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The natural and mechanic history, contained in the Spectacle de la Nature, might also be begun in this class, and continued through the subsequent classes, by other books of the same kind; for, next to the knowledge of duty, this kind of knowledge is certainly the most useful, as well as the most entertaining. The merchant may thereby be enabled better to understand many commodities in trade; the handicraftsman to improve his business, by new instruments, mixtures, and materials; and frequently hints are given for new manufactures, or new methods of improving land, that may be set on foot greatly to the advantage of a country.
THE FOURTH CLASS
To be taught composition. Writing one's own language well is the next necessary accomplishment after good speaking. It is the writing-master's business to take care that the boys make fair characters, and place them straight and even in the lines: but to form their style, and even to take care that the stops and capitals are properly disposed, is the part of the English master. The boys should be put on writing letters to each other on any common occurrences, and on various subjects, imaginary business, &c. containing little stories, accounts of their late reading, what parts of authors please them, and why; letters of congratulation, of compliment, of request, of thanks, of recommendation, of admonition, of consolation, of expostulation, excuse, &c. In these they should be taught to express themselves clearly, concisely, and naturally, without affected words or high-flown phrases. All their letters to pass through the master's hand, who is to point out the faults, advise the corrections, and commend what he finds right. Some of the best letters published in our own language, as Sir William Temple's, those of Pope and his friends, and some others, might be set before the youth as models, their beauties pointed out and explained by the master, the letters themselves transcribed by the scholar.
Dr. Johnson's Ethices Elementa, or First Principles of Morality, may now be read by the scholars, and explained by the master, to lay a solid foundation of virtue and piety in their minds. And as this class continues the reading of history, let them now, at proper hours, receive some farther instruction in chronology, and in that part of geography (from the mathematical master) which is necessary to understand the maps and globes. They should also be acquainted with the modern names of the places they find mentioned in ancient writers. The exercises of good reading, and proper speaking, still continued at suitable times.
To improve the youth in composition, they may now, besides continuing to write letters, begin to write little essays in prose, and sometimes in verse; not to make them poets, but for this reason, that nothing acquaints a lad so speedily with variety of expression as the necessity of finding such words and phrases as will suit the measure, sound, and rhyme of verse, and at the same time well express the sentiment. These essays should all pass under the master's eye, who will point out their faults, and put the writer on correcting them. Where the judgment is not ripe enough for forming new essays, let the sentiments of a Spectator be given, and required to be clothed in the scholar's own words; or the circumstances of some good story, the scholar to find expression. Let them be put sometimes on abridging a paragraph of a diffuse author; sometimes on dilating or amplifying what is wrote more closely. And now let Dr. Johnson's Noetica, or First Principles of Human Knowledge, containing a logic, or art of reasoning, &c. be read by the youth, and the difficulties that may occur to them be explained by the master. The reading of history, and the exercises of good reading and just speaking still continued.
In this class, besides continuing the studies of the preceding in history, rhetoric, logic, moral and natural philosophy, the best English authors may be read and explained; as Tillotson, Milton, Locke, Addison, Pope, Swift, the higher papers in the Spectator and Guardian, the best translations of Homer, Virgil, and Horace, of Telemachus, Travels of Cyrus, &c.
Once a-year let there be public exercises in the hall; the trustees and citizens present. Then let fine gilt books be given as prizes to such boys as distinguish themselves and excel the others in any branch of learning, making three degrees of comparison; giving the best prize to him that performs best, a less valuable one to him that comes up next to the best, and another to the third: commendations, encouragement, and advice to the rest; keeping up their hopes, that by industry they may excel another time. The names of those that obtain the prize to be yearly printed in a list.
The hours of each day are to be divided and disposed in such a manner, as that some classes may be with the writing master, improving their hands; others with the mathematical master, learning arithmetic, accounts, geography, use of the globes, drawing, mechanics, &c.; while the rest are in the English school, under the English master's care.
Thus instructed, youth will come out of this school fitted for learning any business, calling, or profession, except such wherein languages are required: and, though unacquainted with any ancient or foreign tongue, they will be masters of their own, which is of more immediate and general use, and withal will have attained many other valuable accomplishments: the time usually spent in acquiring those languages, often without success, being here employed in laying such a foundation of knowledge and ability as, properly improved, may qualify them to pass through and execute the several offices of civil life, with advantage and reputation to themselves and country.
OBSERVATIONS RELATIVE TO THE INTENTIONS OF THE ORIGINAL FOUNDERS OF THE ACADEMY
In Philadelphia. June, 1789.
As the English school in the academy has been, and still continues to be, a subject of dispute and discussion among the trustees since the restitution of the charter, and it has been proposed that we should have some regard to the original intention of the founders in establishing that school, I beg leave, for your information, to lay before you what I know of that matter originally, and what I find on the minutes relating to it, by which it will appear how far the design of that school has been adhered to or neglected.
Having acquired some little reputation among my fellow-citizens, by projecting the public library in 1732, and obtaining the subscriptions by which it was established; and by proposing and promoting, with success, sundry other schemes of utility, in 1749; I was encouraged to hazard another project, that of a public education for our