Imagens da página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

It has been said for duelling, as it has been said for prize-fighting, and as it might be said, with equal force, for every other violation of good order, that if you close up this vent for the angry passions of mankind, another will soon be forced open, and that instead of duels you will have assassinations. To refute this supposition an appeal may be confidently made to actual experience. The two great nations of antiquity were unacquainted with this boasted institution, yet their history furnishes no ground whatever for supposing that they were addicted to the practice of private assassination. The duellist, however, will object to these examples as inadmissible for the purpose; for the Greeks and Romans, he will say, were such coarse and vulgar fellows, so insensible to the point of honour, that they suffered themselves to be called rogue, thief, and liar, without ever showing, or even feeling the resentment which becomes a gentleman, but we must not thence infer, that in these more enlightened and refined times, when honour is dearer than life, and must not be sullied even by the breath of suspicion, that the higher orders of society will consent to forego the privilege of mutual slaughter in some shape or other. To such a reasoner we hesitate not to reply, that if these ferocious and vindictive passions which can only be slaked in human blood, which can only be restrained from using the knife of the assassin, by being indulged with the pistol of the duellist, if these passions, we say, are to be considered as the characteristics of an enlightened and refined state of society, it becomes the duty of every friend to morality and good order to pray for the return of darkness and barbarism.

There is not, however, any necessity to refer to the history of remote times in order to prove this point, for there is actually existing before our eyes a body of men to whose irascible passions the safety valve of the duel has never been applied, who yet have never been accused of a propensity to assassination; and as this body of men is distinguished from the rest of the upper classes, rather by a greater than by a less degree of politeness, it furnishes at the same time a practical proof of the proposition which we have already demonstrated in another way, namely, the proposition that duelling tends rather to retard than to advance the refinement of manners. The body we speak of is, of course, the clergy of England as they now exist: whatever faults may have been laid to their charge, certainly neither a predilection for murder, nor a want of exterior propriety, is among the number. Now how does this happen? What possible reason can be assigned, why a churchman should not give vent to angry and contemptuous feelings, by angry and contemptuous gestures and expressions, as frequently as a layman; a man in holy orders is still a man, he does not change his nature with the colour of his coat; nor is there any ground for supposing that young gentlemen are moved to become candidates for ordination, because they feel that the acrid and caustic ingredients of human nature are wanting in their idiosyncracy: on the con

trary it will not be disputed that people go into the church, as into any other profession, because they suppose that they have a fair prospect of advancing their fortunes in that direction. To us the reason is manifest. If a priest indulge in abusive epithets, or otherwise conduct himself offensively, he gains nothing but the momentary gratification of passion, with the certainty of a most severe retribution. Whereas a layman in the same circumstances not only assuages his wrath, but acquires moreover the reputation of a certain reckless gallantry, which varnishes over and conceals from observation and from censure, the insolence and brutality of his conduct. It is of no avail to say, that society requires a more strict observation of decorum in the ministers of religion than in the rest of the community; for the question is not how much society requires, but how it can enforce what it does require. And if, when the effect of its censures is not impeded by the duel, it can enforce the greater degree of propriety, it seems no strained inference to conclude, that if the same advantage was afforded by the universal suppression of duelling, it would be able to enforce, by the same means, that less degree of propriety which is expected from the rest of the upper classes.

These are the reasons which have appeared to us conclusive of the question, so conclusive indeed, so much stronger than the imbecility of the subject seems to demand, that we have several times doubted, in the course of the discussion, whether we were not wasting efforts which ought rather to be directed against more plausible errors. But it is to be remembered, that however poorly the custom we are attacking may be fortified with reasons, it is fenced round on every side with a triple row of prejudices. And this must be our excuse to our readers (for we feel that some excuse may be expected) for having crushed with the force of argument a system, which when exposed to the light, crumbles into dust by the spontaneous operation of its own rottenness.

[Westminster Review'.

SELECTED FOR THE MUSEUM.

Outlines of Philosophical Education, illustrated by the Method

of teaching the Logic Class in the University of Glasgow; together with Observations on the Expediency of extending the Practical System to other Academical Establishments, and on the propriety of making certain Additions to the Course of Philosophical Education in Universities. Ву George Jardine, A.M.F.R.S. E., Professor of Logic and Rhetoric in that University. 1 vol. Second edition, enlarged. Glas, gow. 1825.

As the first edition of this book was published before the commencement of our labours, we have assumed the privilege of examining the second. It is the production of an experienced teacher, as well as of a sensible and conscientious man; and contains much valuable matter, in the nature of remarks on the present mode of teaching in our universities, with suggestions towards a reform. We would gladly have analyzed it for the benefit of our readers, but as it is not a long work, while it is written in a plain sensible manner, and in an agreeable style, we shall rather recommend it to their own perusal. We have another reason for not dwelling upon it at present; and it is, that we are desirous to take up a position in the general question of education, which Professor Jardine has passed over. There are defects in our system, still more radical than those which he has pointed out; and we shall, perhaps, perform our duty better in filling up the blank which he has left. Hereafter, we shall take frequent opportunities of pursuing the same subject from the point at which we shall here terminate; and shall not then be ashamed to profit from remarks so entirely coincident with the views which we have long entertained.

We have, indeed, already offered some remarks on Education in our first number, but we are so far from having exhausted this important subject, that we consider ourselves as having merely commenced it; and shall therefore continue, from time to time, to propose what has occurred to us on the fashions of our country in this respect, and on their possible improvement. If we cannot always say what has not been said before on questions so often canvassed, that will not prevent us from saying what we think useful and right. The greater mass of the public has, as usual, shown the most determined inveteracy not to listen to advice that will give them the trouble of thinking, the trouble of quitting a beaten routine to enter on a new line of action, and the vast effort of doubt. ing the wisdom of their ancestors. It must be our business to sound that advice in their ears till they do listen, since “For this were we ordained.” To say

that a light has broken on the human mind within these last thirty years, to say that it has spread with a rapidity and an effect hitherto unexampled in the history of man, is but to say what all the world knows and feels. This is the effect of education; it is education itself. Yet it is an education attained, produced, without the machinery of education, in spite of the imperfect machinery which we have received from our ancestors. From the same ancestors we received the distaff, the horse-mill, and the coracle. Those we have converted into the cotton-engine, the steam-engine, and the three-decker. By the exertions of our mechanical skill, by arraugement, order, division, we have multiplied our wealth, our resources, our comforts, our power, and our rank in the world, to a degree which no mind could have anticipated. If it has been the proud destiny of Britain to curb the ty. ranny of the few over the many, to raise the brute people to the rank of man, to be, in spite of all her faults, the eye of the world; it is to the machinery of its industry and its wealth that we must look for all these benefits and blessings. We have despised our ancestors, and we have proved their wisdom folly. And, as we have despised them, we have risen and flourished.

Yet our improvements on their machinery have been nearly limited to the machinery of wealth; to the inanimate world; to length, and breadth, and depth, and weight. We have forgotten mind in our pursuits of matter. We have discovered that the soil will yield a tenfold produce by the exertions of our mechanical skill; that value a thousand fold can be added, by our dexterity and industry, to the most worthless of nature's productions. But we have scarcely discovered that parallel exertions of industry and attention may be applied to the cultivation of the rude, metaphysical soil of the mind of man. Or, if we have speculated on our powers, if even we have occasionally and partially exerted them, we have wanted courage to disclaim the worn-out machinery of our ancestors, and to invent, and apply, for ourselves, to mind, as we have long done to matter, new powers, new combinations, and new proceedings.

Had Britain, Europe, persisted in the agriculture, the manufactures, the economics of the days of Alfred, we need not ask where we should now have been. It is because the West has dared to think and act for herself, that it is not now as the East, stationary. Yet there was a time when the East did think for itself. If Europe also had ceased to think and to reform, from the time of Mahomet, if Britain had shown the same antipathy to reform in all, as it has so obstinately done in some things, it would now have been speaking Welsh, and burrowing in the ground; the enviable seat of tyranny, slavery and starvation; or possibly marching, under the influence of insanity and a red rag, to war against Palestine and pestilence.

But we have invented steam-engines and parliaments; and, what is more, we persist in attempting to improve both. Yet we neglect that fundamental engine, that very machine of all machines with which we must work out these results. We forget that, in all this, man himself is the first mover; and while we labour to reform and to improve his actions, and to profit by his action, we neglect his principles of action, and forget to cultivate or create those powers, of which we would still reap the effects.

Practically, we state the case too strongly; looking at the system, not one jot. As far as in us lies, the education of man, of that class, at least, which was once the only man, is what it was in the days of Alfred. If we have not suffered more from our monkisk obstinacy, it is partly because that division of society is not now the only man, and partly because education now no longer depends on systems, but falls imperceptibly around us as the showers of heaven. Monachism can no longer exclude what it does not give. The age is educated, in spite of a pernicious system.

Or, be it not pernicious, it is useless; at least it is purposeless. If it be but purposeless, it has still the evil result of occupying vaVol. VII, No. 40.-Museum.

2 T

luable time, of consuming valuable means to no end. And if it does all this to no useful end, it is injurious, inasmuch as it impedes the application of what would be useful. Life and money, labour and industry, are expended in what is unproductive. They might, be expended in productive acquisition. The machinery of education, of the education to which we here especially allude, is antiquated and bad, and its produce is nothing, or worse than nothing. We should laugh at the man who should now propose to till his farm as the farms of the Anglo-Saxons were tilled; to keep oaks for the purpose of feeding hous; or convents for fattening monks. Yet we maintain, with all our vigour of argument, and example, and anger, the system which cultivates the rough desert of man's mind as it was cultivated when man was a tyrant or a slave, when he was ignorant of arts and sciences, comfortless, powerless and debased; which makes monks when there are no longer conyents. Could the philosopher of the Dog-star now visit us, would he believe that the engine of education, that the education itself of this enlightened people, consisted of two lost languages, and that the first twenty years of the short space of human life were occupied in attempting to acquire them; not in the acquisition, but rather, we should say, in labouring to avoid acquiring them; and that the first effort of freedom, after this life of slavery and punishment was, to forget and renounce all that had been learned. The day is coming when posterity will wonder, like the philosopher.

If Education means any thing, in the sense in which we here take it, it is the process by which the mind of man, possessed of powers, but unfurnished with ideas, is stored with knowledge, and enabled to apply this to the business of human life. To ascertain what is the business of human life, is, therefore, a fundamental preliminary. It is one, however, which we need not here state; as, at every stage of society, and in our own very decidedly, it is understood by the enlightened community. Yet it has been our leading mistake to forget or lose sight of it. The age of Alfred was a wiser age; for the business of life, such as it was apprehended, was the object of education, such as that also was. The age has changed; the business of life is no longer what it was; but the education remains.

We know that there is much education in this country, some professed, but more accidental, which does not consist of Greek and Latin. But all the world knows, that the apparent intention of acquiring those two languages, on the one hand, with apparent efforts to instil them on the other, are the leading features of our system. It is thus that the class, in particular, on which rests the great business of thinking, is supposed to be prepared for the varied and complicated duties which its individuals are to perform. To those languages are devoted that long and important period, through which the mind (as well as the body) is to be trained to action; on this is money as well as time expended; and thus educated-or

« AnteriorContinuar »