great       {Brought and entertained Benjamin;
              {prudence to his  {And hid his cup in Benjamin's sack.
              {brothers;        {He then made himself known to his brothers.
              {                 {Joseph brought his father and family to
              {And kindly       {Egypt. He settled, supported, and honoured
              {took care of the {Them. He buried his father,
              {whole family.    {And left several charges with his brothers.

Note Q, p. 225.--In giving a specimen of this mode of illustrating a
connected subject, we may only premise, that the method, as a branch of
Education, requires that all the general heads should be perceived
first, before any of them is sub-divided. For example, Paul's sermon at
Antioch, (Acts xiii.) must be perceived by the pupil in its great
outline, or general heads, before he be called on to separate these into
their several particulars. These heads as given in the Analysis, (Help
to Acts, vol. I. p. 187,) are to the following purport:

"The design of Paul in this discourse appears to be,

 I. To conciliate the Jews.

 II. To prove that the Messiah had already come, and that Jesus
 was that Messiah.

 III. To remove certain objections against Jesus being the

 IV. To establish the claims of Jesus as the Messiah; and,

 V. To press his salvation upon their notice and acceptance."

When these general divisions, or heads, are understood, either by
reading the respective verses which they occupy, or by the oral
illustration of the teacher, each of them may then be taken separately,
and sub-divided into its parts. For example, the first head, which in
the analysis is, "_First_, Paul endeavours to conciliate the Jews by
giving a brief outline of their history, till the days of David, to whom
the Messiah was specially promised," ver. 17-23. This first of the above
five heads, is separable into the following particulars. "1. The
condition of the Jews in, and their deliverance from, Egypt;--2. Their
history in the wilderness;--3. The destruction of their enemies, and
their settlement in Canaan;--4. Of the Judges till the time of
Samuel;--5. The origin of the kingly authority in Israel;--and 6. The
history of their two first kings." These again may be sub-divided into
their several parts, of which the last will form a good example. It
appears in the Analysis in the following form:

 VI. History of their two first kings.
   i. Of Saul, and the time of his reign, ver. 21.
   ii. Of David, and his character.
     1. Saul was removed to make room for David, ver. 22.
     2. David was chosen by God to be their king, ver. 22.
     3. An account of David's character, and God's dealing with him.
        [1.] God's testimony concerning David.
          (1.) What David was, ver. 22.
          (2.) What David was to do, ver. 22.
        [2.] God's promise to David.
          (1.) A Saviour was to be raised up for Israel, ver. 23.
          (2.) This Saviour was to be of David's seed, ver. 23.

Note R, p. 314.--There is not perhaps a subject in the whole range of
human investigation that is so much misunderstood in practice, as a
person's own happiness. Whatever causes uneasiness, or distress, or
anxiety of mind, destroys happiness;--which shews that it is this
pleasure, or delight itself,--this exercise of the heart, that we are
seeking, and not the money, or the applause, or the sensual indulgences,
which sometimes procure it. The heart of man has been made for something
higher and more noble than these grovelling objects of sense and time.
History and experience shew, that it can never be satisfied with any
finite good; and especially, the possession of all earthly enjoyments
only leaves the void more conspicuous and more painful. The whole world,
if it were attained, would but more powerfully illustrate its own
poverty; for even Alexander weeps because there are no more worlds to
conquer. Scripture declares, and Nature, so far as we can trace her,
confirms it, that man--and man alone--was _made after the image of
God_,--and therefore nothing short of God himself can ever satisfy
_him_. Heaven itself would be inadequate to fill the soul, or to allay
the cravings of such a being. The fellowship and love of the Almighty,
and that _alone_, by the very constitution of our nature, can fill and
satisfy the boundless desires of the human heart. They who stop short of
this, can never be satisfied; while they who place their happiness on
HIM, will always be full, because he alone is infinite. The
love of God, and the desire for his glory then, are the only true
foundation of human happiness. And hence it is, that the perfection of
enjoyment, and the whole sum of duty, meet in this one point,--THE

Note S, p. 318.--The writer is aware that, in doing justice to this
department of a child's education, it is impossible to avoid the charge
of "enthusiasm," perhaps "illiberality," or "fanaticism." In what we
have urged in the preceding pages, we have endeavoured calmly to state
and illustrate simple facts,--plain indications of Nature,--and to draw
the obvious deductions which they suggest. We intend to follow precisely
the same course here, although quite aware that we are much more liable
to be misunderstood, or misrepresented. We shall at least endeavour
calmly to put what we have to say upon a true philosophical basis.

We all admire what is termed "Roman Greatness,"--that self-esteem that
would not allow the possessor to degrade himself, even in his own
estimation, by indulging in any thing that was mean, or disreputable, or
contrary to the unchangeable rule of right. Cato's probity, who chose to
die rather than appear to connive at selfishness; and Brutus's love of
justice, who could, with a noble heroism, and without faltering, doom
even his own sons to death in the midst of the entreaties of his friends
for their pardon, and the concurrence of the people;--are but two out of
numberless instances from ancient history. Now we ask, if we admire, and
approve of men being so jealous of _their_ honour, is it to be imagined
that the God who made them, and who implanted those high moral
sentiments in their breasts, should be less jealous of _his_?--Every one
will acknowledge that he is infinitely more so.--And it is in accordance
with this true philosophical sentiment, that we come to the conclusion,
that to teach religion,--that is, to teach the character of God, and the
duty we owe him,--without what is called the "peculiar doctrines" of
Christianity, is to lower the character of the Almighty, and to impugn
his holiness, his faithfulness, his justice, and even his
goodness;--things under the imputation of which even a high-minded Roman
would have felt himself degraded and insulted.

In teaching Religion and Morality to the young, therefore, the pupil
must know, that God is too holy to look upon sin, or to connive at
it;--too just to permit the very least transgression to pass with
impunity;--too faithful to allow his intimations, either in Nature, or
in Providence, or in Scripture, ever to fail, or to be called in
question, without danger;--and too good to risk the happiness of his
holy creatures, by allowing them to suppose it even _possible_ that they
can ever indulge in sin, and yet escape misery. Where a knowledge of
these attributes of Deity is _wanting_, his character must appear
grievously defective; but wherever they are _denied_, it is most
blasphemously dishonoured.--Hence the importance of even a child knowing
how it is that "God can be just, while he justifies the ungodly."

All these perfections, with the additional revelation of his mercy and
grace, are exhibited, and greatly magnified and honoured, by the
Christian scheme; and it is to the simplicity of this, as the foundation
of the child's education, that we wish at present to direct the
attention of the parent and teacher.

A child may be taught to know that God hates sin, and that he must, as a
just God, punish even the least transgression. There is no difficulty in
understanding this simple truth. And it may be made equally clear, that
man must have suffered for himself, and that for ever, if God had not
sent his Son Jesus Christ to endure in their place the punishment which
the inflexible nature of his justice required. To believe that God will
pardon sin _without_ such an atonement, is, as we have shewn, to sully
the character of God; while to believe it, and to act upon the belief,
is at once the highest honour we can pay to his perfections, and becomes
the strongest possible stimulant to a grateful heart to avoid sin, and
to strive to love and to obey Him. This accordingly is the sum of
Christianity, when divested of its technicalities; and this is the
foundation,--and the only proper foundation, upon which to rear either
morality or religion. But it _does_ form a solid and ample foundation
for that purpose. And there is perhaps no Christian of any sect who will
deny, that either child or adult, who simply depends for pardon and
acceptance with a holy God, on the substitution of the Saviour, and who,
in evidence of his sincerity, strives to hate and avoid sin, and to love
and obey God, is not in a safe state.

In teaching these simple fundamental truths to the young, the parent or
teacher will find the "Shorter Confession of Faith," of great use. Its
"First Step" ought to be taught first; and the second must on no account
be proceeded with, till the truths in the first have become familiar.
The same rule ought also to be adopted with the second, before passing
to the third. The "First Initiatory Catechism" has also been found of
great benefit to the young; and which is very easily and successfully
taught by means of its Key.

The foundation being thus laid, the great object of the teacher then is
to train the child to duty;--teaching, in a familiar way, what _conduct_
ought to be avoided, and what pursued,--what is displeasing to God, and
what he delights in. This can only be done, or at least is best done, by
drawing lessons from Scripture. The very commandment, "Thou shalt not
steal," is dealt with by Nature in this way; for when we examine the
operation of the mind, when acting even upon the direct precept, we find
that it assumes the form of a lesson, which in that case is only an echo
of the command. Scripture example and narrative, however, are always
preferable with children; and perhaps the best method of initiating them
into the ability to perceive and draw lessons generally, will be to
begin and carry them forward by means of the "Progressive Exercises" at
the end of the First Initiatory Catechism. Very young children are able
to _commence_ this important exercise; and the information and
directions given in the Key will enable any monitor to carry them

The application of the lessons ought to be the principal concern of the
teacher. On this much of their utility depends, and of which the
following will afford a sufficient example.

In the 5th line of the "Progressive Exercises," above referred to, the
announcement is simply that "Rebekah was obliging,"--from which the
child will readily enough draw the lesson, that "we also should be
obliging." But to _apply_ this lesson, the teacher is to suppose a
corresponding case, and to ask the child how it ought to behave on that
occasion. For example, he may ask, "If a companion wanted a sight of
your book, what should you do?" "Lend it to him."--"From what do you get
that lesson?" "From Rebekah being obliging."--"If you saw your companion
drop his ball, or his marble, without perceiving it, what should you
do?" "Pick it up and give it to him."--"How do you know that you ought
to do that?" "From God giving Rebekah as our example, who was obliging."

The field which here opens up for the ingenuity of the teacher for the
moral improvement of the young is almost boundless.

Note T, p. 318.--The method which both Nature and experience have
pointed out, as the best for giving a practical knowledge of the
principles of Natural Philosophy to children, is to state and explain
some general principle, such as, that "Soft and porous bodies are bad
conductors (of heat;") and then set them to think, by asking what
special lessons that general truth teaches them. This leads the pupil to
a train of thought, which will at all events prepare him for the proper
lessons when suggested by the teacher, and which will enable him at once
to perceive why his mother has to make use of a cloth when using the
smoothing iron; why a metal tea-pot must have a wooden handle;--why soft
clothing preserves the heat of his body, and keeps him warm;--and why
the poker by the fire gets heated throughout, while a piece of wood, the
same length and in the same spot, remains comparatively cool.

To teach the phenomena of Nature, out of their mutual relations to the
general principle, would be both laborious and evanescent, because of
the want of the great connecting link, afforded by the analytical method
here supposed. It was by the above means that the children, in the
experiment in Aberdeen, and more especially those in that at Newry,
appeared to the examinators to be inexhaustible; they having, during a
space of time unprecedentedly short, got hold of principles which
enabled them, without any great stretch of memory, and by the
association of ideas, to account for hundreds of familiar objects and
circumstances, the nature and working of which they had never perhaps
thought of before.

The application of the lessons in these exercises is equally necessary,
and equally beneficial. It may be _directly_ from some of the lessons
drawn, such as, "Why is it inconvenient to handle hot irons?" "Because
hard bodies readily conduct heat." Or it may be varied by asking the
reason of a phenomenon not formerly perceived;--such as, "Why does the
fire scorch the foot when it is without a stocking, and not when we have
a stocking on?" "Because soft bodies, such as the stocking, do not
readily conduct heat." These are sufficient as specimens of the mode of
conducting classes upon these principles; the "Steps," and their "Keys,"
constructed for the purpose, will assist both teacher and pupil in their
proper working.

Note U, p. 320.--In teaching children to read, two things are to be
specially observed.--_First_, that the child shall know that the letters
in a syllable are used merely as the signs of sound, by the combination
of which he is to get a _hint_ only of the sound of the whole word. This
will very soon enable him to teach himself.--The _second_ is, that the
child shall know that his reading is only another way of getting at
truth by words _seen_, instead of words _heard_. This will make him
search for the ideas, even while learning to read; and the habit being
formed, he will never afterwards be satisfied without understanding all
that he reads.

The letters of the Alphabet, with their powers, having been made
familiar, the "First Class Book" may be put into the pupil's hand, and
the first word taught him by the combination of the three
letters,--"Bob." Shew him how the letters pronounced shortly, and
rapidly one after another, _form the word_. He will then be able to
_read_ this word wherever he finds it. The word "has," is to be taught
in the same way, and then the word "dog." He must then be asked, "Who
has a dog?" and "What has Bob?" till he understands that these three
words convey an idea. The second and succeeding lines are to be taught
the same way;--the teacher making him read the words in different parts
_out of their order_, to take care that he does not repeat by rote.

At every new lesson he must learn to read the words which precede it,
and to read them _well_ before beginning. The great design of his
reading being to collect the ideas conveyed by the words, his doing so
is greatly facilitated by his learning to read the words before
beginning to the lesson. It is only necessary to remark, that the
homely nature of the lessons tends greatly to produce the effect here
designed, and which would not perhaps be so successfully accomplished at
this stage in any other way.

Children may be taught to _write_ almost as soon as they can read a few
of their lessons. Care being taken that they hold the pen properly, they
will soon learn to form the letters as an amusement;--and when these are
known, they will soon be able to combine them into words. When they
begin to write sentences, it ought to be from their own minds, or
memories, but not from copies. Writing is merely an imitation of Nature
in her operation of conveying ideas by speech; and the nearer the
imitation can be made to correspond with the original, the more perfect
will it be. Speech is intended solely for the communication of our
ideas;--and so should writing. We teach children words and the names of
things, but we never teach them to express their own thoughts, by
rehearsing after us either long or short speeches of our own. Neither
can we so readily teach children to express their own thoughts by
writing, if we attempt to do it by making them copy words which others
have thought for them, and the ideas of which they themselves perhaps do
not perceive. Copy-lines are a great hinderance to the young; and even
for teaching the correct and elegant formation of the letters they do
not appear to be always necessary.

Note V, p. 320.--Arithmetic, and numerical calculations of every kind,
are wrought by what have been termed "the four simple Rules," viz.
Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division. They who are expert
and accurate in working _these_, have only to learn the several rules by
which they are applied to all the varied purposes of life, to be perfect

But when the working of these four rules is analysed, we find that, with
the exception of the multiplication table, the whole four are merely
different applications of the rule of addition. Subtraction is wrought by
_adding_ a supposed sum to the figure to be subtracted;--multiplication
(with the exception mentioned above,) it wrought simply by _adding_ the
carryings and the aggregate of the several lines;--and division, with the
same exception, is also in practice wrought by a series of _additions_. If
then we shall suppose the multiplication table fully mastered, it follows,
that the person who has attained greatest expertness _in addition_, will
be the most expert in the working of any and every arithmetical exercise to
which he may be called.

But _expertness_ in arithmetical calculations, is by no means so
valuable as _accuracy_;--and upon the above principle, it also follows,
that the person who acquires the greatest degree of accuracy and
confidence in working _addition_, must, of course, be most accurate in
all his calculations. The importance of this principle will be much more
prized by and bye than it can be at present;--we shall however shew here
how it may be taken advantage of.

Upon the principle of Individuation, we have seen, that a child will
learn one thing much better and sooner _by itself_, than when it is
mixed up with several others; and therefore we come to the conclusion,
that a child, when taught the practice of addition by itself, till he is
fully master of it, both as respects rapidity and accuracy, has
afterwards little more to do than to get a knowledge of rules. One
month's systematic exercise in _this way_, will do more in forming a
desirable accountant for a desk, than a whole year's exercise otherwise.
In the one case, the pupil starts to the race without preparation, and
with all his natural impediments clinging to him, which he has to
disentangle and throw off one by one during the fatigues and turmoil of
the contest; while the other, on the contrary, delays his start till he
has deliberately searched them out and cast them aside, and thus
prepared himself for the course. He then starts vigorous and light, to
outstrip his labouring and lumbering competitors, not only in this, but
in every after trial of strength and skill of a similar kind.

To follow out this plan with success, the "Arithmetic Rod," containing
three sides, has been provided. On one side there is a single line of
figures, on the second two, and on the third three. These lines of
figures for a school, ought to be painted on three boards sufficiently
large for all to see them distinctly. The first line is to be mastered
perfectly, before the second or the third is to be taught.

The way to begin with the first line, is to make the pupil mentally add
a certain sum to each figure on the board, say two, or seven, or
fourteen, or any other sum, beginning always with a small one. He is
besides to add the carryings also to each figure, and to write down the
sum as he goes on. The beginner may be exercised with the sum of two, or
even one, and have the sum increased, as he acquires a knowledge of the
method. These sums, as the pupils advance, may be extended to any
amount. The Key will shew, in every case, whether the exercise has been
accurately performed; and by marking the time in any particular case,
the teacher can measure exactly, every week or month, the advance of
each pupil.

The mental advantages of this exercise are numerous. Among other things
it trains to a great command of the mind; and brings into exercise an
important principle formerly illustrated, (Part III. ch. xi. p. 288,) by
which the pupil acquires the ability to think one thing, and to do

When the pupil is sufficiently expert at one line of figures, he should
be exercised upon the B side of the rod, containing the double line. He
is to practise adding each pair of the figures at a glance,--till he can
run them over without difficulty, as if they were single figures. He is
then to add a sum to _them_, as he did on the single line, till he can
add the sum and the double figure as readily as he did one. The C side
of the rod is to be treated in the same way;--first by adding all the
three figures at a glance, and naming the sum of each, till he can do it
as readily as if there was but one; and then he is to add any special
sum to them as before.

Note W, p. 321.--Children generally delight in music, and seldom weary
in its exercise. It forms therefore, when judiciously managed, a most
useful exercise in a school for the purposes of relaxation and variety,
and for invigorating their minds after a lengthened engagement in drier
studies. It thus not only becomes desirable to teach music in the
seminary as a branch of education for after life, but for the purposes
of present expediency.

That music may be taught to the young in a manner much more simple than
it has yet generally been done, is now matter of experience. The notes
are only _seven_, and these are each as precise and definite in
proportion to the key note as any letter in the alphabet. There is
obviously no difficulty in teaching a child seven figures,--and there is
in reality as little difficulty in teaching him seven notes; so that,
having the key note, he will, in reading a tune, sound each in its order
when presented to him, as readily and accurately as he would read so
many figures.

To render this exercise more simple to children, and more convenient in
a school, the notes have been represented by figures, 1 being the key
note. The other notes rise in the common gradation from 1 to 8, which is
the key note in alt. By this means, the teacher by writing on the common
black board a few figures, gives the children the tune, which a very
little practice enables them to read as readily as they would the words
to which they adapt it.

For particulars as to time, &c. see "Shorter Catechism Hymn Book," p. 23
and 24.

Note X, p. 264.--There is perhaps no department in the family economy
which ought to be so cautiously filled up as the _nursery maid_; and yet
we generally find, that the duties of this office are frequently handed
over to any thoughtless giddy girl, whose appearance is "shewy,"
although she be without education, without experience, and often without
principle. Why there has been as yet no regular seminary for the
training of young persons of good principles, for the responsible duties
of the nursery, is not a little remarkable. Not one of the many valuable
institutions for particular classes is so much wanted, and which, if
properly conducted, would be a greater blessing to families and to
society generally. One of the most beautiful features in our infant
schools is the circumstance, that they have tended greatly to lessen
this evil, and in some measure to supply the desideratum.

Note Y, p. 268.--The question of rewards and punishments in a public
school is a difficult one; and although there has of late been an
obvious improvement in this respect, we are afraid that the principles
which ought to regulate them are not yet very clearly understood. Hence
the contrariety of sentiments on the subject, with little more than mere
_opinions_ offered to support them. The following few crude thoughts on
the subject, may perhaps lead others better qualified to consider it
more extensively.

We can all readily enough distinguish the difference between _physical_
efforts, _intellectual_ efforts, and _moral_ efforts; but we are very
ready to confound the rewards which, we think, Nature has pointed out
as most appropriate to each. For physical exertions, such as the race,
or the wrestling match, physical returns appear natural and appropriate
enough; and therefore, money, decorations, or other physical honours,
are the ordinary rewards for excelling in any of them. But to desire
money as a return for intellectual excellence, appears to every well
constituted mind as sordid and unseemly. The reward for the exertion of
intellect must partake of intellectual dignity; and hence it is, that
esteem, applause, or admiration,--the incense of the _mind_,--appears to
be the natural return for such exertions. In proof of this, we may
instance the sensible degradation which is felt, when the reward
proffered for mental efforts, even in children, takes the form of food,
or clothing, or money;--and the kind of estimation in which students
hold their medals, books, and other prizes, acquired at their several
seminaries. These are never valued for their intrinsic worth, but only
as permanent signs of _approbation_, or _admiration_,--feelings which
are purely intellectual in their character, and perfectly distinct from
the grossness of physical rewards on the one hand, and the
affections--the moral incense of the _heart_,--on the other.

All this appears pretty evident; and it obviously leads us to the next
and concluding step, which is, that the natural and proper reward for
_moral_ actions, ought to partake of the moral character. It is the love
and affection of those we serve, or who are called on to estimate, or to
decide on the character of our actions,--that is the proper, the
natural, the desirable return. A little consideration, we think, will
shew us, that this, as a general principle, is really correct; and that
applause, admiration, or wonder, when they are afforded without
_affection_, do not satisfy the heart, that in the exercise of love,
seeks love in return.--It is the friendship, the fellowship, the
affections of those whom we aim at pleasing, that alone can approve
itself to our minds as the appropriate returns for moral actions.

Note Z, p. 299.--The following are a few specimens of the paraphrastic
exercise, as employed upon different subjects:--

"But Martha was [_cumbered_] [_about much serving_,] and came to
[_him_,] and said, Lord, [_dost thou not care_] that my sister hath left
me to [_serve_] alone? [_bid_] her, therefore, that she [_help_] me."

This verse is paraphrased in the Help to Luke by substituting the
explanation of the words printed in Italics, and within brackets, for
the words themselves, in the following manner:

"_But Martha was_ [much incommoded and harassed] [to get every thing in
order for the temporal accommodation of Jesus and his disciples,] _and
came to_ [Jesus,] _and said, Lord_, [art thou indifferent or careless
about the circumstance] _that my sister hath left me to_ [prepare the
victuals, and do all the work of the house] _alone_? [Command] _her,
therefore, that she_ [leave her seat at thy feet, and come to assist]

"Every thing [_in nature_] [_shews forth_] God's [_wisdom_,] [_power_,]
and [_goodness_;] but the Bible, which is the [_word of God_,] and which
was [_written_] by [_holy_] men at [_different times_,] under [_his
direction_,] has most [_clearly_] [_revealed_] what [_God is_,] what he
has done and what [_we should do_."]

This is paraphrased in the Key to the Second Initiatory Catechism thus:

"_Every thing_ [that has been made in the world and sky] [gives clear
and constant proof of] _God's_ [chusing the best ends, and accomplishing
these by the best means,] [his being able to do any thing, and every
thing,] _and_ [never ceasing to care for, and to promote the happiness
of all his creatures;]--_but the Bible,--which is the_ [only declaration
of God's mind and will to man,] _and which was_ [composed, and put, with
pen and ink, upon parchment or paper,] _by_ [good and pious] _men, at_
[dates long distant from each other,] _under_ [the care of God, who told
them what they were to write,]--_has most_ [distinctly and plainly,]
[brought into view, and let us know,] _what_ [God's character and
perfections are,] _what he has done, and what_ [is our duty, both to God
and man."]

"The [_word of God_,] which is contained in the [_Scriptures_] of the
Old and New Testament, is the only [_rule_] to [_direct us_] how we may
glorify and enjoy him."

This is paraphrased in the Key to the Shorter Catechism in the following

"_The_ [revelation of God's will,] _which is contained in the_
[writings] _of the Old and New Testament, is the only_ [guide] _to_
[give us information] _how we may glorify and enjoy him_."

Note A a, p. 321.--Nature has obviously intended that all men should be
both physically and mentally employed; and that, for the proper
maintenance of health, the time occupied by _physical_ exercise, ought
in general to exceed that which is employed exclusively in study. The
combination of both in ordinary cases, however, is still more plainly
indicated. In the circumstances of the young, physical exercise is
peculiarly necessary. The writer looks forward with confidence to a
time, when to every seminary of eminence will be attached a sufficient
plot of ground for gardening and agricultural purposes, that the
physical energies of the pupils may not be allowed irregularly to run to
waste, as at present; but when they shall be systematically directed to
interesting, and at the same time to useful purposes. The hand-swing,
although an excellent substitute, will never cope in interest, even to a
child, with the moderate use of the hoe, the rake, or the spade. Such a
system will produce many and valuable advantages to the young.
Gardening, by postponing the results of labour, exciting hope, and by
its daily advances, encouraging to perseverance, will tend to produce a
most beneficial moral effect; and will greatly assist the teacher in
establishing and strengthening some of those valuable checks upon the
volatility of the young mind, which are exceedingly necessary for the
proper conduct of life, but which there is usually but small opportunity
of cultivating in youth.

But even then, for the proper conducting of a school, there will, for
_in-door exercise_, be something more required than has yet been
provided, both as to kind and degree. When we examine a number of
children at play, we seldom find them sitting, or even standing for any
length of time, when they have space and opportunity to exercise their
limbs. The hand-motions of the infant schools, therefore, although
excellent so far as they go, do not go far enough; and even the marching
of the children is obviously too monotonous, and not sufficiently
lively, for throwing off the accumulated mass of animal spirits, which
is so speedily formed in young persons while engaged at their lessons.
It was to supply this defect that the writer, a number of years ago,
made some experiments with a large class of children, and with complete
success. The exercise was founded on the singing and marching of the
infant schools, and consisted in what is known in certain seminaries, as
"Rights and Lefts." The children were taught to meet each other in bands
of equal number, and by giving the right and left hand alternately to
those who came in the opposite direction, they undulated, as it were,
through each others ranks, and passed on to their own music, till they
met again on the other side of the room, and proceeded as before. The
exercise thus afforded to the upper and lower extremities of each child,
the expansion caused to the chest, and the play given to the muscles of
the back and body, are exceedingly beneficial; and the whole being
regulated by their own song, gives healthy, and not excessive exercise
to the lungs and the whole circulation.

It was also found, that this amusing employment for the young, was
capable of great variety. Instead of two bands meeting each other in
_lines_ in opposite directions, and parting, to meet again at the other
side of the room, they were formed into a circle, one-half moving in one
direction, and one-half moving in the opposite, by which means the
circle was never broken. It was also found, that one of these circles,
containing six or eight children only, could move within the other when
it contained a larger number, without those in the one interfering in
the least with those of the other; and the effect became still more
imposing when _between_ these, and _without_ them, two other bands of
children joined hands, united in the song, and moved round in opposite

These details may appear trifling to some; but experience will soon
convince practical men, that in education, as in Nature, the most simple
means often produce the most powerful and the most beneficial results.


    |               Transcriber's Note:                   |
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    | Footnotes listed as a Note followed by a letter are |
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    | Page 169  unnaccountable changed to  unaccountable  |
    | Page 183  recal changed to recall                   |
    | Page 192  missing word "be" supplied                |
    | Page 195  indispensible changed to indispensable    |
    | Page 197  exceeedingly changed to exceedingly       |
    | Page 197  recal changed to recall                   |
    | Page 210  comtemplation changed to contemplation    |
    | Page 211  soffa changed to sofa                     |
    | Page 234  than changed to then                      |
    | Page 245  Terrestial changed to Terrestrial         |
    | Page 277  forwarned changed to forewarned           |
    | Page 280  aplication changed to application         |
    | Page 283  speciment changed to specimen             |
    | Page 302  faultering changed to faltering           |
    | Page 326  Princiciples changed to Principles        |
    | Page 333  desireable changed to desirable           |
    | Page 339  faultering changed to faltering           |
    | Page 340  ungodily changed to ungodly               |

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