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and detailed the measures necessary to be pursued at Stockbridge, to promote these great objects.*
When Mr. Edwards had renoved his family to Stockbridge, he found himself exceedingly embarrassed, from the difficulty of procuring the land, necessary for his own immediate accommodation. When the town was first settled, it was granted to the Housatonmucks, except sir portions, to the late missionary, the school-master, and four other settlers. These portions were now distributed among fourteen proprietors, and could be purchased, only at a very high price. He therefore presented a Petition to the General Court, at their session in October, 1751, asking leave to purchase the necessary lands, for his own accommodation—a homestead in the centre of the town, and a piece of wood-land in the outskirts. The Legislature granted him leave to purchase the homestead, and recommended to the English inhabitants, to provide the necessary wood-land for their minister.
On the tract of land, which he purchased, near the centre of the town, Mr. Edwards, soon after, erected a commodious dwelling, which is still standing.
* I regret that the length of this interesting letter renders its insertion impracticable,
Letter to Sir W. Pepperell.—Letter to Lady Pepperell.—Letter
to his father.—Arrival of Mr. Hawley.- Increasing importance of Indian Establishment.--Schemes of its enemies.-Firm stand taken by Mr. Edwards.Letter to Mr. Oliver.
Letter to Commissioners.—Difficulties of the Mission.—Answer to Mr. Williams.—Letter to the people of Northampton.Marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Burr.-Letter to Mr. Erskine.—Letter to Mr. Hollis.-Letter to Mr. Hubbard.
The Indian establishment at Stockbridge, being gradually more and more known, excited more and more the attention, and interest, of the benevolent in England. Among these, Joshua Paine, Esq., of London, addressed a Letter to Sir William Pepperell
, the Governour of the Province; requesting information, as to the proper plan of a school for Indian girls at that place. An extract from that letter was forwarded to Mr. Edwards from Sir William, through the Secretary of the Commissioners, with a request that he would write to Sir William on the subject. He accordingly addressed to him the following Letter.
“ Stockbridge, Nov. 28, 1751. “ HONOURED SIR,
“When I had the opportunity the last spring of waiting on your Excellency at your seat at Kittery, and was there gratified and honoured by the kind and hospitable entertainment of your house, I was favoured with some conversation with you, concerning the affairs of the Indians at Stockbridge, and the business of the mission here, to which I had then been invited. And you were then pleased generously to assure me of your good offices, in affording me any assistance in this employment, which you could render me, through your acquaintance and correspondence in London.
“I have lately been favoured with a letter from the Hon. Andrew Oliver, of Boston, wherein he was pleased to send me an Extract of a letter to you from Joshua Paine, Esq., of London, concerning a proper plan of a school for Indian girls in this place, and to propose to me to write to you on the subject of the said Extract. This encourages me to hope that a letter from me, on this subject, to your Excellency will be kindly received.
« With this hope, I would take leave to say, that I think that, as
the boarding-sohools here are now in their commencement, and are yet to receive their form and character, and that among a people hitherto unaccustomed to any method of instruction whatever, it is a great pity but that the method actually adopted should be free from the gross defects of the ordinary method of teaching among the English.
“ One of these grand defects, as I humbly conceive, is this, that children are habituated to learning without understanding. In the common method of teaching, so far as my observation extends, children, when they are taught to read, are so much accustomed to reading, without any kind of knowledge of the meaning of what they read, that they continue reading without understanding, even a long time after they are capable of understanding, were it not for an habit of making such and such sounds, on the sight of such and such letters, with a perfect inattentiveness to any meaning. In like manner they are taught their catechism, saying over the words by rote, which they began to say, before they were capable of easily and readily comprehending them. Being long habituated to make sounds without connecting any ideas with them, they so continue, until they come to be capable of well understanding the words, and would perhaps have the ideas, properly signified by the words, naturally excited in their minds on hearing the words, were it not for an habitual hearing and speaking them without any ideas; so that, if the question were put in phraseology somewhat new, to which they have not been accustomed, they would not know what to answer. Thus it happens to children, even with regard to the plainest printed catechisms, even those, which have been contrived with great care and art, so that they might be adapted to the lowest capacities.
“I should therefore think that, in these boarding-schools, the children should never read a lesson, without the master or mistress taking care, that the child be made to attend to, and understand, the meaning of the words and sentences which it reads; at least after the child begins to read without spelling, and perhaps in some degree before. And the child should be taught to understand things, as well as words. After it begins to read in a Psalter, Testament or Bible, not only the words and phrases should be explained, but the things which the lesson treats of should be, in a familiar manner, opened to the child's understanding ; and the master or mistress should enter into conversation with the child about them. Familiar questions should be put to the child, about the subjects of the lesson ; and the child should be encouraged, and drawn on, to speak freely, and in his turn also to ask questions, for the resolution of his own doubts.
“Many advantages would arise from this method. By this means, the child's learning will be rendered pleasant, entertaining and profitable, as his mind will gradually open and expand with knowledge, and his capacity for reasoning be improved. His lesson
will cease to be a dull, wearisome task, without any suitable pleasure or benefit. This will be a rational way of teaching. Assisting the child's reason enables him to see the use, and end, and benefit of reading, at the same time that he takes pains from day to day to read.
It is the way also to accustom the child, from its infancy, to think and reflect, and to beget in it an early taste for knowledge, and a regularly increasing appetite for it.
"So also, with regard to the method of catechizing children ; beside obliging them to give the answers in the printed catechism, or in any stated form of words, questions should be asked them from time to time, in the same familiar manner, as they are asked questions commonly about their ordinary affairs, with familiar instructions, explanations, and rehearsals of things, intermixed; and, if it be possible, the child should be led, by wise and skilful management, into the habit of conversation on divine things, and should gradually be divested of that shyness and backwardness, usually discovered in children, to converse on such topics with their superiors. And when the printed catechisms are used, as I am far from thinking they ought to be entirely neglected, care should be taken, that the child should attend to the meaning of the words, and be able to understand them; to this end, not only explaining the words and sentences, but also from time to time varying the phrascology, putting the question in different words of the same sense, and also intermixing with the questions and answers, whether printed or not, some improvement or application, in counsels and warnings given to them, founded on the answers that have been given.
“Beside the things already mentioned, there are other things, which, as it appears to me, ought to be done, with regard to the education of children in general, wherein the common methods of instruction in New-England, are grossly defective. The teacher, in familiar discourses, might, in a little time, give the children a short general scheme of the Scriptural history, beginning with the creation of the world, and descending through the various periods of that history, informing them of the larger divisions, and more important events of the story, and giving them some idea of their connection one with another ;-first, of the history of the Old Testament, and then of the New. And when the children had in their heads this general scheme, then the teacher might, at certain times, entertain them, in like familiar discourse, with the particular stories of the Scriptures, sometimes with one story, and then with another, before they can obtain the knowledge of them themselves, by reading; for example, at one time the story of the creation, at another time the story of the flood, then the dispersion of the nations, the calling of Abraham, the story of Joseph, the bringing of the children of Israel out of Egypt: And in the New Testainent, the birth of Christ, some of the chief acts of his life, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, the effusion of the Holy Spirit at the day of Pentecost, and some of the chief of the acts of the Apostles; withal, pointing out to them the place which each event has in the general scheme, and the connection it has with other main parts of it. The teacher, in a familiar manner, should apply the events of the story discoursed upon, with the design of informing the child's understanding, influencing his heart, and directing his practice. A child, who is able to read his Bible, might be set to read a particular Scriptural history, sometimes one, and sometimes another, diligently observing it, and examining for himself, all that is said concerning it. And when he has done, he might be called to the master or mistress, and enquired of, concerning the particulars of the history, to see that he has paid attention, and is able to give a good account of it.
“ And I can see no good reason, why children in general, beside the Scriptural history, should not, in a like familiar manner of conversation, be taught something of the great successive changes and events, in the Jewish nation, and the world at large, which connect the history of the Old and New Testaments. Thus, they might be informed, in short, of the manner in which the Four Great Monarchies succeeded each other, the persecutions which the Jews suffered from Antiochus Epiphanes, and the principal changes which happened to their Church and State, before the coming of Christ. And they might be shown, how such and such events were a fulfilment of such and such prophecies. And when they learn the history of the New Testament, they might, with much profit and entertainment, have pointed out to them, many plain prophecies of the Old Testament, which have their fulfilment in him. And I can see no good reason, why children cannot, or may not, be taught something in general of Ecclesiastical History, and be informed how things, with regard to the State of Religion and the Church of God, have gone on, as to some of the main events, from the time when the Scriptural history ended, to the present time; and how given Prophecies of the Scriptures have been fulfilled in some of these events; or why they may not be told, what may yet be expected to come to pass, according to the Scriptural Prophecies, from this time, to the end of the world.
“ It appears to me obvious, also, that, in connection with all this, they should be taught somewhat relating to the chronology of events, which would make the story' so much the more distinct and entertaining. Thus, they may be taught how long it was from the Creation of the world to the Coming of Christ ; how long from the Creacion to the Flood; how long from the Flood to the calling of Abraham, etc.; how long David lived before Christ; how long before the Captivity in Babylon; how long the Captivity, before Christ, etc.; how long since the birth of Christ; how old he was when he began to preach, and when he was crucified; how long