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gervation of such statisties. They will not only be highly valuable for immediate study and reference, but they will constitute an imperishable and invaluable record in the future, of the labors and services which our Association performed for posterity.
SCHOOLS - A GLANCE BACKWARD AND FORWARD.
Plato has said that the ancients were wiser and lived nearer the Gods than we,” and as we gaze backward through the vista of years, we are half persuaded to echo the sentiment. Visionary legends and puzzling myths have come to us with the few attested facts concerning the early world; yet through the mist of ages, we can trace the dim outlines of splendid ruins, bearing within and about them the magic touch of many Lost Arts. Asia, the cradle of the world, was not less the cradle of letters, rocked by the inspired hand of those who dwelt not afar from Eden's bowers; and who have left us, upon the now newly exhumed tiles and cylinders of clay, records of a mighty people. Their schools, like the privileges of their government, were for the few; and the wise men and magicians initiated only a chosen number into the secrets of science and the mysteries of nature. An ancient King of Persia first founded a college, solely for the priesthood; but, whatever of literature it may have fostered, is now irrevocably lost. Jewish history gives us no account of schools except those of the priests and prophets, and of a few private tutors; yet without schools, the wandering children of the desert often uttered eloquent words in melodious measures, under the guidance of their ever-faithful teacher - Nature. Tamerlane, who strewed the earth with dead, often sought the companionship of scholars and poets; and Baber wrote spirited annals of his
And, far back, when the world was barbarous, we read of the pet institution of our day- Public Schools. During the latter half of the sixteenth century -the golden age of India — when Acbar was sovereign, they were regulated by royal authority, thus: The boys were first taught the letters of the Persian Alphabet separately, with the different accents or marks of pronunciation; and as soon as they had a perfect knowledge of this, which is acquired in a few days, they were exercised in combinations of two letters, and after studying them
for a week, they were given a short line of prose or verse containing a religious or moral sentiment wherein these combinations constantly occurred. They were expected to read this with occasional assistance from the Teacher, who, for several days, continued to give them a new hemistich or distich and a repetition of what had been read before. The young scholar was given four exercises daily: the alphabet, the combinations, a new bemistich and what he had read before. The sciences were taught in the following order: Morality, Arithmetic, Accounts, Agriculture, Geometry, Longimetry, Astronomy, Geomancy, Economies, the Art of Government, Physics, Logic, Natural Philosophy, Abstract Mathematics, Divinity and History. Each individual was educated according to his prospects; and even while yet within the shadow of the Dark Ages, these schools and the Hindoo Colleges were counted the hope and pride of the Empire.
China was not then the hidden light which she is now deemed, although it was left for later generations to develop and apply her wonderful discoveries and inventions. Before the Christian Era, a work was written in China upon the importance and necessity of establishing Common Schools, and in every village, boys who were obliged to labor during the day, were taught at evening schools; while all those of four and five years of age were taught to read. The rich now employ private tutors, and a female is occasionally educated, and attains reputation in poetic composition. Peshamar and Bokhava have Seminaries of education. The poor
of Mohammedan nations send their children to a Mollah, where they learn to read the Koran — the rich employing private tutors. Hindoo learning is now confined to the sacred books, which are said to have issued simultaneously from the mouth of Bhroman; yet the priests of this day do not understand even the use of the instruments now in their possession. The few schools which the English have established there and those by the missionaries, are now the only effective means of instruction. Thus does the westward “Star of Empire” return to illume the darkened east. In Burmah, through the influence of a French missionary, Public Schools were once established, and parents were obliged to send their children; but this institution died with its founder. In 1713, we hear of schools in Tobolsk, where German, Geometry, Latin, French and Drawing are taught. The Swedish emigrants and Russian prisoners thus cast the early dew upon the otherwise barren soil, and a Siberian exile is no more a wanderer and an outcast. A glimmering of the light upon the plains of Shinar was felt upon all Asia, and finally made Egypt mistress of the world in the arts and sci
ences; yet only the few were permitted to share that wisdom and cultivation, which has since vanished at the approach of ignorance and superstition, even as the fertile soil has disappeared beneath the encroaching sand. At present, there are schools attached to every mosque, where children may be taught at trifling expense. Their lessons are generally written upon tablets painted white, being mostly passages from the Koran, and certain prayers, which are rubbed out when learned. Both Teacher and scholars are seated upon the ground; the latter of whom study aloud, with a swinging motion of the body, which is thought to assist the memory. Teachers sometimes cannot read, but having committed the Koran, succeed in maintaining their position.
We are told of an ancient King of Madagascar, who sent some of his subjects to England and France for their education, and then prepared schools for the benefit of Teachers, both male and female. Thus the isles of the sea have felt the progressive impulse of our common humanity, yet Greece alone was left to furnish models of taste and scholarship for all succeeding ages. No Roman prowess or physical might could conquer or avail its intellectual supremacy; and no Roman youth was considered educated until he had listened to the sages and orators of Greece. In their excellent and comprehensive system of schools, children were taught reading, writing, grammar, and music; and in later times, philosophy and oratory in addition to thorough physical training, which latter the Spartans deemed sufficient. Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato, yet live uneclipsed in the vast influence of their lives and teachings.
The Romans first taught their children to swim and dive; then to read; adding the accomplishments of wrestling, leaping and running. They were further taught the fine arts, grammar, geography, ethics, arms and dancing; their instruction being suited to their condition in life. Learned Greeks were their Teachers, propagating their peculiar
. tenets, which were scrupulously supported by their pupils. At eighteen they were capable of military duty, at twenty they were men. Alas, that amid the wreck of empire Italy is but a crushed atom! Abounding in aids to learning, it still fosters a degraded and illiterate people. With such magnificent ruins and palaces of art, it calls pilgrims from every land and clime, and yet nourishes a thriftless and indolent population.
During the fifteenth century, in Constantinople, boys were sent to public schools at four years of age, and continued there until their fifteenth year; the course of study comprising reading, writing, grammar,
arithmetic and geometry. At colleges the chief mode of teaching was by lecture; upon logic, rhetoric, Latin, ethics, medicine and law. The best law-school in the Roman empire was at Constantinople, except one at Berytus. The Spanish Moors, in the tenth century, during the night of barbarism, established public libraries and academies in all the great towns; but their descendants have failed to heed the beacon light which the darkness of religious despotism must ever obscure. Portugal lagged not far behind, and under Charlemagne the empire and cultivation of the Cæsars slowly receded to northern Europe. He established schools for the young, compelled their attendance, and founded the University of Paris ; leaving Francis I to organize a college for learning Latin and Greek, and to advance the art of printing. In later times Richelieu founded the French Academy, which has been succeeded by schools that rival with any upon the Continent. Anon, Albion's cliffs arose amid the mist and fog, and in the unexampled stride of Alfred's reign could boast of schools for the common people; yet the spasmodic effort of one great man's care could not save a nation from the blight and mildew of the feudal ages; and not until the Elizabethan age was the veil lifted from eyes that saw not and ears that heard not the teachings of nature and revelation. Oxford bad then cast but a single ray of its modern effulgence upon the darkened land ; and Roger Bacon, only, had gazed centuries beyond the legitimate vision of his age and time. Scotland accompanied her sister-province, and now excels her, in affording parochial schools where the poor may be educated at trifling expense. The University of Glasgow can boast of age and celebrity, and back to Elizabeth's time do we look for the seal of antiquity upon the university at Dublin. The first German university was established at Prague about the middle of the fourteenth century, and soon bad 7000 students. One at Vienna, another at Heidelberg soon followed; but despite the occasional revisions of the system of public instruction, the Austrian tendencies to pleasure hold continual warfare with the attempt to promote science and literature. A century and a half since, Frederick William of Prussia, catching the bearing of our free institutions, organized schools which should benefit every grade of society; and although a model for the world, they are still crippled by adherence to the arbitrary authority of a crumbling throne.
Baden, Jena and Weimar are as household words in the German States, and the latter has come to be the Athens of the civilized world. Goodrich informs us, that “in biblical literature German scholars are in advance of all other nations, and also in linguistic lore, and that in
the department of history they are scarcely less renowned, especially in the philosophy of history.” But not in all Europe are just school regulations so resolutely enforced as in the little mountain-districts of Switzerland, where in every hamlet geography, history and singing are taught in the primary schools; in the secondary, instruction is given in ancient and modern languages, geometry and the fine arts. Rich and poor are educated together; the latter gratuitiously. The sacrament is administered only to those who have received a certain degree of instruction. The basis of their political system is education, and among them freedom breathes the pure atmosphere of Alpine summits. Holland was once famous for its men of learning; but Belgium fails to provide opportunities of instruction for the masses. In Norway schools are stationary in the villages, but circulatory in the provinces. There are High Schools and Drawing Schools, which latter all who are to engage in mechanical pursuits must attend. In Iceland the family schools leave none who are not able to read.
As we speed across the ocean to the New World we are aghast at our necessities, yet proud of our progress.
While the shadow of war rested upon our land, and during its visible presence among us, only the present need was considered ; but the martyr-element of New England scorned difficulties and dangers in securing the benefit of schools. Fresh from the triumphs of a righteous victory, and manfully released from the despair of oppression, it is no marvel that our forefathers generously based all public institutions upon the firm ground-work of liberty; and to secure this foundation gave every child ample opportunity to learn its uses and abuses. New England has ever been in the van, and that portion of our country where the pall of slavery lies heaviest, ever in the rear. Throughout the north and west, hundreds and millions of dollars are expended in endowing schools whose results are incalculable even without the prestige of age, or the dew of ancient But the question arises, “ Whither do we tend ?”
· Why has the tread of empire steadily marched westward to us?”
A barren plain entombs the Chaldean glory and splendor; Memphis and Alexandria are but legends of past prosperity ; Athens is but a beautiful ruin, despite its late spasmodic modernizing ; the balmy air of Byzantium is redolent only of the enervating pipe, and of the red wine ; and Rome, alas, is but a dark stain upon a rich antique.
Westward with the power of empire has the light of intelligence gone, and we only need to mention Goethe, Humboldt, La Place, Lamartine, Milton and Locke to prove the ripeness of German, French and Eng