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tary De Beveren, who had gone with the revolution. . . . When called to leave his post, after discharging its duties for nearly a year, he retired uncontaminated, carrying with him, if not the favor of the opposite party, at least their esteem. He had executed many important commissions, having for their object the internal welfare of city and province, and had also interested himself in behalf of the Middelburg school system. He moreover contributed much to a weekly, bearing the name of The Friend of the People,' designed to direct public sentiment.
In the beginning of the year 1796, a second effort was made to call him to Lingen, as preacher and professor in place of the late Hajo Mensonides; but, probably mindful of the advice of Schultens, he declined this proposal. Soon after he was called to fill the professorial chair of Schultens, made vacant by the suspension of Professor Rau, and declined by Professor Muntinghe. In reply to the curators, he writes :
From the time that I first applied myself to these branches of learning, I have felt that nothing would be more agreeable than to devote to them my whole time and attention, and nothing have I regarded as more desirable than to be engaged in imparting the knowledge of them to others; yet I have never allowed myself to cherish the hope of ever occupying, in this department, so honorable a position, nor have I as yet been so situated as to enable me to regulate all my studies with reference to such an object.
The office he assumed in June with a discourse De Litteris Hebraicis exornandis.' Two years later he was invested with the rectorate of the university, and resigned it, February 8th, 1799, in the usual manner, with an oration ‘De Mohammede Religionis Islamiticæ et Imperii Saracenici Conditore' (Mahomet, the Founder of the Islam Religion and the Saracen Empire). By this discourse, he produced in the auditory of the university a general sensation, both by the choiceness of his language and the extraordinary impressiveness of his delivery. Most striking was his eloquence when he employed it to set forth the eloquence of Mahomet, and on that occasion related the anecdote of Omar, who, having girded on his sword to bathe it in Mahomet's blood, finally fell at his feet, acknowledging him as Allah's great prophet.
SERVICE TO NATIONAL EDUCATION. The executive government of the Batavian republic appointed, under the title of Agents, eight men, who distributed among themselves the various branches of internal administration. They were what are now called the ministers of the different departments, yet amenable only to the executive government. Among these agencies there was one of National Education, and to its administration were brought all matters pertaining to instruction, sciences, and arts, and in general whatever could exert any influence on the morals of the people. To this office Van der Palm was called, in April, 1799, amid great applause of many correct thinkers in the land; and he accepted that important post, on condition of being permitted at any time to resume the professorship, which he reluctantly sacrificed to it. To this the curators of the university graciously consented, most highly extolling the happy choice which the executive gov. ernment had made in selecting Professor van der Palm, from whose eminent abilities and universally known qualifications for the promotion of learning and the advancement of arts and sciences, as also for training the national spirit to the practice of the noblest virtues, the Batavian nation had already been led to entertain the highest expectations.' He retired accordingly to the Hague, but came, till the long vacation, on certain days of the week, to give lectures in Leyden, in order to complete the work undertaken with his students for that term.
It was in this high relation that Van der Palm was a second time to manifest his very extraordinary ability to reconnoitre, as with a single glance of his eye, the ground on which he was placed; to assume, by a single turn, the bearing which befitted him, and by a moment's reflection to comprehend all the means which could be rendered available. The dexterity with which he could manage affairs the most dissimilar, and which had excited the admiration of his political friends in Zealand, was here to appear on a more extensive scale. It was also quickly perceived at the Hague that the accomplished Orientalist, theologian, and orator had been born a statesman; and this was apparent not only from the manner in which he managed affairs, presided at meetings, granted audiences, spoke, or kept silence, but from his entire bearing and demeanor. Without losing any thing of his habitual amiableness and that agreeable negligence on which he always set so 'high a value, he was always and every where, even with respect to his most confidential friends, whilst he spoke or acted in his official capacity, entirely the minister, irresistibly maintaining his distance, though one knew not by what means. In a moment he was master of the entire vocabulary of the various branches of his administration, and understood all the requirements of a ministerial bureau. He secured
a in an eminent degree the affection of all his colleagues. His zeal was as great as his ability, and it was his sincere endeavor to render his country in this relation all those services which the beautiful combination of his rich endowments qualified him to perform. In a letter to a friend, he thus sets forth his motives for undertaking the work:
: When I accepted the Agency of National Education, one of the principal considerations which induced me not to evince an absolute unwillingness was the conviction that in this office very great injury could be inflicted on the national culture and morals, by rash measures and widely extended plans, based rather on the principles of a certain philosophy of the day than on a knowledge of human nature and true philanthropy, and the fear that this post might finally fall into wholly incompetent hands, should the sentiment gain ground that every good citizen must withdraw from the higher offices until he should be unworthily constrained to their acceptance, or, as the phrase is, until his services should be in demand. I was conscious that among my intirmities was not to be numbered, as least as chief, the disposition to devise extravagant plans, or, having derised them, to execute them at all bazards, directing and accommodating every thing to them; and it was almost my highest ambition in this delicate and onerous office simply to inflict no injury, not to wound the venerable national character, not to offend the indescribably deep-rooted national feeling of individual freedom, and to remove from the minds of many excellent persons the suspicion that this Agency of National Education was designed to undermine the influence of the Christian religion, and as far as possible to Frenchify our simple, inflexible nation. Should I have prevented this kind of evil, and should the agency have been in my hands neither a scourge with which to lacerate the upright heart of the simple, nor a means of causing the general discontent to rise to its highest pitch, then I flattered myself that I should at least have accomplished some relative good; and this I supposed myself in a condition to effect.
But I will not dissemble, that my expectations, at first so moderate, were subsequently enlarged; and, if they now exceed the limits of my abilities, it is chiefly due to you, sir, and to other worthy men, who thought me capable of something more.
In the matter of national instruction, I flatter myself that important improvements can not only be devised, but may also be effected, principally by avoiding two mistakes: the first, that of sacrificing to some ideal of imaginary perfection the real, but less brilliant improvements which it is possible to make (a principle that would probably admit of a wider application); the other, that of losing the good which is actually attainable, by desiring too much of it at once. Such shall be the rule of my activities in this matter, and from it I venture to promise myself something.
In the extended department which has for its object the practice of medicine in its entire compass, and in which so many glaring defects, chiefly in the rural districts, exists, I have the good will of many respectable men in this science, and their promised assistance and illumination, on which, in the devising of measures relative to this matter, I shall be able and obliged to rely; whilst, in the choice of the same, I hope to keep in view the required circumspection and considerateness; and I shall take special pains that I, who am ex officio under obligation to assist in removing empiricism, do not draw upon myself, though in a different sense, the same opprobrious epithet.
The flourishing arts and sciences, likewise an object of my care, is perhaps too dependent on circumstances, chiefly on those of external prosperity and ease, and is perhaps from its very nature also too free, or shall I say too capricious a matter, to allow me to promise myself that great good will result from my exertions in this direction, much less a golden age. Should I have the happiness of becoming acquainted with meritorious men who need encouragement, with opening intellects which need development, and should I be able in my relation to be serviceable to both, I shall esteem this a more real good than to give existence to brilliant institutions in our fatherland.
With such purposes and prospects, he proceeded on the busy and in many respects obstructed path of his new vocation. Foremost in his estimation was the improvement of the school system. It had long been with him a favorite idea. Son of a competent instructor, who was likewise author of a prize essay on school im
provement, to which, in the year 1782, was awarded the gold medal by the Zealand Society, and who had regulated his own school in entire accordance with the principles advocated in this essay, with whom Van der Palm had seen what pertained to a well regulated school, he had certainly also, from his earliest youth, heard complaints respecting the defective laws of his country in behalf of this most important interest, and to him those defects had been exhibited. His arrangements with Lord van de Perre contemplated that he should be actively engaged in improving the Middelburg schools; with the Zealand nobleman also he must have frequently deliberated on this subject. During his political relation in Zealand, he deeply interested himself in this matter; and I find among his papers a draft from his own hand for the regulation of the Middelburg school system. Also in Leyden he had already been induced to take a seat with the existing school commission. Called now to make a general application of all the wisdom and experience acquired by him in this matter, the entire renovation of primary instruction was the fruit. Under the administration of Van der Palm, by his genius and vigor of mind, was laid the foundation of that school system which, though not yet perfected, has attracted, however, in so high a degree the admiration of foreign nations, and elicited the high and well known encomiums, first of Cuvier, and subsequently of Cousin. According to the principles and preparations of Van der Palm, under the pensionary Schimmelpenninck, the law of 1806 was prepared, with the regulations afterward prescribed and introduced; and these continued not only under the French regency, but have remained in force up to the present time. “The improved school system,' says a competent writer, was the last gift of the Dutch Republic to the world. The condition in which Van der Palm found the schools, when he entered on bis duties, he has him. self vividly portrayed in his address to the first assembly of school inspectors appointed by him, convened in 1801.
Address to School Inspectors in 1801. In the instruction of the schools not only here and there is something to be rectified, but every thing, one thing more leprous than another, is to be restored and renewed. The instructors of youth, through want of adequate encourage. ment, by the extinction of all emulation, from defectiveness of training, and still more in consequence of embarrassment and poverty sunk into a state of deep humiliation, have no idea of the nature and importance of their vocation, and regard the man who would elevate them to their proper position as an odious innovator, who would sacrifice them to his capricious will, and deprive them of the rest that might otherwise remain to them during their worn-out lives. The mode of instruction prevalent in the schools is servile and mechanical, adapted not to excite in the breasts of the children a desire of learning, but to extin. guish it; not to develop their mental powers, but to blunt them for the remainder of their lives; not to fill their memories with the knowledge of useful
things, but with confused sounds. This mode of instruction has, however, as its zealous supporters, the countless multitude of those who cling tenaciously to what is old, and regard as a crime the desire of being wiser than their fathers; the text-books of the schools, useless as to the purpose which they should subserve, uninteresting and prolix, have, however, by reason of their contents and origin, a venerable appearance in the eyes of many, who regard it as no less than sacrilege to discard these and substitute others in their place. Amoug the parents, we meet with extreme indifference as to the training of their offspring, in their minds the grossest prejudices, and in their families all the consequences of a neglected education; in church sessions a spirit of opposition, as quickly as the care of important matters, which it is impossible for them to manage, is withdrawn from their authority; in the clergy, dependence, timidity, or bigotry, all equally fatal to the reformation of tho schools, -of the schools, whose locality alone not unfrequently presents an insuperable obstacle to their most necessary improvement. Add to this the effects of civil and religious factions, and the alienations which they engender; the almost general discontent, arising from the calamity of the times still more than from the essential defects of our form of government; and the state of the public treasury, which, exhausted by an amazingly expensive land force, and by the national debt, which has in. creased far beyond our ability, can offer no effectual assistance by which other. wise the greatest and most numerous grievances might perhaps be alleviated. With what prospect, might one well exclaim, with what prospect at all favor. able can one undertake the work of school improvement, or comfort himself in the ungrateful office of inspector of schools ? What Hercules will lead the stream to cleanse these stables of Augias, and disinfect the polluted air of its pestilential breath?
The improvement of medical practice by means of better governmental regulations, was, according to his previous purpose, an object to which he devoted special attention. As commissary in this department, he appointed Dr. J. van Heekeren, a young but eminently competent and meritorious man, by whose coöperation the Agent himself quickly became familiar, in its entire range, with this department of public administration. To these exertions is due the regulation, contained in the ordinances of the government of the Batavian Republic of March 20th, 1804, which constitutes the unaltered foundation of all the regulations subsequently made up to the present time, and the excellence of which has been so evidently confirmed by experience.
The Agent was explicitly charged in his commission with the care of introducing a uniform spelling of the mother-tongue, the regulation of which was generally felt to be a necessity, and for which the Society for Public Utility had already made preparations. The Agent assumed the whole management of this matter; and the result of his efforts and consultations with certain other philologists was, in the department of grammar, the work of Dr. Weiland; and in that of orthography, the treatise of Professor Siegenbeek, prepared entirely under his own eye: a treatise which secured, in a very high degree, the approbation of the public.
The Agency of National Education terminated in December, 1801, in consequence of the constitution being again changed, which