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feeling of secret satisfaction, that I found my unpretending remarks, in your publication for June last, again the subject of comment, though not of approbation. They appear, indeed, so entirely to have contravened the previous notions of some of your correspondents, and so to have outraged the feelings of others, as to have been deemed worthy-not of confutation truly, for that has hitherto been withheld, but, agreeably to the mild mode of expression adopted by your present contributor-of abhorrence. “I must,” says he," for the present be allowed to retain my abhorrence of this motive of action :”-a privilege of which, as it would be somewhat cruel, I have no inclination to deprive him : I must, however, be allowed to question the propriety of its application in this particular instance, and to protest against the peculiarly strong manner in which this sentiment is expressed. I would humbly suggest that, although we are enjoined by the highest authority to “ abhor that which is evil,” it appears no less incumbent on us to ascertain that our detestation is not improperly directed ;-in plain terms, to be quite sure that what we “abhor,” is “evil :” and this brings us to the very point upon which we are at issue. Is a desire to excel others in learning and virtue sinful ?-that is the simple question, when divested of the gratuitous verbiage, and supererogatory quotations in which it has pleased your correspondents to envelop it.
Now to a person of plain understanding, unenlightened by the perusal of your correspondent's lucubrations, such would appear to be a very unprofitable, not to say, an absurd question; or to admit only of a simple negative. To assert, on the other hand, that emulation, by which I understand “a strong and earnest desire,” may not, by the perversity of the human mind or affections, be directed to improper objects, like other strong motives and impulses, and thus degenerate into sin, would be rash indeed; seeing that, as the Apostle reminds us, there are individuals so depraved as to “glory in their shame;" but to suppose that, used as an auxiliary in the practical conduct of education, it is likely to be so abused, is equally contrary to probability, to reason, and to experience. As a scholastic stimulus, it is employed (as I have endeavoured to show in the article so warmly attacked) only to excite the necessary degree of exertion, to arouse indolence, to counteract indifference, and to give a personal and lively interest to what was before “ weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable.”
I must not, however, disguise from your readers the fact that, on the first hasty perusal of the reply in question, I began to hesitate ; to fancy that I might unconsciously have been giving encouragement to objectionable motives ;--in short, to fear that the experience of five and twenty years, devoted to the practical duties of education, aided by the recorded opinions of nearly all who have written on the subject, had misled me. Undismayed, however, by the array of formidable names of Bishop Pearce, of Mant and D'Oyley, but feeling, at the same time, the responsibility of a preceptor, I was induced to reconsider my plans, to refer to authorities, to tax my experience for examples; and what is the result ?-That it appears upon incontestable evidence that, from time immemorial,-- from the age of Socrates and Plato to that of the Apostles, and thence to the present,—that emulation has been resorted
to for the purpose of producing certain specific effects on the youthful mind; that scarcely any individual has become eminent who has not at some period been influenced by a desire to excel; that, if not enjoined, it, at least, is not forbidden by the Christian system of ethics ; that, as a collateral means of securing intellectual exertion, this same principle has been acted upon under every phase of civilized life, in ancient and modern times; that it has been the very fulcrum of improvement under every dispensation ; that the objections to its use are chiefly founded on an isolated expression of Scripture, confessedly of doubtful interpretation : that with this exception, if such it may be called, Holy Writ is silent on the subject, leaving it like many conventional arrangements among men, for their own prudence to regulate in a manner accordant with, and in strict subordination to, the great and general principles of charity and rectitude, which it so authoritatively inculcates; for “no man is crowned except he strive lawfully;" so then we are not forbidden to “strive,” but it must be with a due regard to the just claims of others; finally, that theory and speculation, supported by experience, justify its use, as one of the most powerful, the most uniformly operative, and least objectionable of the means by which education, or a preparation for future usefulness can be achieved.
Having thus (as I trust, satisfactorily) disposed of the objectionable points in the controversy, I would, Sir, with your permission, avail myself of your readers' indulgence, while I direct their attention to a few plain remarks suggested by your correspondent's essay. He, in his laudable eagerness to refute supposed error, appears to think that by quoting the whole passage, which I had only touched, he shall deprive me of my apostolical authority for the employment of the motive in question, as an instrument of education ; and here it would seem that his good intentions must be their own reward, as he will speedily perceive, on a reperusal of his reflections, that according to the old adage,
" Incidit in Scyllam, cupiens vitare Charybdem.” “ All run,” says the Apostle, “but one receiveth the prize." Could I, or any one entertaining similar opinions, desire a more explicit confirmation of them than this? “ All run," doubtless; and this is the desired object in a school. It is not for the sake of him only wbo gains the prize, that prizes were instituted ; but that “all” may “run;" i.e., that all may exert themselves : the benefit is not confined to the successful competitor, but extends its salutary influence to all who “strive for the mastery.” But I must be permitted to observe, in general, with respect to these arbitrary selections of Scripture phrases, that the aim and scope of the whole epistle appear to be far more worthy of deferential regard than the happiest series of sacred words and passages, which, by the exercise of biblical industry and acumen, may be brought to bear, in a prescribed way, on a given subject. Let me here avail myself of the authority of the learned Selden : “In interpreting the Scripture,” says he, “many do as if a man should see one have ten pounds, which he reckoned by one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten; meaning four was but four units, and five, five units, &c., and that he had in all but ten pounds; the other that
sees him takes not the figures together as he doth, but picks here and there, and thereupon reports that he hath five pounds in one bag, and six pounds in another bag, and nine pounds in another bag, &c., when as in truth he hath but ten pounds in all. So we pick out a text here and a text there, to make it serve our turn; whereas, if we take it altogether, and considered what went before, and what followed after, we should find it meant no such thing.*"
Your correspondent proceeds to assure us--doubtless on the strength of reasons and authorities sufficiently convincing to his own mind (although, as they are not adduced, his argument must stand “ quantum valeat”)—that “the whole system of heathen ethics and heathen motives of action, are not only incompatible with, but diametrically opposed to the spirit of the Gospel.” Yet, be it remembered, that St. Paul himself is supposed, in more than one place, to have quoted these same heathen (commonly called classical) writers. It will be sufficient, on this head, to remark that most of our great Christian, ethical, and theological authors, have either strengthened or illustrated their writings from the works of these “unhappy victims of judicial error and sinfulness :" e.g., Mason, in his admirable " Essay on Self-Knowledge;" Lord Bacon, in his “ Moral and Political Essays;" and innumerable others.
As to the Apostle himself (with the utmost reverence be it stated), we know that his great attainments must have been made under the influence of some of the motives which commonly actuate the unregenerate mind-seeing that they were made previously to his conversion ; yet they were not the less available for the purposes assigned him in the dispensations of Divine Providence.
There is, indeed, something so sweeping and comprehensive in your correspondent's censure and wholesale condemnation of names to which unenlightened men have been accustomed to look up with deference for the last two thousand years, that it is difficult to withhold our admiration from his courage, although we may humbly indulge a doubt as to the propriety of its exertion on such occasions, as well as of the general correctness of his conclusions, when he so boldly challenges their authority.
Heartily concurring, however, in his benevolent wish that “the one great motive to obedience and improvement to which in the Scriptures of truth all other motives are made subsidiary, viz., the love of Him who first loved us, were more generally substituted amongst our youth,” I am still of opinion that, in the absence of this constraining impulse, we may lawfully avail ourselves of emulation under the restrictions formerly enumerated as a succedaneum in conducting the mere secular departments of education. Surely it may admit of a question, how far we are justified in relinquishing a means of improvement which some of the wisest and best of the human race have advocated in theory, and sanctioned by their practice; or in quietly resigning the incalculable advantages, in an educational point of view, which it is adapted to confer.
Appreciating most highly the religious motives suggested by your
* Vide “Table Talk; being the discourses of Jno. Selden, Esq., 1689."
correspondent, I cannot but perceive a difficulty in applying them, at an early age especially, to some branches of a liberal education; I am even inclined to think that few of our “youth at school” would discover the connexion between those pure motives, for instance, and the not very pure details of heathen mythology, however indispensable such information doubtless is to the right understanding of the Greek and Latin classics.
Under all these circumstances, I am willing to acknowledge my preference, in practical tuition, for those motives (emulation included) which have beneficially actuated our predecessors; nay, to extend their influence : nor can I help attaching some value to the opinions of such men as Knox and Barrow-schoolmasters as well as clergymen and scholars; for as Butler quaintly remarks
“ When your names are aptly chosen,
Two are as valid as two dozen.”
“ They," says the former, “who have arrived at any very eminent degree of excellence in the practice of an art or profession, have commonly been actuated by a species of enthusiasm in the pursuit of it." Again, in an extract from Milton's Tractate :-“But here the main skill and groundwork will be to temper them with such lectures and explanations upon every opportunity as may lead and draw them in willing obedience, enflamed with a study of learning and the admiration of virtue; stirred up with high hopes of living to be men, and worthy patriots, dear to God, and famous to all ages.” And again—" Infusing into their young minds such an ingenious and noble ardour, as would not fail to make many of them renowned and matchless men.”
The testimony of Dr. Barrow (author of the Bampton Lecture for 1799) is still more express on the point in dispute: “ Another powerful principle,” says he, “ which should be carefully kept alive in the minds of youthful students is ambition or emulation. The schoolboy is not less influenced than mankind in general, by the sentiments of those immediately around him. The contempt or the esteem, the applause or the ridicule of his comrades, are amongst his most efficacious motives of action."
I might here adduce the authority of a much greater philosopher than either of the preceding writers, though less acquainted than they with scholastic details—John Locke! His opinion on the subject is recorded in numerous passages of his Treatise on Education; but I will content myself with the following :-“ Concerning reputation, I shall only remark this one thing more of it, that though it be not the true principle and measure of virtue (for that is the knowledge of a man's duty, and the satisfaction it is to obey his Maker, in following the dictates of that light God has given him, with the hopes of acceptation), yet it is that which comes nearest to it: and being the testimony and applause that other people's reason, as it were by a common consent, gives to virtuous and well-ordered actions, it is the proper guide and encouragement of children, until they grow able to judge for themselves, and to find what is right by their own reason."
Having thus feebly attempted to respond to our writer's demand for
" sounder arguments,” by substituting the opinions of eminent and learned men for my own, as a slight return for his doubtless well-intentioned remonstrance and unsolicited criticism, I trust he will be satisfied; and probably feel convinced that even in writing an article for a magazine, on so simple (?) a subject as education, a little previous knowledge of the matter in hand is not altogether without its use; a circumstance not unfrequently overlooked by contributors to periodical literature.
Finally, if I be still in error, it is some consolation to err in such good company; with Bacon and Milton, with Locke and Johnson ; with the great and good of almost every age and country; who have all attained the eminence which gave them their ascendancy, and with it the envi. able power of doing good to their species, by their indulgence of the motive so unsparingly reprobated by your correspondents. In conclusion, I would observe that it appears to have been more especially the main-spring of British excellence, and of all those glorious attributes which the poet ascribes to us, as a nation :
Hail! English merit! where we find combined,
THOMPSON's LIBERTY. Hoping that it will, by this time, be apparent, that I am far from exalting emulation to “ that bad eminence" which would bring it in contact with the incomparably superior motives which religion supplies ; but claiming for it a prominent place among those subsidiary means which human ingenuity, acting upon the principles of our common nature, has devised, for the furtherance of merely secular objects.
I am, dear Sir, &c., Winchmore Hill Academy.
THOUGHTS FOR SCHOOLMASTERS.—No. III.
“ Be practical, be practical,” say the well-wishers of the Schoolmaster and the Schoolmaster's friends ; but they who are his actual fellow workers, and so know best what, and how weighty his work is, say, “ Be not too practical.'
II. Education is to form MEN, to bring out the lineaments of the image of God in their full proportions in the mind and character of the child; and this work cannot be done by mere practical expertness, such as alone is necessary for breaking in a horse or making a coat.
III. The child has indeed an animal nature, and in certain respects must be trained like the horse or any other animal; firmness, steadiness, perseverance, temperateness, quietness, self-control, exact maintenance of routine and rule, are not less needed in the one trainer than in the other; nor will the one find the results of his training less marked than the other. But the horse is a mere animal, a thing, and when man has made him a perfect living machine, there