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which is attractive and useful to the learner. There is generally an advantage to be gained by combining two opposite systems, if both are useful; and Smith has successfully done this. Our author says, “The great merit of Colburn's books is, that they form good habits of mind.” True ; but are not expertness and facility in using the slate also important ? Changes from one currency into another, and calculations in foreign currencies, can certainly be done with more exactness and expedition on paper than in the head, even allowing it possible to be done in the head alone ; while the habit of rapid figuring is best acquired in childhood.
Next comes a chapter on Reading, Composition, Declamation, and Ethics. There are some judicious remarks in it on the vast importance of good reading, and the small degree of attention which it generally receives; and on the numerous and flagrant violations of the rules of our language, even among our best speakers. With the author's sentiments on the subject of composition, we cannot entirely agree. Though the importance which he attaches to the formation of an elegant style, is, perhaps, not too great, yet he seems to us to overlook some of the most efficient means of attaining it, in dwelling upon, and enforcing others. He says, “I should recommend, that the exercise of writing composition, should be delayed till the pupil has had time to read, and to hear read, a number of works by standard authors; that he may. thus, by habit, acquire some notion of sentences, different from those he has heard at Church.” And yet, he says, and very justly too, “ The formation of a style commences very early, generally before children begin to write.” Certainly; it is formed from the conversation and manner of those about them, and from the peculiar cast of their own minds, and the forms into which their thoughts naturally bring themselves. Is it not then a mistake to suppose that a child's style is formed from hearing sermons ?" It is to be feared, that there are few children who pay so much attention to the discourses they hear from the pulpit, as to retain a very vivid, or very strong impression of their subjects, much less of the style in which they are written. We consider the advice of our author as to the “ delay" in this exercise, quite as erroneous as that, which should recommend a child not to be taught to dance till he has had an opportunity of seeing fine dancing. Meanwhile, the elastic
spring and pliability of muscles, which will best enable him to become a graceful dancer, are daily losing something of
So with the infant mind. Early habit, in the art of composition, does more than in most other mental acquirements; and while the child is following our author's judicious advice, relative to his taking notes of all he hears from the instructive lips of his teacher, he is, in effect, forming and improving his style gradually, and in proportion to the progress of his mind in the attainment of ideas. Education, aiding habit and nature, will, in our opinion, form the only perfect style ; for we cannot think with our author, that it “is an art," exactly as painting and sculpture are arts, because it comes from a mental process; pure style is, or ought to be, only the corrected expression of the feeling ; it is the clothing of the sentiment, not the sentiment itself.
With regard to the study of Philosophy, treated in the same chapter, his remarks, though somewhat cursory, are beautiful. They express, in a few words, all that pious parents would desire a teacher to feel on the subject. We know no book which will fill the void of which he complains ; but think a series of selections, from various gifted authors, well chosen and arranged, might answer the purpose.
In afterwards speaking of music, as one of the desirable accomplishments (in addition to gymnastic exercises, drawing, &c.), he has a passage, which we cannot forbear quota ing.
"To the literary man, especially one who is to lead a more retired sort of life, music is a source of endless comfort. Above all to the teacher, whose life is almost identified with the name of patience, this divine art comes like a consoling spirit, to soothe his ruffled nerves, and give rest to his weary thoughts. Next to sleep it refreshes and invigorates; and a parent who places his child in a situation to acquire this art, bequeathes to him a blessing, which death alone can deprive him of. In the midst of busy life, in the land of strangers, where it is the only language he understands, in the hour of sorrow, even in the delirium fit, and the horrors of the mad-house, music never abandons him who has once welcomed her to his soul."
The tenth, and last chapter, though on more general sub
jects, is, perhaps, the most interesting in this valuable little book. The author observes, in commencing it,
“It will readily be seen, that in order to finish to advantage the course of education * I have now sketched, two things are necessary; first, that the scholars continue with the same instructer; and second, that the instructer shall not abandon his occupation, until he has at least carried one set through the whole course." —p. 107.
Again, “So long as the business of school-keeping is made only a step to a profession, a necessary evil, to be thrown off as soon as possible, we cannot expect to have permanent teachers; young and inexperienced persons will succeed to those who have but begun to know the duties of teachers, — and thus children are handed over from one to another, the unfortunate subjects of many men's experiments in teaching." - p. 109.
These, with the remarks immediately following, will, we hope, place in a new light the profession of a teacher, not at present understood, and far from sufficiently estimated. To all that is said relating to the conduct and discipline of the school-room," we would direct the particular attention of teachers. He thus. concludes.
“I would have the school-room as much like home as the case will admit; the same manner of addressing the children ; the same manner of punishing, when it is necessary; the same freedom from restraint, if possible. I would, as far as practicable, have children preserve, in the school-room, the same set of feelings that they have in the drawing-room at home. In short, the best rule for the discipline of a school, may be summed
up in these words, mutual affection and interest between the instructer and the pupil. And to establish this, depends in a great measure, upon parents. I close my remarks, therefore, with the beautiful prayer of Juvenal;
'Umbris tenuem et sine pondere terram,
[For the Christian Examiner.]
By the term Divine Influence, as it is used in this Essay, we would be understood to mean the agency of God, or, if the terms are preferred, the Spirit of God, or the holy Spirit, operating upon the minds of men, by which they are illumined, disciplined, and improved; all that support which God affords in temptation, trial, and sorrow; in a word, all that spiritual aid, which He imparts to man, for the moral and religious advancement of his character here in this world, and by which he is prepared for a higher state of being in the world which is to be revealed.
The subject is one of transcendent interest. It involves inquiries like these ; whether, in our conscious weakness, we may look for aid to One who is mighty and willing to help; whether, amidst perplexing circumstances and conflicting claims, we may seek direction from an unerring Guide, and an almighty Friend; whether, when our spirits are sinking within us under the burdens of our lot, we may refresh them at the Fountain of all life and consolation n; whether, when they are stricken with a sense of guilt and fear, we may yet seek a Comforter who will lead us to God's mercy-seat ; whether, in fine, when they are bewildered and lost in their own dark and wayward imaginings, we may look to One who is "greater than our hearts,” and who will dispel our darkness by His own ineffable light.
It is obvious, however, that the subject is one, which, from its very nature, is peculiarly liable to misapprehension and abuse. That mystical spirit, which always, in a greater or less degree, pervades imaginative and enthusiastic minds; and which, in a world of sense, imperfection, and sin, leads them to seek an unearthly abstraction from present objects, and an impossible approach to God, will easily find in the Christian doctrine of Divine Influence, the elements of a perverse nurture and unhealthy growth. Such has always been the fact. This spirit, which was by no means unknown to the Oriental and Grecian philosophy, early identified itself with the eminently spiritual religion of Christ, and produced, as it was influenced by various circumstances, * almost every species of extravagance and fanaticism. The various sects of the Gnostics, from the first to the third or fourth century, partook largely of it. It drove the Anchorites, Ascetics, and Monks of what are commonly called the dark ages, to desert the incumbent duties of life, that they might bury themselves in useless and unhallowed retirements, and to torment themselves with various uncommanded austerities. In these retreats it survived the shock which the religious world received at the period of the Reformation. It discovered itself in almost all the different sects into which Christendom was afterwards divided. It found favor, in the same degree, amongst the Jansenists and Quietists of France, with the Pietists of Germany, and with the Methodists, Moravians, and Quakers of England and America. It pervaded minds which seem to have had little else in common. It mingled equally in the noisy and vulgar fanaticism of Peter Boehme, and in the wrapt abstraction, and deadness to the outward world and to all earthly desires, which Father Molinos preached, and Fenelon delighted to advocate. It was the animating principle of the pure and active, but somewhat overstrained and impracticable piety of men like Spener, and the learned recluses of the Society of the Port Royal; and was the very inspiration of the extravagant fancies and rapturous daydreams of Madame Guyon, and of Elizabeth Rowe. But these are the least melancholy of the perversions of the doctrine of Divine Influence, since, from the nature of the case, they can never become permanent or widely spread. They are too much at war with man as he is, and with man as he is placed in this world, ever to gain a general acceptance. And they must be confined, moreover, mainly to persons of a peculiar temperament and habits of mind; to the susceptible, the visionary, the melancholic, the imaginative, and to those who are disqualified equally by inclination and by their prevailing tone of thought and sentiment,
to hold with fortune needful strife." It is such as these, who, feeling strongly the “divinity that stirs within ,
and the unsatisfactoriness of human pursuits, and sick of a formal
* These are popularly set forth in the 8th and 9th sections of the “Natural History of Enthusiasm.” “ Sketch of the Enthusiasm of the Ancient Church.” “Ingredients of the Ancient Monachism."