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Precep. But suppose a reverse of fortune should overtake you, what is to become of the child ; as you say she understands nothing of domestic affairs ? Will it be more honorable, do you imagine, for her to be maintained by the charity of the people, than by her own industry ?
Par. There are many ways for her to be supported. I would not have you think she is wholly ignorant of the use of the needle, though she never employed it in so disgraceful a manner as that of darning stockings ! or botching tattered garments ! But we will wave that subject, and attend to the other. Will you receive the boy for the purposes before mentioned ?
Precep. Why, indeed, sir, I cannot. Though I am far from condemning altogether your favorite branches, yet I consider them all as subordinate, and some of them at least, totally useless. We devote but a small portion of our time to the attainment of such superficial accomplishments. I would therefore advise you, to commit him to the care of those persons, who have been so successful in the instruction of his sister.
Par. I confess I am so far convinced of the propriety of your method, that, if you will admit him into your academy, I will renounce all right of dictating to you his lessons of instruction, except in one single instance; and in that I am persuaded we shall not disagree; I mean the art of-speaking.
Precep. I shall agree to that only under certain limitations. That is an art which undoubtedly demands our solicitous attention; but it ought never to be pursued to the injury of other studies. I am sensible that it is no less useful to a pupil than entertaining to an audience, to exercise him occasionally on the stage in declaiming judicious and well written compositions, and pronouncing such selected dialogues, as will tend to give gracefulness to his attitude, and familiarity to his tones and gestures. But what can be more
disgusting than to see females, whose chief excellence con. sists in their modesty and silence before superiors, encouraged to reverse the order of nature by playing the orator on a public stage !
Par. Then it seems you do not approve of females speaking at all.
Precep. Not on a public occasion out of the school-room, and before a promiscuous audience, unless I wished to see them divested of half their charms. Such masculine employments as ill become them, as the labors of the field, or the habits of the stronger sex. I would have them, however, thoroughly educated in all the different branches of the solid sciences and polite literature, as well as in the fine arts ; but nature never designed them for public speakers.
Par. Why, you differ widely from many, whose pride it is to be considered as the standards of modern taste. But you have made me so far a convert to your sentiments on this subject, and given me such proofs of your superior judgment in the education of youth, that I am determined to commit my son, without any reserve, to your care and instruction. Till you hear from me again, I am, sir, your obedient servant.
[Didactic. - See Rule 2, p. 163.) 1. The importance of classical learning to professional education, is so obvious, that the surprise is, that it could ever have become matter of disputation. I speak not of its power in refining the taste, in disciplining the judgment, in invigorating the understanding, or in warming the heart with elevated sentiments; but of its power of direct, positive, necessary instruction.
2. There is not a single nation from the north to the south of Europe, from the bleak shores of the Baltic to the bright plains of immortal Italy, whose literature is not embedded in the very elements of classical learning. The literature of England is, in an emphatic sense, the production of her scholars ; of men who have cultivated letters in her universities, and colleges, and grammar-schools; of men who thought any life too short, chiefly because it left some relic of antiquity unmastered, and any other fame too humble, because it faded in the presence of Roman and Grecian genius.
3. He who studies English literature without the lights of classical learning, loses half the charms of its sentiments and style, of its force and feelings, of its delicate touches, of its delightful allusions, of its illustrative associations. Who that reads the poetry of Gray, * does not feel that it is the refinement of classical taste which gives such inexpressible vividness and transparency to his diction? Who that reads the concentrated sense and melodious versification of Dryo den † and Pope, does not perceive in them the disciples of the old school, whose genius was inflamed by the heroic verse, the terse satire, and the playful wit of antiquits? Who that meditates over the strains of Milton, does not feel that he drank deep at
“Siloa's brook, that flowed
Fast by the oracle of God," that the fires of his magnificent mind were lighted by coals from ancient altars?
4. It is no exaggeration to declare, that he who proposes to abolish classical studies, proposes to render, in a great measure, inert and unedifying, the mass of English literature
* Gray, (Thomas,) was born in London in 1716, and died in 177). He wrote some beautiful poems.
+ Cry den and Pope, see notes on p. 198 and 100.
for three centuries; to rob us of the glory of the past, and much of the instruction of future ages; to blind us to excellencies which few may hope to equal, and none to surpass; to annihilate associations which are interwoven with our best sentiments, and give to distant times and countries a presence and reality, as if they were in fact his own.
THE BIBLE.- - GRIMKE. (Didactic. — The pupil may point out the cases of contrast in this piece, and tell how they should be read. See Rule 5, p. 94.)
1. The Bible is the only book which God has ever sent, and the only one he ever will send into the world. All other books are frail and transient as time, since they are only the registers of time; but the Bible is as durable as eternity, for its pages contain the records of eternity. All other books are weak and imperfect, like their author, man ; but the Bible is a transcript of infinite power and perfection. Every other volume is limited in its usefulness and influence; but the Bible came forth conquering and to conquer,
– rejoicing as a giant to run his course, - and like the sun, “there is nothing hid from the heat thereof." The Bible only, of all the myriads of books the world has seen, is equally important and interesting to all mankind. Its tidings, whether of peace or of woe, are the same to the poor, the ignorant, and the weak, as to the rich, the wise, and the powerful.
2. Among the most remarkable of its attributes, is justice; for it looks with impartial eyes on kings and on slaves, on the hero and the soldier, on philosophers and peasants, on the eloquent and the dumb. From all, it exacts the same obedience to its commandments: to the good, it promises the
fruits of his labors ; to the evil, the reward of his hands. Nor are the purity and holiness, the wisdom, benevolence, and truth of the Scriptures, less conspicuous, than their justice. In sublimity and beauty, in the descriptive and pathetic, in dignity and simplicity of narrative, in power and comprehensiveness, in depth and variety of thought, in purity and elevation of sentiment, the most enthusiastic admirers of the heathen classics, have conceded their inferiority to the Scriptures.
3. The Bible, indeed, is the only universal classic, the classic of all mankind, of every age and country, of time and eternity; more humble and simple than the primér of a child, more grand and magnificent than the epic and the oration, the ode and the drama, when genius, with his chariot of fire, and his horses of fire, ascends in whirlwind into the heaven of his own invention. It is the best classic the world has ever seen, the noblest that has ever honored and dignified the language of mortals!
4. If you boast that the Aristotles, and the Platos, and the Tullies, * of the classic age, “ dipped their pens in intellect,” the sacred authors dipped theirs in inspiration. If those were the “ secretaries of nature," these were the secretaries of the very Author of nature. If Greece and Rome have gathered into their cabinet of curiosities, the pearls of heathen poetry and eloquence, the diamonds of pagan history and philosophy, God himself has treasured up in the Scriptures, the poetry and eloquence, the philosophy and history of sacred lawgivers, of prophets and apostles, of saints, erangelists, and martyrs. In vain may you seek for the pure and simple light of universal truth in the Augustan † ages of antiquity. In the Bible only, is the poet's wish fulfilled,
** And like the sun be all one boundless eye."
• Aristotle, Plato, and Tully. See notes on pp. 67, 182, and 27. + Au-gus tan age, a period of the highest excellence in Roman literature.