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THE FORCE OF EDUCATION.
I a human soul without education like
marble in the quarry, which shews none of its inherent beauties, until the skill of the polisher fetches: out the colours, makes the surface shine, and discovers every ornamental cloud, spot, and vein, that runs through the body of it, Education, after the same manner, when it works upon a noble mind, draws out to view every latent virtue and perfection, which without such helps are never able to make their ap pearance.
If my reader will give me leave to change the allu sion so soon upon him, I shall make use of the same instance to illustrate the force of education, which Aristotle has brought to explain his doctrine of substantial forms, when he tells us that a statue lies hid in a block of marble; and that the art of the statuary only clears away the superfluous matter, and removes the rubbish. The figure is in the stone, the sculptor only finds it. What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul. The philosopher, the saint, or the hero, the wise, the good, or the great man, very often lie hid and concealed in a plebeian, which a proper education might have dis-interred, and have brought to light. I am therefore much delighted with reading the accounts of savage nations, and with contemplating those virtues which are wild and uncultivated; to see courage exerting itself in fierceness, resolution in obstinacy, wisdom in cunning, patience in sullenness and despair.
Men's passions operate variously, and appear in different kinds of actions, according as they are more or less rectified and swayed by reason. When one hears
of negroes, who upon the death of their masters, or upon changing their service, hang themselves upon the next tree, as it frequently happens in our American plantations, who can forbear admiring their fidelity, tho' it expresses itself in so dreadful a manner? What might not that savage greatness of soul which appears in these poor wretches on many occasions, be raised to, were it rightly cultivated? And what colour of excuse can there be for the contempt with which we treat this part of our species ? That we should not put them upon the common foot of humanity, that we should only set an insignificant fine upon the man who murders them; nay, that we should, as much as in us lies, cut them off from the prospects of happiness in another world as well as in this, and deny them that which we look upon as the proper means for attaining it?
Since I am engaged on this subject, I cannot forbear mentioning a story which I have lately heard, and which is so well attested, that I have no manner of reason to suspect the truth of it. I may call it a kind of wild tragedy that passed about twelve years ago at St. Christopher's, one of our British leeward islands. The negroes who were the persons concerned in it, were all of them the slaves of a gentleman who is now in England.
This gentleman among his negroes had a young woman, who was looked upon as a most extraordinary beauty by those of her own complexion. He had at the same time two young fellows who were likewise negroes and slaves, remarkable for the comeliness of their persons, and for the friendship which they bore to one another. It unfortunately happened that both of them fell in love with the female negroe abovementioned, who would have been very glad to have taken either of them for her husband, provided they could agree between themselves which should be the inan. But they were both so passionately in love with
her, that neither of them could think of giving her up to his rival; and at the same time were so true to one another, that neither of them would think of gaining her without his friend's consent. The torments of these two lovers were the discourse of the family to which they belonged, who could not forbear observing the strange complication of passions which perplexed the hearts of the poor negroes, that often dropped expressions of the uneasiness they underwent, and how' impossible it was for either of them ever to be happy.
After a long struggle between love and friendship, truth and jealousy, they one day took a walk together into a wood, carrying their mistress along with them: where, after abundance of lamentations, they stabbed her to the heart, of which she immediately died. A slave who was at his work not far from the place where this astonishing piece of cruelty was committed, hearing the shrieks of the dying person, ran to see what was the occasion of them. He there discovered the woman lying dead upon the ground, with the two negroes on each side of her, kissing the dead corpse, weeping over it, and beating their breasts in the utmost agonies of grief and despair. He immediately ran to the English family with the news of what he had seen; who upon coming to the place saw the woman dead, and the two negroes expiring by her with wounds they had given themselves.
We see in this amazing instance of barbarity, what strange disorders are bred in the minds of those men whose passions are not regulated by virtue, and disciplined by reason. Though the action which I have recited is in itself full of guilt and horror, it proceeded from a temper of mind which might have produced very noble fruits, had it been informed and guided by a suitable education.
It is therefore an unspeakable blessing to be born in those parts of the world where wisdom and knowledge flourish though it must be confessed, there are, even
in these parts, several poor uninstructed persons, who are but little above the inhabitants of those nations of which I have been here speaking; as those who have had the advantage of a more liberal education, rise above one another by different degrees of perfection. For to return to our statue in the block of marble, we see it sometimes only begun to be chipped, sometimes rough-hewn, and but just sketched into a human figure; sometimes we see the man appearing distinctly in all his limbs and features, sometimes we find the figure wrought up to a great elegancy, but seldom meet with any to which the hand of a Phidias or Praxiteles could not give several nice touches and finishings.
Discourses of morality, and reflections upon human nature, are the best means we can make use of to improve our minds, and gain a true knowledge of ourselves, and consequently to recover our souls out of the vice, ignorance, and prejudice, which naturally cleave to them. I have all along profest myself in this paper a promoter of these great ends; and I flatter myself that I do from day to day contribute something to the polishing of men's minds: at least my design is Jaudable, whatever the execution may be.
SIR BERTRAND.—A FRAGMENT.
IR Bertrand turned his steed towards the wolds, hoping to cross those dreary moors before the curfew. But, ere he had proceeded half his journey, he was bewildered by the different tracks; and not being able, as far as the eye could reach, to espy any object but the brown heath surrounding him, he was at length quite uncertain which way he should direct his
course. Night overtook him in this situation. It was one of those nights when the moon gives a faint glimmering of light through the thick black clouds of a lowering sky. Now and then she suddenly emerged in full splendour from her veil; and then instantly retired behind it, having just served to give the forlorn Sir Bertrand a wide-extended prospect over the desolate waste. Hope and native courage a while urged him to push forwards; but, at length, the increasing darkness, and fatigue of body and mind, overcame him : he dreaded moving from the ground he stood on, "for fear of unknown pits and bogs; and, alighting from his horse in despair, he threw himself on the ground.
He had not long continued in that posture, when the sullen toll of a distant bell struck his ears-he started up; and turning towards the sound, discerned a dim twinkling light. Instantly he seized his horse's bridle, and with cautious steps advanced towards it. After a painful march, he was stopped by a moated ditch surrounding the place from whence the light proceeded; and, by a momentary glimpse of moonlight, he had a full view of a large antique mansion, with turrets at the corners, and an ample porch in the centre. The injuries of time were strongly marked on every thing about it-The roof in various places was fallen in, the battlements were half demolished, and the windows broken and dismantled. A draw-bridge, with a ruinous gateway at each end, led to the court before the building.
He entered; and instantly the light, which proceeded from a window in one of the turrets, glided along, and vanished: at the same moment the moon sunk beneath a black cloud, and the night was darker than ever -All was silent.-Sir Bertrand fastened his steed under a shed; and, approaching the house, traversed its whole front, with light and slow footsteps.-All was still as death!-He looked in at the lower windows, but could not distinguish a single object through the