« PreviousContinue »
The three following propositions describe the broad and everduring foundation on which the Common School system of Massachusetts reposes:
The successive generations of men, taken collectively, constitute one great Commonwealth.
The property of this Commonwealth is pledged for the education of all its youth up to such a point as will save them from poverty and vice, and prepare them for the adequate performance of their social and civil duties.
The successive holders of this property are trustees, bound to the faithful execution of their trust by the most sacred obligations; because embezzlement and pillage from children and descendants are as criminal as the same offenses when perpet ted against contemporaries.
Recognizing these eternal principles of natural ethics, the Constitution of Massachusetts—the fundamental law of the State—after declaring, (among other things,) in the preamble to the first section of the fifth chapter, that “the encouragement of arts and sciences and all good literature tends to the honor of God, the advantage of the Christian religion, and the great benefit of this and the other United States of America,” proceeds, in the second section of the same chapter, to set forth the duties of all future Legislators and Magistrates, in the following noble and impressive language:
“ Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties; and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people, it shall be the duty of legislators and magistrates, in all future periods of this Commonwealth, to cherish the interests of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them; especially the University of Cambridge, public schools, and grammar schools in the towns; to encourage private societies and public institutions, rewards and immunities, for the promotion of agriculture, arts, sciences, commerce, trades, manufactures, and a natural history of the country; to countenance and inculcate the principles of humanity and general benevolence, public and private charity, industry and frugality, honesty and punctuality in their dealings; sincerity, good humor, and all social affections and generous sentiments among the people."
HORACE Mann. Tenth Report of the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education.
1 THE BOSTON LATIN GRAMMAR SCHOOL.
THE FREE, LATIN, OR LATIN GRAMMAR, SCHOOL of Boston, is one of the few historical schools in this country, its foundation having been laid either in a vote of the “ townsmen” of Boston on the thirteenth day of April, 1635,* “ entreating Mr. Philemon Permont to become schoolmaster for the teaching and nurturing of children," or in the subscription started at a general meeting of the richer inhabitants," on “ the 22d of the sixth month (Aug.) 1636," at which about 501.“ was given toward the maintenance of a free schoolmaster for the youth with us—Mr. Daniel Maud being now also chosen thereunto." In either case the school was in all probability what was then known as a Grammar School. Both Mr. Permont and Mr. Maud were men of education, as their subsequent connection with the ministry indicates, and it is not impossible that there was but one school, which was designated a free or endowed school, and that Mr. Maud was the first teacher, for the records are entirely silent as to Mr. Permont's yielding to the “ entreaties of his fellowtownsmen;" and the early records of New Hampshire testify to his presence and labors as a clergyman in the settlements on the Piscataqua only a few years subsequent to the urgent call beforementioned-an early example of the too common practice of men of the right education to become pastors, giving up the feeding of the lambs, for the less onerous charge of attending the full-grown sheep, whose fleeces probably pay better than the frolicsome and mischievous pranks of the younger portion of the flock.
Whatever may be the date of its establishment, or whoever may have been its first teacher, the first “ Free Schoole,” or
“ Grammar School,” or “ Latin Grammar School,” of Boston, was the lineal descendant of the old Free Schoole or Grammar School, or Latin Grammar Schools in England—the connecting link between the public schools in the original use of the term) of old and New England—the hearth stones of classical learning in both countries.
* This was not the earliest movement in this country towards the establishment of a school-even a free school_Rev. Mr. Copeland having raised by subscription a larger sum than was raised in Boston, to establish a Free School in Charles City, in Virginia, as early as 1621 ; and among the officials of the Dutch West India Company, at Manhattan, in 1633, was Adam Roelaudsen, “ the schoolmaster," and the school which be taught, it is claimed by the Historians of New York, is still in existence in connection with the Dutch Reformed Church.
In 1635, the General Court of Massachusetts granted several tracts of land, together with several Islands in the Bay, to the town of Boston ; and in 1637, a grant of thirty acres of land at Muddy Brook, before assigned by them to Mr. Purment, was confirmed. In 1641, 'It's ordered that Deare Island shall be improved for the maintenance of a Free schoole for the Towne, and such other occasions as the Townsmen for the time being shall thinke meet, the sayd schoole being sufficiently provided for.' Capt. Edward Gibbon was soon after intrusted with the care and use of the island, * until the towne doe let the same.' Accordingly, in 1644, it was let for three years, at the rate of seven pounds per annum, expressly for the use of the school. In 1647, at the expiration of this lease, it was again let for seven years, and the rent was now ‘fourteen pounds per annum for the Scoles's use in provision and clothing.' This lease was extended in 1648 to twenty-one years, at the same rate of rent. The next year, Long Island and Spectacle Island were placed on similar footing, and the Selectmen were to take order that they be leased, paying a yearly rent on every acre, rated afterward at sixpence, for the use of the School.
It was the policy of Boston, as well as of all the towns which established a free school, [in the English sense as we apprehend] to endow the same by lands rented on long leases, by bequests, and donations, after the English manner. Thus in 1649, Wm. Phillips agreed to give 138. 4d per ann. forever to the use of the Schoole for the land that Christopher Stanley gave in his will to the Schoole's use.' Forty shillings per annum for the same use were secured by lease of 500 acres of land at Braintree, and several other sums on different lands belonging to the Town, at about the same date. In 1654, 'It is ordered, that the ten pounds left by legacy to ye schoole of Boston by mis Hudson deceased, shall be lett to Capt. James Olliver for sixteen shillings per ann. so long as hee pleases to improve itt,' &c. Orders were also taken for collecting rents on Deare Island, Long Island, and Spectacle Island due to the use of yo Schoole,' and the renters were required to appear yearly and transact this concern. The first named Island was leased in 1662 to Sir Thos. Temple, knight and · Barronight,' as the scribe of the day quaintly spells it, for 31 years, at £14 per annum, 'to be paid yearly every first day of March to the Towne Treasurer for the use of the free schoole.'
In 1650, the Record adds: “It is alsoe agreed on that Mr. Woodmansey ye schoolmaster shall have fiftye pounds p. an. for his teaching ye schollers and his p'portion to be made up by ratte. This gentleman is further named in 1652 on occasion of a sale of land by the town, with reservation to the inhabitants of a right to “inlarge the skoolehouse;' and it appears that the house in which he lived was the town's property, and situated near the place of his professional employment, with only one lot between, which belonged to the School-house. The rent of this lot was subsequently assigned to him, and by the record of the transaction he is named Robert.
The affairs of the Free School of Boston continued to proceed in their usual train, until 1666, when the town'agreed with Mr. Dannell Hincheman for 40£ per Ann. to assist Mr. Woodmansey in the grammar Schoole and teach childrē to wright, the yeare to begive the 1th of March 86. Soon after this it is recorded that Mr. Jones was sent for by the Selectmen .for keeping a schoole,' and ' required to performe his promise to the Towne in the winter to remove himselfe and familye in the springe, and forbiden to keep schoole any longer. He had, apparently, instructed a private school without leave.
In 1667, Mr. Benjamin Thompson was made choice of by the select men for to officiate in the place of the schoolemaster for one yeare, Mr. Hull being appointed to agree, for tearmes, what to allow him per annū.' Mr. Woodmansey appears to have died about this period; for in December, 1669, it is recorded as follows: «Ordered Mr. Raynsford to give notice to Mrs. Woodmansey that the towne occasions need the use of the schoole house, and to desire her to provide otherwise for her selfe.' A considerate and respectful care of her convenience and comfort, however, was taken by the fathers of the town; for, in less than three months after this warning, upon the request of Mrs. Margaret Woodmansey widdowe-to provide her a house to live in, if she removeth from the schoole house: It was granted to allow her eight pounds per an. for that end, dureinge her widdowhood.'
Ezekiel Cheever, who succeeded Mr. Woodmansey, was born in London, January 25, 1614, and educated at St. Paul's School; commenced his career as a schoolmaster in New Haven in 1638, removed to Ipswich, Mass., in 1650, and to Charlestown in 1661, teaching the Free or Grammar School in each place until Jan. 6th, 1670, when he removed to Boston, when the Governor delivered to him the key and possession of the Free School and the school-house, with an allowance of sixty pounds for his services.
Some light is thrown on the internal economy of the school under Mr. Cheever's charge, of the age at which pupils were admitted, the motives to study and good behavior appealed to, the punishments inflicted, as well as on the importance attached to religious training in the family and the school at that day, in the biographies of several of his pupils who became eminent in after life.
The Autobiography of the Rev. John Barnard, of Marblehead, drawn up by him, in 1766, in the 85th year of his age, at the request of the Rev. Dr. Stiles, of Yale College, and printed for the first time in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society—Third series, Vol. V., p. 177 to 243, contains a sketch of his school experience under Mr. Cheever's tuition, and glimpses of the family and college training of that early day. In the extracts which follow, the chasms are found in the mutilated manuscript, and the words printed in Italics are inserted from conjecture by the Publishing Committee of the Society.
“I was born at Boston, 6th November 1681 ; descended from reputable parents, viz. John and Esther Barnard, remarkable for their piety and benevolence, whó devoted me to the service of God, in the work of the ministry from my very birth ; and accordingly took special care to instruct me themselves in the principles of the Christian religion, and kept me close at school to furnish my young mind with the knowledge of letters. By that time I had a little passed my sixth year, I had left my reading-school, in the latter part of which my mistress made me a sort of usher, appointing me to † teach some children that were older than myself, as well as smaller ones; and in which time I had read my Bible through thrice. My parents thought me to be weakly, because of my thin habit and pale countenance, and therefore sent me into the country, where I spent my seventh summer, and by the change of air and diet and exercise I grew more fleshy and hardy; and that I might not lose my reading, was put to a school-mistress, and returned home in the fall.
In the spring 1689, of my eighth year I was sent to the grammar-school,
* of the author of this autobiography, the Rev. Dr. Chauncey, of Boston, in a letter to Dr. Stiles, dated May 6, 1768, says: “He is now in bis eighty-seventh year. I esteem him one of our greatest men. He is equalled by few in regard either of invention, liveliness of imagina: tion, or strength and clearness in reasoning." On the burning of the Library of Harvard College, in 1764, he presented many books from his own library, and imported others from England to the value of ten pounds sterling; and, in his will, bequeathed two hundred pounds to the same institution. He died January 24, 1770, in the eighty-ninth year of his age. “of his charities," he remarks, in his autobiography, “ I always thought the tenth of my income due to our great Melchisedeck. My private ones are known unto God; but, there is one way of service I venture to tell you of; I have generally kept two boys of poor parents at school, and, by this means, have been instrumental in bringing up, from unlikely families, such as have made good men, and valuable members of the Commonwealth."
t It appears from this statement that this unpamed school-mistress adopted the monitorial system a century and more before Bell, or Lancaster, or their respective adherents convulsed the educational world of England by their claims to its authorship. She applied the principle of mutual instruction which is as old as the human family, and which has been tried to some extent, in all probability, in the instruction and discipline of many schools in every age of the world. Certain it is, that the system, with much of the modern machinery of monitors, was adopted by Trotzendorf, in Germany, in the sixteenth century, and by Paulet in France, many years before these two champions of an economical system of popular edu. cation, by means of one head master, with boys and girls for assistants, in a school of many hundred children, ever set up their model schools in Madras or London