Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

his station. But if Heaven has given to any man talent or enthusiasm, or virtue or piety, let him know that it is all wanted here, and that he can scarcely choose a nobler field for its action. Let a man enter this field, therefore, not to go through the dull round of prescribed duty;--let him throw himself into this sphere of action with his whole mind and heart, with every wakeful energy of thought and kindling fervor of feeling; to think and to act, to devise and to do, all that his powers permit, for the minds that are committed to him ; to develope and exhaust his whole soul in this work; to labor for and with his pupils, to win their affection, to quicken in them the love of knowledge, to inspire, with every noble impulse, the breast of ingenuous youth'; to raise up sound scholars for literature, and devoted pastors for the church, and patriotic citizens for the country, and glorious men for the world ; let him do this; and none shall leave brighter signatures upon the record of honored and well spent lives. Let him do this, and whether he sit in the chair of a university or in the humblest village school, whether as a Stewart and a Cousin, or as an Oberlin and a Pestalozzi, he may fill the land with grateful witnesses of his worth, and cause a generation unborn to rise up and call him blessed.

To the friends of education, as well as to the actual laborers in its cause, let us say, in fine, press onward. The spread of knowledge has given birth to civil liberty ; the increase and improvement of knowledge must give it stability and security. The fortunes of the civilized world are now embarked in this cause. The great deeps are breaking up, and the ark that is to ride out the coming storm must have skill engaged in its construction, and wisdom to preside at its helm. The warfare of opinion is already begun; and for its safe direction, knowledge must take the leading-staff. In this war, not the mighty captain, but the schoolmaster is to marshal the hosts to battle. It is he, that is to train the minds which are to engage in this contest. It is he, that is to train up orators and legislators, statesmen and rulers : and he, too, is to form the body politic of the world. Would the free spirits of the world look to the defence and hope of their cause ? It is no dubious question, where they must look. Their outposts are free schools; their citadels are universities; their munitions are books; and the mighty engine, that is to hurl destruction upon the legions of darkness, is the FREE PRESS. Other ages have struggled with other weapons ; but the panoply of this age must be know

ledge: the gleaming of its armor must be the light that flashes from the eye of free high-minded public opinion. Call this complimenting, call it complaisance to the base multitude, call it visionary speculation, call it what you will ; but the doctrine is true: and, over the liberties of the world, whether prostrate or triumphant, that truth must rise brighter and brighter forever.

Art. IV.–Degerando's Visiter of the Poor.

The Visiter of the Poor; translated from the French of the Baron Degerando, by a Lady of Boston ; with an Introduction, by Joseph TUCKERMAN. Boston. 1832.

Degerando says, in the 208th page of this translation, There is nothing good which we may not expect from the generosity of this age, and the enthusiasm which is peculiar to it. On no subject can this generosity and enthusiasm be applied more profitably, or more honorably, than in efforts to improve the condition of the poor; and to prevent the causes of pauperism. The efforts of past times have been directed to the relief, not to the prevention of misery. The duties, which are beginning to be felt and to be performed, are to know causes; and knowing these, to apply means to the far better purpose of banishing, than of relieving.

Degerando writes of pauperism as it is seen in great cities in Europe. All his remarks are not applicable to this country, He writes, too, with an amiable enthusiasm, which does his heart the highest credit. Whether he can inspire equal enthusiasm in his readers, may be questionable ; but one cannot read his book without feeling respect for him, nor without wishing to be as good and charitable as he seems to be.

The author of this work is said in the Encyclopædia Americana) to be a native of the city of Lyons, born in 1770; to have been much in favor with Napoleon ; to have held important state offices under him ; to have been, also, much in favor after the restoration; to have written the best work which the French possess on the History of Philosophy. His last work is that by which he is most known in this country, translated and presented to the public by the title of Self Education, or the Means and Art of Moral Progress.'

The volume now to be noticed is said, by the translator, not to comprise several parts of the original, which were thought to be inapplicable to this country. It may be inferred from the introduction (written by the Reverend Dr. Tuckerman), that some latitude has been taken in the manner of translating, to make the volume more useful to American readers. The introduction was intended to give effect to the thoughts of Degerando ; in which purpose the writer appears to us to have been entirely successful. His experience among the poor qualifies him, eminently, to speak of their wants, and of the duties of other classes to them.

We cannot, on this occasion, enter into a discussion of the causes of pauperism, nor of the means of prevention and relief. This is a most comprehensive subject; and one of peculiar interest in this country. Americans ought, while they can, to attempt the mastery of this difficult matter, embracing, as it does, political and moral considerations of the greatest importance. There is yet a wide difference between the pauperism of the new, and that of the old world. The latter arises from inequalities of condition, founded in long-enduring political and moral causes, which are unknown here. There are here many, and there will be more causes of pauperism, than there need to be; though some there must be, under the most favorable circumstances. The causes of inequality are necessarily fewer here than in Europe.

The right of ruling brings no riches in its exercise ; military glory secures no wealth; the church has no benefices; a favored individual of a family does not inherit all, to preserve the family name and dignity. Here wealth is acquired by talent and industry, and sometimes by unexpected good turns. It is lost with great facility, and in a few years, by successive descents, it is scattered and dissipated. Here poverty is less depraved and odious, than in Europe. It is seldom hopeless, despairing, desolate. The poorest man's son may hope to be something. But till every one is free from vice, ignorance, and misfortune ; or until the whole community make common stock like the shaking quakers; or until the care of the whole community is assumed by the Government, and all the citizens are merely agents for the community, as happened in Sparta, there will be poverty, suffering, calls for charity, and duties to perform. The motives to the care of the poor are twofold.

1. Interest. 2. Duty; which, in fact, is only another name for interest.

The rich and the poor are connected by numerous ties. This is not apparent in single cases, but is so when many cases are taken together. Whether the whole number of the poor are moral, and sufficiently informed to know in what their best interests lie, is a touching inquiry to the wealthy; and equally so to the poor, to know, whether the wealthy understand and provide for their necessary relation to them. As the resources of the poor are easily exhausted; as the calamity of long-continued winter, or prevailing sickness, soon brings them to craving want, the good of the whole demands provision against suffering, violence, and crime.

But, besides these calls, there are duties of humanity from which the well informed and considerate cannot, and would not, excuse themselves. Nor would they lose the pleasure of affording relief in cases of distress. The exemplary devotion to the poor, which Degerando proposes, is not called for in our country, as in some of the cities of Europe; yet even in our cities and great towns, there is abundant room for the exercise of charity.

But we are wandering from the prescribed purpose, which is no more than to make a brief examination of this little volume, leaving it to the good sense of the reader to apply the general character of the work, by his own knowledge of the wants of society, and by his own perception of duty in ministering to these wants.

And first, of the introduction we have to remark, that until the generosity' and enthusiasm,' on which Degerando relies, shall become more common than they now are, it will be the safest course for all who would benefit the poor, to employ such agents as Dr. Tuckerman. If they have not the taste nor inclination to visit the poor themselves, they may have the assurance that their bounties will be well applied by such agents as he is. This, however, is severe labor for one, or even for many. Degerando means to show that such labors should be common to many.

The first chapter is entitled, “Aim and Character of Charity.

He divides society into three classes: those who have the superfluities of life ; those whose resources are nearly balanced by those necessities which stimulate to labor; those whose

part of it. Hed to be the erhbat alms-g

pressing wants cannot be entirely satisfied by their own industry.

The first and third classes he connects together, and attempts to show, throughout his work, that while the latter may be relieved and made better, the former may be gratified and improved. Though this philanthropist may be thought to be somewhat in advance of his age, and even fanciful, yet all who can appreciate him will agree, that alms-giving, which is by many considered to be the whole of charity, is but a small part of it. He says, it even contradicts, and sometimes destroys the intended effect of charity.'

The second chapter is entitled, “Characteristics of real Indigence.'

This comprises the fruits of long experience. He discriminates among the contrivances and frauds which are sometimes practised, and the real claims to charitable relief. He discloses a knowledge which might be put to profitable use among us, and which few, but professional ministers, have used to much extent. Every part of this chapter is abundant in rules, which those, who would copy Degerando in his benevolent labors, may study with advantage.

The Classification of the Poor' is the title of the third chapter.

Herein he supposes, that the visiter of the poor has exactly ascertained existing wants; their nature and extent;—and considers the great secret of charity to be the art of proportioning it to the necessities of poverty. The whole chapter is devoted to rules and illustrations, which must have been drawn from actual observation of the miseries which may be found in such a city as Paris. Happily, all of them may not apply among us. But whoever intends to become a "visiter' will find this chapter full of instruction.

The fourth chapter, on the Virtues of the Poor,' is, perhaps, the most interesting in the book. He properly gives little credit to the affluent, and the easy, for their virtues. He shows how beautiful and admirable virtue is in those who are overwhelmed by reverses of fortune, by the disdain of the rich; exiled from society ; banished, as if to a desert, in the midst of cities; every thing hostile ; and when the very affections of nature become the source of keenest suffering. We cannot forbear to extract something from this chapter, in honor of human nature under most distressing visitations.

« ZurückWeiter »