Page images


State of Education in France. From tained a pedantic routine and jar

Recollections of Paris, in 1802-3. gon, wholly useless in the high road 4-5. By J. Pinkerton. ' Vol. I. of human affairs. This obstinacy

led, as usual, to their own destrucTHE state of education, in any tion; as they could not bend they

1 country, is of infinite conse- must break : while some colleges, as quence to its prosperity and glory. that of Louis the Great, still exist, It may be doubted whether even the because the professors did not form of government have such de- choose to sacrifice an useful incided influence on the talents and stitution to their own obstinacy or happiness of the individual.

caprice In the Roman Catholic countries As it often happens in human af. of Europe, education had become fairs, that the useful is sacrificed to extremely neglected, before the Je. the splendid, the foundation of unisuits lent their atiention to this de- versities, of very dubious utility, partment. Their method of educa. supplanted that of common schools, tion has been highly praised: and it which may be regarded as the chief is to be supposed that they studied pillars of national education. For, the character of the youth entrusted if we except divinity and medicine, to their care, and, by the spur of a in which regular degrees are bepredominant passion, instigated them stowed, it may be questioned whein the path that was most adapted to ther the education at the French their capacities. It is, however, to universities, were of the smallest ad. be wished, that some patient writer vantage to any other class of man. would, from their own publications kind. As the military schools have on this subject, delineate the com- been found to confer such great ad. plete plan of education practised by vantages, it would seem to follow the Jesuits.

that similar institutions might be Numerous universities were also allotted 10 other professions, after scattered over the kingdom ; but the the bias of the child has been discomode of education there followed, vered, which may generally be done was far from being the best, as, in- about the age of twelve years; before stead of changing their forms, and which period the gymnastic exercises adapting themselves to the progress ought to be the chief part of educaof national illumination, they re- tion, but might be interspersed with


the native language, writing, and to the earlier years of the children arithmetic. To these, in a French of officers killed in battle, or others education, ought to succeed a long deserving the public care, an instito. course of the mathematics, in order tion, by-the-bye, worthy of imita. to allay the volatility and evapora. tion. Such foundations might stil tion of the character.

be styled Prytanées, as maintaining In the parochial, or common those who have deserved well of the schools, might therefore he taught country; while the Lyceums dera horsemanship, swimming, fencing, their name from a famous Qpirers and other gymnastic exercises, and at Athens, amusements, interspersed with the At present ibe primary school French language, writing, and arith- are those which deserve the greatest metic, and followed by the course of attention, and would attract the mathematics, which would be found chief care of an enlightened usefol in every possible profession. vernment; but the masters of them If the conscription must be conti- Lyceums, and other persons connued, it is to be regretted that the sulted on education, unhappily either lots are not drawn at the age of affect a contempt for the primar twelve, that needless care and ex- schools, which can alone diffuse a pence might be saved in the educa general national education, open e tion of ibe boy for another pursuit. bud of the village rose, increase in At the age of twelve, the boys might scent, and destroy its thorns; a be transferred to the Lyceums, or to regard them as rivals who may with the special schools for each profes. draw a part of their gains. Hesor. sion. This separation at the age of in conversations with directors and twelve, would also be attended with professors of the Prytanées and LiCertain beneficial effects, moral and ceums, I have been not a little bun physical, which may easily be die by their apparent spirit of monopoly, vined by parents; the mixture of and their estrangement from the idea little boys with those more advanced of a national education, which mig: being of so pernicious a tendency, as deeply infuence the public character, to require probibition by positive laws. and by opening the mind to modersIn some schools, containing gene. tion and modesty, the usual conceFally boys from the age of seven to mitants of knowlerige, prevent the that of twelve, a great lad of seven, recurrence of scenes of outrage and teen or eighteen arrived from some blood, the fruits of ignorance cos colony for the first rudiments of his ducted by knavery. These efects education, has been known to cor- of rivalry and jealousy, between the rupt the morals and health of thirty Lyceums and primary schools, little boys, who before had not even would also be effectually prevented an idea of vice.

by the division of ages above pro After these considerations the posed. present plan of the Lyceums cannot. There were formerly two Pryta. be approved, as there is a great mix. Deums in France, one at Paris, adoture of ages, while they ought not to ther at St. Cyr, chiefly destined, as he permitted to receive any scholars the name imports, for the children till after the age of 12 years complete. of men who had deserved well of Other foundations might be allotted their country, though they also

boardes boarded and educated other scholars. The course of study is divided into But within these two years the name three distinct parts. Children are has been formally changed for the first caught the French language and common appellation of Lyceums. grammar, a first and indispensable The most important is that at Paris, branch, which is never neglected formerly the college of Louis the during the whole period of instrucGreat. The director Champagne, tion. The Latin tongue is carefully a member of ibe Institute, and a taught by the methods of Condillac man of considerable talents, gave and Dumarsais, which spare the time, me a plan of the education here pur- and sometimes prevent the disgust of sued, with a work written by himself, the scholars. In this first course, on the organization of public in- all are taught the elements of arilh. struction. The importance of the metic. subject will merit a tew extracts and To this course, "merely elemental observations. "

and grammatical, succeeds another, It was under the administration of in which the scholars are taught François de Neufchâteau, that the composition; and instituted in the new name of Prytaneum was adopt. elements of literature, French, La. ed ; and when Chaptal became mic tin, and Greek. nister of the interior, one hundred In the third course, the education and eighty scholarships were granted is completed by that kind of instruc. at the public expence, and soon after tion which is adapted to their talents one hundred others, all to be named and inclinations : rhetoric, philosoby the first consul. It was at the phy, and the mathematics, with same time permitted that other mechanics, surveying, and ibe first cbiliren might share the advantage principles of astronomy and chemisof the caretul education proposed, try, are laid before the students. on paying a moderate salary. This Geography is not only studied, but institution is immediately under the accompanied with the practical art care of the minister of the interior, of drawing maps and plans. In who names the directors and pro. history, the scholars write down the fessors. Mass is celebrated every lessons, so as to form a little collecmorning, but no blame is attached tion of their own composition. In to those who do not atiend: gym. The second and third course all are nastic exercises are also mingled with taught the German and English instructions in the moral duties to- languages; and the study of drawing wards their parents, their country, is alike universal. A fencing master and the Supreme Being ; but each and a dancing master are each scholar is at perfect liberty to follow charged with a class, of twenty-five his own mode of worship.

scholars, chosen for their good Instead of the old pedantic routine, behaviour; but any may be taught simple and practical methods have these arts, and music, at the expence been adopted. Instead of a general of their parents. Gymnastic and tinge of superficial knowledge, the military exercises, and swimming, talents and inclination of the scho- are practised, by all on the days of Jars are carefully observed, and vacation. The instruction is not directed to such studies as they may uniform, a plan rather calculated to pursue with most advaniage. enchain than to develope the facul

ties, but is varied according to the in gymnastic exercises, swimming talents, dispositions, and future and such little exercises in garderviews. A select and ample library ing and agriculture, as they may is open to the scholars.

choose. They are divided, according to Allhough sickness be rare, a pbr. their age and studies into classes sician and surgeon constantly reside of twenty-five; each forming a sepa- in the house; and there is an idir rate habitation, with a school and mary where the sick children 27 sleeping rooms, under the care of an attended with the same care as i experienced teacher, who watches they were in their own families. A: over their manners and conduct, the same time every attention is paid assists their inexperience in literary to the general health. The hall toil, forms their character by remon- and rooms are well aired, a regular strating on their faults and teaching warmth distributed in winter, the them their duties, sees that they food of a salutary nature, and the read no improper books, and that beginning of any disease caretus they write regularly to their friends. marked and opposed. He presides over their repasts, at- Such is the general plan of tb tends when they rise and go to bed, institution, in which tbere is doebiin short, never quits them, except less much to be praised; but in the when be brings them to the profes- division of the courses, it may be sors, adopting every care of a good doubted whether the Latin shouti master and father of a family. A enter into the first course, where careful servant confined to each writing might supply its place; arc class or division, is charged with the in fact, ibis first course ough? physical care of the children, their wholly 10 belong to the primary dress, and personal cleanliness. It schools. Yet, upon the whole, the may not be improper to add, that education is excellent, and the dr they sleep alone, and are carefully tribution of the prizes, which the waiched by the teacher, who is place before the summer vacati placed in the cenire of the division; forms a very interesting and crowdes and that the domestic and a night spectacle. After discourses by the watcher walk througb the sleeping director, and by the minister of the rooms, to guard against the smallest interior, or any other member of 12 accident or impropriety.

administration named to dignify the The games and recreations of the ceremony by bis presence, the children are always superintended by names of the boys who have dista the masters, and their walks in par. guished themselves in each branca ticular are well watched. A regu- are solemnly proclaimed, with the lation approved by the government, rishes of music, and the plaudits: forbids them to leave the bouse upon the audience. The boy advance any pretence, except during the is embraced by the minister, vacations, when they may visit their places on his head a wreatb families. They are, however, indem. laurel, and gives him some values nified by the extent of their own book. The catalogue of the vicina domains, even those at Paris passing and prizes is afterwards published, the summer days of vacation at the to the great sati faction of parents large house and park of Vanvres, and friends.

Let me not be accused of being. After this first equipment, no furtedious on a subject of such infinite_ther expence is incurred for the importance as practical education, children, whether sick or in health. the subject of innumerable books, The dress and all the other articles but of difficult execution, as what are renewed at the expence of the seems true and salutary in theory, institution, during the whole course often in practice proves false and of the studies, except losses positively detrimental. Nor shall an apology ascertained to have been made by be offered for some further illustra. the scholars themselves. For books, tions of this interesting topic, and maps, and paper, used in the third which though sometimes minute, may course, there is an additional charge be of lasting consequence to ihe of twenty-five franks, or a guinea a community.

year. The trunk, except the sheets The board at the Prytanée, now and napkins, is returned when the the Lyceum at Paris, is nine hun. scholar leaves the Lyceum ; and as dred francs a-year (not thirty-eight only French manufactures are perpounds sterling), but each boarder mitted, the articles, in case of diffi. must pay quarterly, and by advance, culty, may be easily procured at the Ea.h boarder must bring a trunk, house. containing the following articles; The boys educated at this seminary

A great coat of broad cloth, co. are very numerous, generally appear lour, iron grey—the uniform of the stout and healthy, and possessed school.

with an interesting emulation. The An uniform coat of iron grey, military part of their education is with blue collar and sleeves. rather to be regretted; but it is to

Two waiscoats, &c. of the same. be feared that the ambition of France

Two white waistcoats, one of will render it necessary in other cloth the other of dimity.

countries. Two pair of sheets of ten ells. The work of Champagne, the direcOne dozen napkins.

tor, on Public Education, is valuable, One dozen of shirts.

as the production of a practical man; Two bed-gowns.

but several of his ideas are objecTwelve handkerchiefs.

tionable. That education should be Six cravats of double muslin, and connected with politics seems illutwo of black silk.

sory, it ought rather, like a national Six pair of, cotton stockings, bank, to be independant of the go. of mixed blues, and two white. vernment, and an absolute silence Six cotton night caps.

observed on political subjects. Of Two hats, one three cornered what consequence are the politics of Two pair of shoes.

a boy ? Even a thinking man finds Two combs, and a comb brush. it difficult to choose, when there are A clothes brush.

faults on all sides, and attended A plate and goblet of silver, or with such dismal and unforeseen other metal, at the choice of the pa. consequences. He supposes the rents, and marked with the number primary schools are between six and of the scholar, which is also put on seven thousand, a number certainly his other effects, that no other may too small for the extent of France; use them.

and he justly observes great defects

« PreviousContinue »