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Influence of physical conditions on nations. 357
control nature, you find often a resolute self-reliant people, proud of their strength and encouraged to use it; but in regions subject to frequent earthquakes and convulsions, where the aspects of nature are formidable, and its phenomena on too vast a scale to be subject to human control, you will often find a timorous superstitious people, without enterprise or any of that cheerful hope which animates to intrepid discoveries and great inventions.
I must not stay now to pursue this line of enquiry. Those of you who would like to see how fertile such researches are, will do well to read the second chapter of Buckle, on the influence exercised by physical laws over the organization of society and the character of individuals,' and in that chapter you will find, amidst much which is crude and speculative, and a few unverified and hasty generalizations, many valuable truths and suggestive hints. In Mr Grove's excellent little book on Geography you will find similar material. But I want you to feel that physical geography is the basis of all true geographical teaching; that here, as in other subjects, it is not only the details which are value, but also the tie that binds them together, and that all mere topography—all political administration and commercial geography must ultimately connect itself with a right understanding of such matters as soil, climate, shape, size, geology, and natural resources. An acquaintance with geology is especially helpful in making physical geography understood. A teacher who is skilled in this subject, and can make a right use of the comparison between a geological map and an ordinary map of the same country, will give new meaning to his lessons; will be able to say, eg., how the presence of chalk or sandstone may be recognized by the contour of the hills.
Another kind of tie by which mere geographical facts inay be bound together is the historical. Associate therefore, as often as possible, the description of places with the memory of events which have happened in them. “The man,” says Johnson, “is little to be envied whose patriotism would not gain force on the plains of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona.” Association between the configuration of a region, and a great event that has happened in it, is a great help to the recollection both of history and geography too. Nobody can read Livy's account of Hannibal's passage over the Alps, Macaulay's siege of Londonderry, Mr Carlyle's account of Frederick the Great's campaign in Silesia, or of Cromwell's battle at Dunbar, without seeing a new meaning in geographical study. And if in the neighbourhood of your school, there is any spot or building rendered illustrious by its association with historical events, seek as far as you can to explain that association, and give interest to it.
As to maps, the use of which is so obvious that they need no recommendation from me, I have only four observations to make: (1) That they are of more value after your descriptive lesson has been given than before; (2) That pupils should not always draw the whole maps as given in the books, but parts of them—say the south coast of England, or the county of Yorkshire—just so much of the map as is necessary to illustrate or fix the particular lesson you have given, such a map being often on a larger scale than that in the atlas ; (3) That a physical map, one which merely represents the course of water, the position of coal, the prevalence of pasture land, or some one special fact, is often valuable; and (4) That it is never well to permit colouring or ornamentation of any kind until the outline has been carefully examined and found to be correct.
Verbal description of Phenomena,
Further, the skilled teacher of geography ought to Power of cultivate in himself the power of vivid and pictures- verbal de
scription. que verbal descriptions of the aspect and contour of any country he has seen. You can only acquire this power by caring about such details. It is well known that Arnold's lessons to his Sixth Form on history, when he was reading Livy or the Anabasis, were wonderfully vivified by his striking descriptions of the country in which the events took place. When he travelled, he kept his eyes always open, and it is remarkable how often in his letters to old pupils, who had gone to some distant country, he wrote to them hinting at the kind of things which an observant man would do well to look for, and asking for the result of such observation for his own information and enjoyment. Here is part of such a letter written to Mr Gell, who had gone to reside in Tasmania : “I hope you journalize largely. Every tree, plant, stone, and living thing is strange to us in Europe, and capable of affording interest. describe to me the general aspect of the country round Hobart Town? To this day I never could meet with a description of the common face of the country about New York or Boston, or Philadelphia, and therefore I have no distinct ideas of it. Is your country plain or undulating, your valleys deep or shallow, curving, or with steep sides and flat bottoms ? Are your fields large or small, parted by hedges or stone walls, with single trees about them or patches of wood here and there? Are there many scattered houses, and what are they built of-brick, wood, or stone? And what are the hills and streams like-ridges or with waving summits,—with plain sides or indented with combs, full of springs or dry, and what is their geology? I can better fancy the actors when I have a notion of the scene on which they are acting.”
Illustra- If you want to know how life-like the description tions of descriptive
of a country can be made, read the description in geography. Scott's Antiquary of the sea in a storm, the account of
the Western Hebrides in Johnson's Journey, or Black's Princess of Thule, Mr Bryce's account of his ascent of Mount Ararat, or some of the passages from Hooker's Himalayan Journals, from Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers, or Wills's Wanderings in the High Alps. In this department of teaching it is pre-eminently needful that the teacher should keep his mind open to the events which are going on around him, and try to utilize the information which newspapers and new books of travel and adventure will furnish. His own experience will also help him to give vividness to his lessons. After a foreign journey he will invite his class to have a lesson on the Rhine, on the aspect of the mediæval towns of Belgium or North Italy, on an Alpine ascent, on the English Cathedrals, or the English Lakes. Photographs and pictures from illustrated journals will all help to give reality to the impressions you want to convey.
Do not complain of all this as desultory and unscientific. Remember that this is the one subject in whic you are least bound to preserve any predetermined order, and in which miscellaneous lessons, provided they are vivid and interesting, are quite legitimate, and serve the intended purpose well. That purpose is to increase the scholars' interest in the world in which they live, to awaken their observant faculties, and to help them to recognize the order, the wealth and beauty of the visible universe. If you do not do this, Geography is a very barren subject, even though your scholar knows with impartial exactness the populations, and the latitude and longitude of all the capital cities in the two hemispheres, and the names and lengths of all the rivers in the world. But if you do this,
you may be well content with almost any portion of the subject which is thoroughly mastered. For he who has been led even by accident, or the course of your special experience, to examine one or two countries, to get a mental picture of their physical characteristics, and to see how those characteristics affect the situation of the towns, the nature of the products, and of the trade, the employments, the government, and even the idiosyncracies and the history of the inhabitants, will have in his mind a typical example of the way in which geography ought to be studied, and will-as the reading and experience of after life cause him to be interested one by one in other countries—know better how to obtain his information and to make a right use of it.
Although all these considerations point to the necessity of oral lessons, I am far from saying that you should be content with the somewhat vague and miscellaneous impressions which such teaching, if relied upon alone, is apt to leave. Text-books, catalogues, tables, statistical statements, and memory-work have their value, and must be resorted to by all who wish to give definiteness to such lessons. But the time to use them is after the oral teaching, not before it or instead of it.
Geography is a good type of that class of subject Fact-lore. which has its chief value as information useful in itself, and which has comparatively few ramifications into other regions of acquirement or of intellectual life. There is a large mass of serviceable knowledge which does not come within the ordinary range of school subjects, and which yet a school might help to impart-knowledge about the substances we see and handle, about the objects around us, about the things which are going on in the world. We must not, in our zeal for those parts of