페이지 이미지

enterprising, let him go abroad with perfect freedom, in his early boy hood, and amuse himself by the hour together, on the ice, and in the snow drists. Instead of keeping him shut up all day, and graduating his sleeping room by Fahrenheit, let him face the keen edge of the north wind, when the mercury is below cypher, and instead of minding a little shivering when he returns, applaud his resoJution, and encourage him to sally out again. In this way, you will teach him that he was not born to live in the nursery, nor to brood over the kitchen fire; but to range abroad as free as the air, and to gain warmth from exercise. I love and admire the youth, who turns not back from the howling wintry blast, nor withers under the blaze of summer :—who never magnifies 'mole-hills into mountains,' but whose daring eye, scales the eagle's airy crag, and who is ready to undertake anything that is lawful, within the range of possibility.

Who would think of planting the mountain oak in a green-house, or-of rearing the cedar of Lebanon in a lady's flower pot? Who does not know that in order to attain their mighty strength and majestic forms, they must freely enjoy the rain and the sunshine, and feel the rocking of the tempest? Who would think of raising up a band of Indian warriors, upon cakes and jellies and beds of down, and amid all the luxuries and ease of wealth and carefulness? The attempt would be highly preposterous, not to say supremely ridiculous. It is the plain and scanty fare of these sons of the forest, their hard and cold lodging, their long marches and fastings, and their constant exposure to all the hardships of the wilderness, which give them such Herculean limbs and stature ; such prodigious might in the deadly fray, and such swiftness of foot in pursuing the vanquished.



I am far, however, from saying, that such training, would ensure to every child the arm of Achilles, or the courage of Logan, or the constitution and daring of Martin Luther. Some would doubtless sink under the discipline ; but not near so many, as is generally supposed. The truth is, there is a mistaken tenderness which daily interferes with the health-giving economy heaven. Too many parents, instead of building upon the foundation which God has laid, first subvert that foundarion by misplaced indulgences, and then vainly attempt to build among the ruins. They so cross and perplex nature, in her efforts to make their children strong and healthy, that she at length refuses to do anything, and the doating parents are left to patch up the shattered and puny constitution as well as they can, with tonics and es

In this way, not a few young men of good talents, are rendered physically incapable of pursuing their studies to any advantage. They can never bear the fatigue of close and long continued application. The mind would gladly work, but the earthly tabernacle is so extreinely frail, that every vigorous effort shakes it to the foundation. It is like setting up the machinery of an iron works, in a mere shed, without studs or braces-or like attempting to raise the steam for a large ship, in a tin boiler. Whatever talents a youth may possess, he can accomplish but little, without a good constitution to sustaiu his mental efforts ; and such a constitution is not a blessing to be enjoyed of course.

Like almost every other gift of heaven, it is to be obtained by human providence, and in the use of means adapted to the end. How many who begin well, ultimately fail of eminence and usefulness, through excessive tenderness, and for want of skill and care in their early physical education, it

is impossible to say ; but that many a young man is doomed to lingering imbecility, or to a premature grave by this kind of mismanagement, and that the subject on which I have hazarded the foregoing remarks, is intimately connected with the vital interests of the church, and the state, will not, I think, be questioned.

One thing inore I deem it important to say, before I dismiss the present topic. The finest constitution, the growth of many years, may be ruined in a few months. However good the health of the student may be when he enters college, it requires much care and pains to preserve it; and there is a very common mistake as to the real cause why so many fail. Hard study has all the credit of undermining many a constitution, which would have sustained twice as much application, and without injury too, by early rising and walking, and by keeping up a daily acquaintance with the saw and the axe. Frail, then, as are the elements which compose this mortal frame, so essential are its healthful energies to the operations of mind, that so long as the body and soul remain united, too much care can hardly be bestowed upon the former for the sake of the latter.

The second great branch of education is intellectual ; and this, it must be confessed, is vastly more important and difficult than the first. It is the intelligent and immortal mind, which pre-eminently distinguishes man from the countless forms of animated nature around him. It is this, which not only gives him dominion over them all, but raises him to an alliance with angels, and, through grace, to communion with God hi If. Mysterious emanation of the Divinity! Who can measure its capacity, or set bounds to its progression in knowledge ?

But this intelligent and immortal principle, which we

call mind, is not created in full strength and maturity. As the body passes slowly through infancy and childhood, so does the mind. Feeble at first, it 'grows with the growth and strengthens with the strength of the corporeal system. Destitute alike of knowledge at their birth, the children of one family, or generation, have, in this respect, no advantage over those of another. All have every thing to learn. No child was ever born a Newton, or an Edwards. It is patient, vigorous, and long continued application that makes the great mind. All must begin with the simplest elements of knowledge, and advance from step to step in nearly the same manner. Native talent in a child, may be compared to the small capital with which a young merchant begins in trade. It is not his fortune, but only the means of making it. Or it may be likened to a quarry of fine marble, or to a mine of the precious metals. The former never starts up spontaneously into Cyprian Venuses, nor does the latter, of its own accord, assume the shape and value of a shining currency. Much time and labor and skill are requisite to fashion the graceful statue, and to refine and stamp the yellow treasure.

In every system of education, two things should be kept steadily in view :--first, that the mind is to be gradually expanded and strengthened into vigorous manhood, by the proper exercise of its faculties; and secondly, that it is to be enriched and embellished with various knowledge. In practice, however, these two things cannot be separated. For, at the same time that the plastic hand of education is strengthening and enlarging the mind, by subjecting it to severe and sometimes painful discipline, this very exercise is continually enriching it with new and important ideas. Thus, to illustrate the

point by a plain similitude, we do not, when we begin with the child, find the intellectual teniple already built and waiting only to be furnished; but we have io lay the foundation, carry up the walls, and fashion the porticoes and arches, while we are carving the ornaments, and bringing in all that is requisite to finish the edifice and furnish the apartments. That, then, must obviously be the best system of mental education, which does most to develope and invigorate the intellectual powers, and which pours into the mind the richest streams of science and literature. The object of teaching should never be, to excuse the student from thinking and reasoning, but to learn him how to think and to reason. You can never make your son or your pupil a scholar, by drawing his diagrams, measuring his angles, finding out his equations, and translating his Majora. No. He must do the work himself. It is his own application that gives him power and distinction. It is climbing the bill of science by dint of effort and perseverance, and not being carried up on other men's shoulders.

Let every youth, therefore, early settle it in his mind, that if he would ever rise in the world, he has to make himself,--or in other words, to rise by personal application. Let him always try his own strength, and try it effectually, before he is allowed to call upon Hercules. Put him first upon his own invention; send him back again and again to the resources of bis own mind, and make him feel that there is nothing too hard for industry and perseverance to accomplish. In his early and timid Aights, let him know that stronger pinions are near and ready to sustain him, but only in case of absolute necessity. When in the rugged paths of science, difficulties which he cannot surmount impede bis progress, let

« 이전계속 »