REVIEWS OF Fireside Education (1838), by Samuel G. Goodrich

Reviews of other works by Goodrich

The New-Yorker, August 11, 1838
Knickerbocker, September 1838
The New-Yorker, September 8, 1838
American Museum of Science, Literature, and the Arts, September 1838
Baltimore Literary Monument, December 1838
Godey’s Lady’s Book, December 1838
North American Magazine, April 1839
Christian Examiner, May 1839

Notice. The New-Yorker, 11 August 1838: 333.

Fireside Education’ is the title of a new work from the pen of Peter Parley, which Coleman, 141 Nassau-st. is about to publish. It is highly spoken of by those who have seen it.


Knickerbocker, 12 (September 1838): 261-263. Ed. Lewis Gaylord Clark.

Fireside Education By the author of Peter Parley’s Tales. In one volume. pp. 396. New-York: F. J. Huntington.

The importance of public instruction is beginning to be felt with deep solicitude in this country. The necessity of a better system of education than the ingenuity of man has yet discovered, is acknowledged every where. Had there existed a true philosophy of mind, the difficulties which our fathers encountered in devising schemes for mental improvement, would have necessarily been obviated, since the educing of the faculties must have been directed by the same analysis which made them known. Dugald Stewart felt the importance of this truth, but his genius was too circumscribed for its illustration. He had sense enough to appreciate the maxims of Lord Bacon, and he acknowledged the importance of clearing the mind of those antiquated forms of error which obscure the intellectual vision, and cloud it with prejudice; but he wanted that originalness which can perceive the true relations of things, and which is indispensable to the philosophic character. He had not even the sagacity to discover, that, while the Organon of his great master was ever on his lips, he had failed to apply the inductive method in his metaphysics, and was of necessity groping in the dark. How could it be expected that much valuable knowledge were attainable from such unguided speculations, or how could a better system of education be hoped from their conclusions?

It is remarkable, that while the other sciences have advanced under the Baconian guidance, the first of all, because the medium of all, should have actually gone backward. In proof of this, the most popular philosophy of the day is verging toward Platonism, while the sensual system, though it still maintains its ground in certain time-worn seminaries of bad metaphysics, is abandoned by every man who is not behind the age in psychology. This, we must confess, is a good sign. It shows that the sensual scheme of intellectuals was found wanting; that it was not adapted to the condition and wants of men; that it failed to make men wiser and happier, but led them into all imaginable error, and flattered them with conclusions equally false and ruinous. The subtle logic of Hume, in carrying out the principles of sensualism with such unanswerable power, convinced the world, long ago, that their foundation was on the sand. The difficulty, however, lay principally in the want of an instrument by which to upheave the monstrous fabric. Such an instrument has never been found to this day, and we fearlessly attribute the want of it to the insufficiency of our logical attainments. We are apt to attribute to Aristotle all that we possess in dialectics, and it is barely possible that he did in reality accomplish that which is passed to his credit. For ourselves, we never believed that the Stagyrite originated the great work which bears his name. It transcends human belief, if we reflect on it a moment. All knowledge has been gradually progressive, and no man has ever been heard of, who, unaided, accomplished every thing that had been done in a science. Beside, if Aristotle had possessed the stupendous mind necessary for the accomplishment of what is charged to him in this one walk of knowledge, he could not have failed to perceive that its architectural projection was incomplete; that there was something wanting in the proportions of the building, which his genius had not supplied. This deficiency is the very instrument to which we have alluded; a method by which the fallacy of many maxims, received as incontrovertible, may be exposed, and by which the sensual philosophy and its atheistical consequences may be demonstrated to be false.

To show that such an instrument is wanting, we would ask some one to point out a rule in Aristotle, or in any of his followers, by which the fallacy may be detected and exposed in such propositions as these: ‘Nothing can be made out of nothing;’

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‘God cannot annihilate space,’ etc. These propositions cannot, in the present state of dialectics, be answered argumentatively; and it is because a more perfect analysis of the mental faculties, and a more satisfactory explanation of their modes of affection, have not been developed. Such a development, in our judgment, is nevertheless perfectly practicable, and when effected, will not leave Atheism an inch of ground to stand on. It will enable us to demonstrate that Natural Theology could not have possibly been discovered by unaided human intelligence; that it was, indisputably, subsequent to revelation; that regarded as an effect of á priori reasoning, it has been the vantage ground of infidelity, inasmuch as the inconclusiveness of its arguments have been shown, and even where not shown, felt, with overwhelming power.

Had the inductive method of investigating mental phenomena been applied by the successors of Lord Verulam, the fundamental principle of knowledge that teaches us to compare the unknown with the known, ought to have suggested the necessity of simply observing the manner in which the mind acts; for as the mind now acts, so it always must have acted, since nature is ever consistent with herself. The very fact of there being a grammar of reasoning denominated logic, ought to have informed us that the mode of mental action is already known, which involves the fundamental principle of knowledge above mentioned. Instead then of speculating about perception, or any other faculty of mind, we had nothing to do but apply the principles of logic, or in other words, the laws of argumentation, to the matter in hand, which would have led us to these conclusions, viz: that as all knowledge of truth comes from comparison, the first possible idea must have been, as it were, a logical inference; that there must have been two affections of sense, before there could have been one sensible cognition. For instance, an infant, while en ventresa mére, is subjeced to the affection of warmth, but it is impossible for it to be knowing of this, because it has never been subjected to an opposite affection. When it becomes exposed to our atmosphere, it has had, for the first time, two affections of sense, from which the first sensation arises, and this sensation or thought is necessarily the result of conception and perception. Though the infant does not remember the mental process, it must have been such, because it is the invariable one through life in acquiring knowledge; and if it had not ben so, it would have precluded all systematized methods of reasoning, and made the science and the art of logic impossible.

If the foregoing remarks are correct, they naturally suggest the most important consequences. It will be perceived that the only philosophy of mind discoverable by human agency, will be a perfect system of logic, a system which, by fallacy unexposed, which can be involved in any proposition; a system which, by prescribing limits to the discursive faculty, will not attempt to draw conclusions from any juxta-position of ideas, divine and human, unless aided by revelation; a system which must prove the truth of revelation, by demonstrating the inadequacy of man’s power to reach what it unveils. Any farther philosophy of mind must be revealed to man, for he cannot discover it. While investigating the nature of thought, he forgets that he is thinking, and that the very object of his search is active in its own pursuit.

We have been led to the foregoing remarks, by reflecting on the causes which have been most active in opposing the progress of education. The subject is one of the utmost importance, and demands the attention of every philosophic mind. In our apprehension, no great advancement can be made, till a radical change is effected in mental philosophy, exploding the jargon of metaphysics, and substituting an intelligible and rational view of man. So long as men are exercised among

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mere chimeras of imaginatin, and colleges uphold the most glaring absurdities, under the name of philosophy, education, in its highest degree, must unavoidably be overlooked, and in its lowest, be at least misdirected. We would not, however, be understood as discouraging any effort that can be made, to diminish the difficulties which stand in the way of instruction; on the conotrary, we would favor every hearty attempt for so laudable an end. Much good has already been done in a practical way, and much more may certainly be accomplished. We already find a more humane and judicious spirit than formerly existed, among instructors; better books, and more exalted motives of action introduced, and much that promises auspiciously to the cause of education. The book whose title is at the head of this notice, is decidedly one of the best manuals of practical education we have ever read. Its object is to instruct parents in bringing out the young mind at home, before it goes abroad into the wide world, to be subjected to surrounding influences. The author shows that man was designed by his Creator to be educated, and he then treats of his subject in relation to our physical, intellectual, and moral nature, and illustrates the effect, in after life, of early formation. He clearly enforces the truth, that it is a provision of divine providence that the controlling lessons of life shall be given by parents, whose obligations are considered in relation to their children. Religious and moral instruction are admirably treated; the former without a shade of sectarianism. Indeed, the ethical part of this book strikes us as perfectly unexceptionable. The topics of health, amusements, intellectual culture, etc., are all skilfully managed, and cannot fail to be of assistance to parents.

On the whole, we welcome ‘Fireside Education’ as a valuable auxiliary in the field of public instruction; for though it cannot do much in breaking up false systems of philosophy, which have heretofore presented insurmountable barriers to the progress of rational knowledge, it will have its use as a pioneer in the war against ignorance and immorality.


Notice. The New-Yorker, 5 (September 8, 1838): 397.

Fireside Education, by the Author of Peter Parley’s Tales.”—We have here an admirable work from the pen of a well known contributor of both ‘the useful and the sweet’ to the stores of American literature; and we believe this will be adjudged the most valuable of his works in the former department. We would choose to speak of it at length; but neither time nor space is afforded this week. We can now only state some of its leading propositions, which are as follows: Man designed by his Creator to be the subject of Education; Education necessary to the development and guidance of his Physical, Intellectual and Moral Faculties, severally considered; education forms individual character. From these as a basis, the writer proceeds to consider the nature, responsibilities and ends of parental government; the leading characteristics of children; and thence proceeds to the several moral, social and intellectual qualifications which form the character of the good man, citizen and Christian. Lastly, accomplishments and manners are considered. The work is not characterized by original and striking thoughts, but by a natural, direct and winning style, and by a self-evident truthfulness which must ‘commend it to every man’s conscience.’ The book is a very neat 12mo of 396 pages, and is most beautifully printed—more beautifully, we are compelled to say, than such work is done in this city. (F. J. Huntington, 74 Pearl-street.)


American Museum of Science, Literature, and the Arts, 1 (September 1838): 149-152. Ed. Nathan C. Brooks.

Fireside Education. By the author of Peter Parley’s Tales, pp. 396. New-York: F. J. Huntington.

Perhaps, no volume ever issued from the American press, of greater practical utility, than Fireside Education. [sic]

It takes up the subject of instruction at home, the proper place of commencement, and shows the necessity of subjecting the young and placid mind, there, to proper influences, in order that it may be fitted for intercourse with te world. “If the fountain be pure, the streams will be pure also.” The author treats his subject in an able manner and inculcates physical, intellectual and moral culture, according to the true philosophy of our nature. We will notice the work in detail hereafter, and in the meantime earnestly recommend the perusal of it to all those interested in the nurture of youth.

“As the infant begins to discriminate between the objects around, it soon discovers one countenance that ever smiles upon it with a peculiar benignity. When it wakes from its sleep, there is one watchful form ever bent over its cradle. If startled by some un-

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happy dreams, a guardian angel seems ever ready to soothe its fears. If cold, that ministering spirit brings it warmth, if hungry, she feeds it; if in pain, she relieves it; if happy, she caresses it. In joy or sorrow, in weal or woe, she is the first object of its thoughts. Her presence is its heaven. The mother is the DEITY OF INFANCY!

“Now reflect a moment upon the impressible, the susceptible charactr of this little being, and consider the power of this mother in shaping the fine clay that is entrusted to her hands. Consider with what authority, with what effect, one so loved, so reverenced, so adored, may speak!

“Thus, in the budding spring of life, infancy is the special charge, and subject to the special influence, of the mother. But it soon advances to childhood. Hitherto, it has been a creature of feeling; it now becomes a being of thought. The intellectual eye opens upon the world. It looks abroad, and imagination spreads its fairy wing. Every thing is beautiful, every thing is wonderful. Curiosity is perpetually alive, and questions come thick and fast to the lisping lips. What is this? Who made it? How? When? Wherefore? These are the eager interrogations of childhood. At this period, the child usually becomes fond of the society of his father. He can answer his questions. He can unfold the mysteries which excite the wonder of the childish intellect. He can tell him tales of what he has seen, and lead the child forth in the path of knowledge. The great characteristic of this period of life is an eager desire to obtain new ideas. New ideas to a child, are bright as gold to the miser or gems to a fair lady. The mind of childhood is constantly beset with hunger and thirst for knowledge. I appeals to the father, for he can gratify these burning desires.

“How naturally does such a relation beget, in the child, both affection and reverence! He sees love in the eyes of the father, he hears it in the tones of his voice; and the echo of the young heart gives back love for love. He discovers, too, that his father has knowledge, which to him is woderful. He can tell why the candle goes out, and though he may not be able to satisfy the child where the beautiful flame is gone, he can at least explain why it has vanished, and how it may be recalled. He can tell why the fire burns, why the stream flows, why the trees bow in the breeze. He can tell where the rain comes from, and unfold the mysteries of the clouds. He can explain the forked lightning and the rolling thunder. He can unravel the mighty mystery of the sun, the moon, and the stars. He can point beyond to that Omnipotent Being who in goodness and wisdom has made them all.

“What a sentiment, compounded of love and reverence towards the father, is thus engendered in the bosom of the child! What a power to instruct, to cultivate, to mould that gentle being is thus put into the hands of this parent! How powerful is admonition from his lips, how authoratative [sic] his example! The father is the DEITY OF CHILDHOOD. The feeling of the child towards the father is the begin[n]ing of that sentiment, which expands with the expanding intellect, and rising to heaven on the wing of faith, bows in love and reverence before the Great Parent of the universe.

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“Let us go forward to the period of youth. The mother holds the reins of the soul; the father sways the dominion of the intellect. I do not affirm that there is an exact or complete division of empire between the parents. Both exert a powerful influence over the mind and heart. I mean only to state generally that the natural power of the mother is exercised rather over the affections, and that of the father over the mind. It is a blended sway, and if exerted in unison it has the force of destiny. There may be cases in which children may seem to set parental authority at defiance; but these instances, if they actually occur, are rare, and may be regarded as exceptions, which are said to prove the rule. Remember the impressible character of youth, and consider its relation to the parent. Is not the one like the fused metal, and has not the other the power to impress upon it an image ineffaceable as the die upon steel? Nay, is it not matter of fact, attested by familiar observation, that children come forth from the hands of their parents stamped with a character that seldom deserts them in after life? Are they not impressed with manners, tastes, habits and opinions, which circumstances may modify, but never efface? If the countenance of the child often bears the semblance of the father or mother, do we not still more frequently discover in the offspring the moral impress of the parent?

“Is it not true, then, that parents are the law- givers of their children? Does not a mother’s counsel, does not a father’s example, cling to the memory, and haunt us through life? Do we not often find ourselves subject to habitual trains of thought, and if we seek to discover the origin of these, are we not insensibly led back, by some beaten and familiar track, to the paternal threshold? Do we not often discover some home-chiseled grooves in our minds, into which the intellectual machinery seems to slide as by a sort of necessity? Is it not, in short, a proverbial truth that the controlling lessons of life are given beneath the parental roof? I know, indeed, that wayward passions spring up in early life, and urging us to set authority at defiance, seek to obtain the mastery of the heart. But, though struggling for liberty and license, the child is shaped and moulded by the parent. The stream that bursts from the fountain and seem[s] to rush forward head-long and self-willed, still turns hither and thither, according to the shape of its mother earth over which it flows. If an obstacle is thrown across its path, it gathers strength, breaks away the barrier, and again bounds forward. It turns, and winds, and proceeds on its course, till it reaches its destiny in the sea. But in all this, it has shaped its course and followed out its career, from bubbling infancy at the fountain to its termination in the great reservoir of waters, according to the channel which its parent earth has provided. Such is the influence of a parent over his child. It has within itself a will, and at its bidding it goes forward; but the parent marks out its track. He may not stop its progress, but he may guide its course. He may not throw a dam across its path, and say to it, hitherto mayest thou go, and no farther; but he may turn it through safe, and gentle, and useful courses, or he may leave it to plunge over wild cataracts, or lose itself in some sandy desert, or collect its strength in a torrent, but to spread ruin and desolation along its borders.

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“The fireside, then, is a seminary of infinite importance. It is important because it is universal, and because the education it bestows, being woven in with the woof of childhood, gives form and colour to the whole texture of life. There are few who can receive the honors of a college, but all are graduates of the hearth. The learning of the university may fade from the recollection; its classic lore may moulder in the halls of memory. But the simple lessons of home, enamelled upon the heart of childhood, defy the rust of years, and outlive the more mature but less vivid pictures of after days. So deep, so lasting, indeed, are the impressions of early life, that you often see a man in the imbecility of age holding fresh in his recollection the events of childhood, while all the wide space between that and the present hour is a blasted and forgotten waste. You have perchance seen an old and half-obliterated portrait, and in the attempt to have it cleaned and restored, you may have seen it fade away, while a brighter and more perfect picture, painted beneath, is revealed to view. This portrait, first drawn upon the canvass, is no inapt illustration of youth; and though it may be concealed by some after design, still the original traits will shine through the outward picture, giving it tone while fresh, and surviving it in decay.”


Baltimore Literary Monument 1 (December 1838): 144.

This work is one of the most useful that has appeared during the season. We would rather have the reputation of writing ‘Fireside Education,’ if we could be brought to desire the fame of any one, than that of writing any or all of the novels and romances that have appeared since the world was made. [The page also has reviews of three fake Peter Parley books!]


Review by Rufus Dawes. Godey’s Lady’s Book, 17 (December 1838): 275-277. Ed. Sarah Josepha Hale & Louis A. Godey.

Written for the Lady’s Book.

THE FOLLOWING REMARKS WERE ELICITED BY A PERUSAL OF A WORK RECENTLY PUBLISHED IN NEW YORK, BY THE AUTHOR OF PETER PARLEY TALES, ENTITLED

“FIRESIDE EDUCATION.”

One of the best features in this book, is the recognition of the great truth, that man was designed by his Creator to be the subject of education. This truth, however, has not been received as clearly as it ought be, much less has it been carried out by writers on education, in the developement of those higher relations of humanity, which it should be the object of all philosophy to discover.

The importance of public instruction is beginning to be felt throughout the civilized world, and it is remarkable that an arbitrary government should have set the first example in its general diffusion. The motives of the Prussian sovereignty in disseminating knowledge among the people, have, we conceive, been misapprehended. Even our author imputes a bad one. But the truth is, it has been given to man to perceive that there can be no stability among human institutions, unless the affections are educated, as well as the intellect; that the will, as well as the understanding, should be directed, and that we must learn to love goodness, before we can possibly practise it. The Prussian government has felt the influence of this truth, and its end in educating the people, is to impart to them a love of order, an affection for the institutions of their country, and a power, through enlightened intelligence, of understanding and pursuing truth. If by this far-reaching policy, the king designs to perpetuate the existing form of government, he at the same time encourages democratic feelings, by taking the only effective mode of inspiring them. If his policy be arrayed against the spirit of licentiousness, it is in favour of liberty; since there can be no true liberty, without order and the renunciation of those evils which are congenial with the uneducated will, and which marshal themselves in opposition to human progress.

Great truths, before they are permitted to blaze up in their effulgence, lie in shadow with the spiritual man, and are seen with the indistinctness of objects veiled in the mists of morning;—they lie, too, in shadow, simultaneously with many persons far removed from each other, and are watched with the selfishness of genius, as revelations of superior mind. Man is nevertheless but the medium of their communication, and the cloud that envelopes them, is nothing more than his own evil appropriation. In proportion as he puts away selfishness and attributes truth to its fountain, will be the clearness of his vision in the discernment of its beauty. Well has it been said, that to be proud of the truth is to cease to possess it.

Much has been written in Europe and in America, about Progress;—it is a part of the fashionable politics of the day. One of our ablest periodicals is devoted to it; another of them advocates it with great diligence; while both identify it with the democratic principle, combining therewith, as an essential element, a comprehensive philanthropy. This is as far as the idea of progress has been carried; but it has not filled the public mind; it has not carried conviction to the understanding of the more philosophical and well-affected among men; and the reason is, it does not satisfy the wants of our nature. Man is designed to be educated—to progress; but before we can comprehend the nature of his progression, it is necessary to understand the order of his developement. To this end, it has been given to know, that his constitution is threefold—sensual, rational, and spiritual, which are opened in consecutive degrees; that the mind consists of the understanding and the will; that, of the former, truth is predicable, and of the latter, goodness; that there is no perfect truth without goodness; and no perfect goodness without truth; but as the understanding and the will make one, so truth and goodness are united. When man was created, he was made male and female, and the declaration that they were one, was according to the divine order discernible in what has been already stated. Of the male, is predicable understanding and truth; of the female, affection and goodness. The province of each is infinite, but they are alike inoperative, without their spiritual marriage.

As goodness and truth may be manifest in created beings, which are only recipients of them, it will be conceded that their Creator must possess them in perfection. Accordingly we are told that he is goodness itself and truth itself, which with him are united and inseparable: and since goodness and truth could not co-exist with the evil and the false, the evil and the false could not proceed from their opposites. But man is evil and false, though he may be the recipient of goodness and truth. We know, by divine authority, that man fell from a state of innocence to a state of evil, in consequence of his eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which has been revealed to man, that man came into evil by aspiring to knowledge from self and the world. The will was led astray, the understanding accompanied, and man fell. The state of innocence, from which man voluntarily strayed, was one in which, attributing all truth and goodness to their fountain, and looking to that alone in the forgetfulness of self, a perception of them was constantly felt; for as there was no selfishness, there was no evil, and goodness and truth flowed constantly into man, who had no need of further instruction.

From what has been said, it should appear that progress ought to be regarded with reference to an approximation to that state in which man was originally created; that is, with reference to hia regeneration. If then we regard man, the subject of regeneration, as possessing sensual, rational, and spiritual degrees, whicn are opened successively from infancy upward, through life, admitting selfishness to be the

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source of all evil, it will follow that progress is itself regeneration, depending mainly on education.

In pursuing this subject, it will be found, that the grand object to be gained is the correction of the selfish principle, by giving the proper inclination to the will. There is no other obstacle to progress, and education can alone remove it. Infants and children are all in the sensual degree, and the only good they discover, is from imitation or restraint. It is generally a long time before the rational degree is opened, and then, in, proportion as they put way evil and love goodness for itself, and not for any reward it brings, and look to the fountain of all good for aid, the spiritual degree is opened, and their regeneration is effected. Philanthropists, who look for any other progress, deceive themselves. Revelation has accomplished every thing that has yet been done for man, and what remains undone, it will ultimately finish.

It was said, that of the male, understanding and truth are predicable, and of the female, goodness and affection. To the female, therefore, the early education of children should be intrusted, that, as they are yet in the sensual degree, their affections may be chastened and directed. Every thing depends on this primary step. If the will of a child is indomitable, the understanding must be more or less insane, and it is an angelic trust reposed in woman, to watch its growth and impart to it its proper tendency. There is no greater error nor more ruinous, than that which confounds the duties and obligations of the sexes. Divine order has made woman to be the affection of man, man to be the intelligence of woman; and as warmth and light, proceeding from the sun in heaven, they are united and indivisible for use. Nature itself seems to indicate that the mother should be the first instructress of the child, and her undivided care ought to be directed to the subduing of the infant will, and in leading the child to look above, for the only source of life, truth, and goodness.

The necessity of early education at home, will therefore be admitted by all, as well as the importance of rightly understanding the kind of education required. We are glad to see books multiplying on this subject, and efforts making to scatter, far and wide, all the knowledge it our possession relative thereto! The result cannot fail to be advantageous, if in the effort to do good, we do not, at heart, attribute the good to ourselves, and thus profane the truth. “Fireside Education,” though it does not prescribe exactly such a course of domestic instruction, as we should like to see marked out, contains little contrary to such a course, and is, in reality, one of the best books which has yet fallen under our notice. The design of the author may be seen in the following extract from the preface:

“The theory which I present to the reader in the following pages is briefly this: man comes into existence marked by his Creator as the subject of a peculiar design, which is, that he shall reach the perfection of his being through education. This point I illustrate by comparisons, showing that while all the animal races are incapable of being benefited by instruction, and obtain their perfection without it, man can only receive the full development of his physical, intellectual, and moral faculties through a process of teaching and training.

“While man thus stands in contrast to every other living thing as the subject of education, it is to be remarked as a part of the same great scheme of Providence, that the controlling lessons of life, those which last the longest, those which result in fixed habits and permanent tastes, and usually determine the character for good or ill, are given in early life; that they are given at the fireside seminary; and that here the parent, as well by the ordinance of God as the institutions of society, is the teacher. The responsibility of the parent is inferred from these premises. If they are founded in truth, it would seem that every reflecting father and mother, must feel, that after a provision for the comforts of life, education, in its true and full sense—the developing and perfecting the various physical, moral, and intellectual faculties of their children—is the first and strongest duty; and that to sacrifice this or any part of this, for the purpose of acquiring wealth or station, or honour, or any other worldly interest, whether designed for parent or child, is but a surrender to an inferior good, and a lesser obligation, of the greatest benefit and the highest trust. The Great Lawgiver has no where said to parents, bestow wealth, honour, or power on your children; but he has said to them, by the very constitution of human nature, educate your children wisely, if you would train them up to fulfil their duty and their destiny—if you would ensure their escape from misery or promote their chance of happiness. It is for parents to decide whether they will follow the plan of One who sees the end from the beginning, or be seduced into dangerous and fatal error—dangerous and fatal as well to their own peace as to that of their children—by the suggestions of worldly vanity, or current prejudice.”

Having marked out his plan, the author proceeds to consider man in relation to his physical nature, his intellectual and moral faculties, and his distinction from all other living things as the subject of education. This being established, among others, he draws the following inferences:

“Education, then, is the lever, and the only lever, that can lift mankind from the native mire of ignorance. That lever is put into our hands, and how shall we use it! We live in a civilized community. Every individual among us can understand the value of that culture which raises a man from the savage to the civilized state. Is it not the duty of every parent to use his utmost efforts to carry the benefits of this culture to each member of society? I speak not now exclusively to the parent. To him I shall hereafter address myself with a par-ticular and earnest desire to win his ear. But I speak to the community at large. Is there a member of society who can look on the rising generation, and say that he has no interest tn this matter? If so, then is he self-exiled from his race, cut off from all sympathy with his kindred and his kind. That man who is thus

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cold and thus indifferent must be wrapped in the gloom of miserable ignorance, or encased in the triple mail of selfishness. Like ice in a refrigerator, surrounded by a non-conducting layer of charcoal, to shut out the chance of being influenced by the breath of summer, he is bound in the chill security of that philosophy which lays down its code of life in a single dogma—“Take care of no. 1.”

Our author regards the first seventeen years of life as the most important, because during this time, a foundation is laid for the future character. This is, to a certain extent, true; but it is not the whole truth. Every man, from infancy to eternity, is in states of ceaseless change. The changes in external nature, were they all perceived, would present suitable correspondences. The changes in the bud are not the changes in the blossom, and still less in the fruit: neither are the changes in the sensual, those in the rational or spiritual. It is wrong to judge of character from any phase which it presents, or to be discouraged on the appearance of evil. It is wrong, likewise, to be flattered by the appearance of goodness, and to calculate on the progress it seems to indicate. Such aberrations of judgment are fraught with inconceivable mischief. Human character is ever onward for evil or for good, and its individuality is not formed, till the spiritual is separated from the natural. Every one is full of evil and evil is his earliest delight. By the rational operation, he discriminates between evil and good, but he prefers the evil, because it is a present means of sensual enjoyment. So long as the will is unregenerated, there is no chance for the reception of goodness, though there be no overt act of disobedience. There is even danger in this state, inasmuch as it is difficult to understand one’s own heart, and because of our proneness to self-gratulation. It is better for a child to show his evils than to conceal them, for then they may be seen and put away. Though we store the young mind with all the moral precepts in the world, they will avail little, if the spirit of selfishness is left to contend with them. The combat is too unequal, when the ardour is all on one side.

The moral precepts in this book are generally better than have been used in educating children. We take the following from, the title “Self-government.”

“If parents would not trust a child upon the back or a wild horse, without bit or bridle, let them not permit him to go forth into the work unskilled in self-government. If a child is passionate, teach him by gentle and patient means, to curb his temper. If he is greedy, cultivate liberality in him. If he is selfish, promote generosity. If he is sulky, charm him out of it, by encouraging frank good humour. If he is indolent, accustom him to exertion, and train him so as to perform even onerous duties with alacrity. If pride comes in to make his obedience reluctant, subdue him either by counsel or discipline. In short, give your children the habit of overcoming their besetting sins. Let them feel that they can overcome temptation. Let them acquire from experience that confidence in themselves which gives security to the practised horseman, even on the back of a high-strung steed, and they will triumph over the difficulties and dangers which beset them in the path of life.”

We cannot subscribe, however, to the doctrine of self-confidence, here inculcated. A child ought to be taught to distrust himself in the trials that await him. No one has power, of himself, to resist evils; but if he is heartily disposed to do so, and looks habitually to heaven for assistance, he will be sustained in the endeavour. It cannot be too strongly enforced, that each and every vagary of passion arises from self love, and that this must be subdued as the basis of all education. It is impossible to root out one evil without giving place to another, if it is not destroyed with reference to selfishness. Take, for instance, a grudging, avaricious propensity. This may be displaced by appealing to pride or vanity, and the grown up child may become generous, and in the ordinary acceptation of the term, charitable; but he will never do an act of apparent beneficence, without a feeling of self-satisfaction.

The subject of education is so inexhaustible, and the book before us is so worthy of notice, that we have already been led on much farther than we anticipated. It would afford pleasure and profit, were we to furnish more copious extracts from its pages. They contain many excellent lessons, and supply abundant material for reflection. We do not doubt that the work will be popular; it cannot fail to be of service.


North American Review, 48 (April 1839): 380-400. Ed. John Gorham Palfrey.

Art. III.—1. Fireside Education. By the Author of Peter Parley’s Tales. New York: F. J. Huntington. 12mo. pp. 396.

2. Home Education. By Isaac Taylor, Author of “Natural History of Enthusiasm,” “Physical Theory of another Life,” &c. &c. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 12mo. pp. 322.

We recur to the subject of education. Indeed, we can hardly pass it by, if we would have our journal keep up with the progress, the changeful progress, of opinion; for it is evidently about to take its turn as a prominent object of interest. The usual signs of incipient excitement are to be seen and heard. Periodical journals are devoted to it. Societies are formed; lectures pronounced; conventions held; speeches made; offices created; and, what is perhaps in this country the surest sign of all, funds are provided. To say the whole in a few words, Education begins to promise much notoriety, and some money, to its foremost partisans; and the obvious, inevitable consequence of this is a struggle to be foremost. Out of which there may come some evil, but there must come much good. We must have a hobby of some kind; because, if we may judge from the past, society is so constituted here, that it stagnates if not constantly stirred by some agitating topic. The common duties, the regular ongoings of life, have not interest enough; and, therefore, Anti-masonry, Non-resistance, Bran-eating, and the like, chase each other along. But Education, when its turn comes, is not likely to excite much anger and bitterness. Some then will be, for all our controversies are zealous, and zeal is seldom pure. Still the questions to which this subject may give rise, can hardly kindle a fire which shall burn so fiercely, that no one may pass through it, to go to his brother; and in this respect, Education will have greatly the advantage of most of its predecessors.

But the interest of this subject is great, is obvious, indisputable, universal; penetrating the whole mass of society, and all its component parts; embracing within its sphere, religion, government, letters, and all things else of mind or heart; and reaching in its influence through an unending future. It may be hoped, therefore, that when it comes to be

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a topic of common agitation, and multitudes are active about it, it will call into its service good sense, sound principles, the energy which is not rashness, and the prudence which is neither fear nor indolence, seldom as these qualities are found in popular excitements. And hence, also, it may be hoped, that whatever zeal be manifested in the cause of education, it will not be intemperate; and that, in the effort to reform education and diffuse its blessings, it will not be forgotten, that all reform should be cautious and kind if it would not confirm the evils it assails, or substitute new ones for those which it removes.

Any consideration of the subject in its whole length and breadth, will convince one, that, before new truths and higher principles can have an opportunity to improve the processes of education, much is to be done in making ready for mem, and in securing to them the possibility of free and successful activity. For it is certain, that no improvement in education of great value can be expected, which is not based upon the correction of some errors, which are, at once, very prevalent and very injurious. The work must begin with the establishment of new and better principles, as guides in all thought, feeling, and action, in relation to it.

Among the very foremost of these errors, is that which regards education as occupying a secondary place, if any place, among the great objects of human interest; as something, which, if it be let alone, or intrusted to the aids th chance puts within our reach, will lake very sufficient care of itself. It is looked upon as extending its domain over a very narrow portion of life, as excellent employment for the child or the youth, when they must be doing something, but cannot yet do man’s work; and all its fruits are thought to be secured, if the boy is fitted to take his place among men when his beard is grown, without discreditable want of common acquirements and with equal advantages for the strife or work of life.

When we say that these are the views concerning education which now prevail in society, we do not mean that this is the way in which men talk about it, but that it is the way in which most men act. And while these views, low, mean, false, as they are, prevail, a thousand practical errors spring from them and cannot be corrected.

Education is the perpetual law of our being; beginning

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when we begin to live, its future course is measured by our own immortality. If the duty of education falls first and chiefly upon parents, it is because they represent in this the Universal Parent; and it is not too much to say, that his perpetual and universal Providence is always doing for all men, and all spirits, the work of education. All the circumstances which make up the feeble life of the wailing babe, are educating him; and when the older child is brought under the discipline of a school or of his home, he is still, at school or at home, at work or at play, sleeping; or waking, subjected to constant influences which are moulding him for manhood. And when he is “free,” his education “finished,” as is said, and a place given him among men, then is it still true that his education is growing in importance every day; and the value of every hour, of every act and every emotion, is to be measured by its usefulness in building up within him that spiritual being, which death only liberates for future developement. And all reason and religion concur in assuring us, that progress is still the law of spiritual life,—progress from state to state; where all that is, for ever reaps the harvest of all that was, and sows the seeds of all that will be. And therefore, whatever efforts are made in the cause of education, or in the application of its principles to individual cases, it is plain, that they can succeed only so far as they coincide with the general laws which govern the growth and progress of all who live, and only so far as they seek the same end which the Author of all life regards as the end of life. In other words, education cannot be viewed from too high a ground, for it occupies the highest. The search which would detect its ruling laws, and learn the science which combines them into orderly arrangement, and attain to the wisdom which teaches to use this science to good purpose, cannot penetrate too deeply into the mysteries of man’s constitution and destiny; for in the inmost depths of his being these laws are at work, and at the earliest moment of his being they began their work.

We have no purpose of following these views into those questions of psychology and of human destiny, which open before them. The discussion would be out of place here; it would require more room than other topics could allbrd, and a mood of mind, a measure and a quality of attention, not precisely those, which a Review is in the habit of demanding. If, then, it be asked why we have adverted to

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these views at all, we answer, that the mere magnitude and importance of the subject lead to some results which we propose presently to consider; and, if it were not so, something is gained whenever the views we have expressed are remembered. Something is gained, if education stands the higher in the thought and care of a single individual. We do not suppose, that in any thing we have said, we have published a discovery. Such things, in substance, must needs occur, and must always have occurred, to whoever reflects upon the gifts and the wants of his own nature; for they cannot but be suggested by the consciousness, that its wants are those of one born for a spiritual immortality, and the hope that its gifts are those which may make this an immortality of happiness.

But these truths, however often, however plainly, they may have been seen, do not yet form a part of the common daylight in which we all move and live. And every effort to make them so, however feeble, is a good effort. Indeed, the world, too, has its education; and the law of its progress in knowledge seems to require, that truths should sink down into the mass of its common thought gradually and very slowly. In this way every generation goes forward. Truths at first painfully won by laborious effort, and afterwards acknowledged or used but by a few in succeeding generations, and perhaps veiled again, for a long period, by the clouds of a dark age, yet gain, surely and constantly, and extend their influence, and entwine themselves with more and more of the interests of human life, until they are at last a common property; truisms which none assert, because none deny or doubt them, and principles which influence the conduct of all, while they seldom come distinctly into the consciousness of any. It would not he difficult to show, even by a cursory analysis, how much, how very much, of every day of every man, is governed and animated by truths which have thus worked their slow way into the very heart of human belief, feeling, and life.

One effect which would result from the more just appreciation of the value and importance of education, because it would necessarily follow the elevation of education in die public sentiment, is the corresponding elevation in the social position of those engaged in it. Great improvement has taken place in this particular; but there is room for a vast

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deal more. It is only of late, that the business of instruction could be regarded as a profession; and now it holds no equal rank in the public respect, in influence, or in emolument, will) those of medicine or law. in and near our great cities, there are successful teachers who earn much money, and others attached by their office to some time-honored institution; and the position of these men may seem high enough to satisfy any reasonable ambition. It is so; but, if we compare them with the most eminent physicians and lawyers in their immediate vicinity, we shall find, that the public repays the labors of instruction with a far inferior recompense, whether we measure it by money, by extent of reputation and influence, or by the social regard which determines the place which a man holds in society in a way that is very distinctly felt, though it can hardly be described. And if we go down the scale, the difference is still greater. In our country villages, for instance, the doctors’ and the lawyers’ houses are usually among the best, testifying, with “green blinds and brass knocker,” and all other things in conformity, that their owners are sufficiently “well to do” while, in this same village, the education of the whole generation of children may be intrusted to a boy, who spends there a college vacation, lengthened by a few weeks’ “leave of absence,” whose pay is that of a good farm laborer, and whose food is such as he may get from those who find it convenient to pay their modicum of the school tax by letting “the master board it out.”

This picture, it is true, represents the state of things a few years since, rather than now. But the change, though great, is not entire, for in many places things remain much as they were; and the change is nowhere great enough. Happily, there is no precedent among us of any thing quite so bad as the condition described in the well-known anecdote of Stouber, the predecessor of Oberlin. Upon his arrival at Walbach, he asked to see the school-house. He was conducted to a poor cottage, where he saw a crowd of children, doing nothing. He inquired for the master, and found him a feeble old man, lying on a bed in a corner. “What do you teach,” said he. “Nothing,” was the answer. “How happens that?” “I know nothing.” “What are you here for, then?” “Because I had grown too old and too weak to tend the pigs of the village any longer, and they put a younger and abler man

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in my place, and sent me here to take care of the children!” Mr. Goodrich, in the work before us, alludes to this story, and remarks, that it evinces a degree of stupidity not to be met with in this country; but, he adds, with great justice, that, “even here, there is a popular and prevalent notion, that anybody can be a schoolmaster.”

We would have the labors of education more highly estimated and better recompensed, not for the sake of those who are engaged in them, but for the sake of the public, and for the good of the whole community. There are no interests, and, while civilization remains, there can be no interests in human life, with which education is not directly involved. Indeed, it is capable of demonstration, if it be not rather too obvious to be stated, that there are none of these interests which do not greatly depend for their prosperity, for their sound and healthy prosperity, upon the manner in which the offices of education are filled and its duties performed. And it is plain, that if the profession of education,—the very phrase sounds awkwardly, although we speak of the profession of law, and the profession of medicine, without misgiving,—but if this profession were more honored, and more adequately rewarded, men of higher minds would be drawn into it, and all who were engaged in it would be roused if only by competition, to greater activity, and more watchful, more constant, and more successful endeavour.

It is a profession; it is one winch yields in importance, in its universality of interest, in its demand for the wisest efforts of the best understandings, to none. But it is exercised, and it is regarded, as a trade, and as a mechanic art. Until of late, no great department of human care employed so small a share of the attention or exertion of genius. The work went on according to certain rules, which were not originally well devised, and were usually applied with little or no inquiry into their meaning and fitness; and thus the labor of education became almost mechanical. Schools were provided, in which children might pass so many hours; during these hours, such and such books were to be committed to memory; and to ascertain whether this was done, at appointed times the scholars recited memoriter. We need hardly use the past tense, for just this is the case now in the majority ol our common schools; and if the calculating machine of Dr. Babbage could be altered, so as to register a recitation and

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note the blunders, it would be just such a master as most of these schools require.

Familiarity with the fact deadens our sense of its strangeness; but truly strange it is, that there should be so little discrimination as to the manner of teaching. History,—or what passes under that name,—science, language, are all taught in the same way as the multiplication table; taught as if there were no human faculty but memory. Poetry is read, sometimes with much regard to emphasis, and sufficient care that the right and left hands do their respective duties in the way of gesture; but the poetic sense, the imagination, vivid and sensitive in children, and demanding early and wise culture, is forgotten or unknown. Books, too, are constructed on the principle, that every thing is done when words are learned, and much ground nominally passed over. One may find a Philosophy “abridged, for the use of schools,” pretty much as an egg would be abridged by sucking out its contents; and “science made easy” simply by being made good for nothing.

These books are bad enough; but the evil cannot be wholly remedied by making better ones, because it arises in a great measure from the way in which school-books are used. There is hardly any one so bad that a good teacher might not make it useful; and none so good, as not to become worthless when ill used. The remedy is to be found in establishing new relations between the master and the pupils; in awaking the faculties, the higher faculties, of both; in producing an actual conviction in both, that the master needs and uses something more than his ears and his hands, and the child something more than his memory and his lips. Books are, in the present system, the principal instruments of education; they are the only actual educators; and the office of the master requires of him only to see that the books are used. We regard this as just about the reverse of what should be. By the help of discipline, the “master” may indeed deserve that name; but the idea that he should be also the “teacher” of the school, scarcely occurs in theory, and in practice it is sadly lost sight of. But successful education requires, as its first and indispensable condition, that the mind of the teacher, his whole mind, be wakeful, active, and earnest, and that the pupil be roused into sympathetic and responsive activity. Then, it may be doubted, whether books would need to be used so largely as at present; and it may

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be doubted also, whether school-books would not be made ior the use of the master rather than of the scholars. They would be text-books in the proper sense of that term; books intended to guide and aid the teacher in his instruction, but not to do the whole work in his stead. The Prussian school system (open as it is to many objections) is remarkable in this particular. The youngest classes use, literally, no books; the elder ones use them sparingly; and throughout the course of education, the principle seems to be acted upon, that the books are for the master, and that they should promote and facilitate, but by no means supersede his labors.

It may seem as if too much would be demanded of the master upon this system; more than he could do unless his school was very small; more than could be done for the whole community, unless schoolmasters were very numerous; and, if they were very numerous, this fact would prevent their receiving such compensation as could alone secure for this great interest the best endeavours of the best understandings. But discipline, and a wise system of action, would go far towards diminishing the necessity of personal labor in the care of a school; and we should rely confidently upon the assistance to be derived from a fact in the nature of children, little known and less used. We mean the fact of their sympathy with each other; of the immense influence which a child exerts upon a child; of the power by which one will excite, instruct, and expand the mind of another, without effort and without consciousness. The systems of Bell and Lancaster, founded empirically on this principle, astounded the world by their success; and, in despite of the large admixture in them of quackery and folly, they have retained, in a great degree, their hold upon public opinion, because, wherever they are tried, the results they produce, whatever may be thought of their value, are indisputable and surprising. The improvement of education will reach this matter also; and a system of mutual instruction will be in time devised, by which the ill effects of the first experiments will be avoided, while all the good, and much more than all which they effected or promised, will be realized.

It is from no wish to discourage efforts to improve education, nor is it from any want of hope in the practicability of this improvement, or any feebleness in our conviction that the improvement is needed, that we venture to suggest, that there

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should be great caution in the changes which this improvement implies, greater than will always be used; and therefore we must expect some errors,—not the less errors, because they are the opposites of other errors,—which will require, in the friends of education, patience, skill, and perseverance.

Some of the faults in education are so great and so obvious, that, the moment general attention is drawn to them, the zealous will rush into the opposite extreme. For instance, a short time ago it was not even suspected, that a child could be made to acquire book-knowledge too soon, or in excess. A bright boy was urged to learn, and then to show off; and it occurred to few, if to any, that either his heart or his head could be hurt by this process. This was an error, a most gross error; to be paralleled by nothing but the custom, which certain travellers tell of, in the kingdom of Borneo, where beauty and obesity being considered identical, young ladles who give promise of peculiar attractiveness are crammed into perfection with boiled rice and suet. But the cramming system, whether of mind or body, can flourish only where there is still a considerable measure of barbarism. When any one, who is capable of thinking, attends at all to this subject, it is seen at once that the forcing culture of the understanding is bad in every respect. It is bad for the bright boy; for it cultivates his mind without preserving due proportion among its faculties; it strains and overtasks him, disease of mind or of body are produced, his health withers away, and his acquirements are converted into food for his vanity. With the dull boy, it is as bad. Faculties, which by a wise culture might be developed and gradually strengthened into vigor and activity, are crushed into hopeless debility, and he hates learning through life, as one hates an instrument of torture. This was easily seen; and the more easily, because a corresponding change of opinion in regard to the value of learning was taking place in the world at large. Some centuries ago, learning was rare and difficult; it required great devotion to its pursuit to overcome the obstacles which lay in the way; and, when they were overcome, the scholar became one of a small class. He had powers and implements which others had not; and he was regarded with an admiration, which was none the less sincere, and sometimes none the less acceptable, because it was for the

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most part blind and ignorant. But the press, combined with other causes, has made learning cheap and accessible. It gives no longer so great an actual, nor so great an imaginary superiority. The character of the age demands action and result as the proof of power. And he who possesses “erudition,” without the power of turning it to account in the way of actual utility, has much the same sort of respect paid to him which we feel for Dominie Samson.

But has not this change gone too far; or rather, is it not beginning to go too far, both in school and out of school? We hear so much, now-a-days, about the “whole man,” and the like, that the very phraseology begins to excite disgust; it affects one like slang words. Learning alone, we admit, may be of no great value; but the worth of learning, as a means and instrument, is infinite, and its necessity for the best efforts of the best faculties of the human understanding is absolute and unconditional. Most true it is, that education has greatly erred in placing amount of acquisition before the culture of the faculties; most true it is, that a change in this respect was needed; but it is also true, that we cannot duly exercise and strengthen the faculties but by means of learning, and that a healthy, vigorous, well-proportioned, and well-disciplined mind, wholly without learning, (if such a thing could be supposed,) would be oppressed and paralyzed by its penury.

It is time, however, that we speak of Mr. Goodrich’s book; for it is quite too good to be made merely an occasion for remarks on education. Without protending to great originality, or a profound and searching inquiry after concealed truths, it gives, in clear and often forcible language, the results of much consideration and experience. The author is wise enough to know, that the faults in domestic education are not to be attributed to the want of known truths and principles; but to the fact, that these truths and principles are not enough considered, and often enough remembered. And in this volume he brings together views, suggestions, and advice, which embody a great amount of practical wisdom on this important subject, with a very small proportion of error. It was evidently the design of the writer to make a useful book; and he has succeeded. Of the importance of domestic education he speaks thus;

“Let us go forward to the period of youth. The mother holds the reins of the soul; the father sways the dominion of

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the intellect. I do not affirm, that there is an exact or complete division of empire between the parents. Both exert a powerful influence over the mind and heart. I mean only to state generally, that the natural power of the mother is exercised rather over the affections, and that of the father over the mind. It is a blended sway, and if exerted in unison it has the force of destiny. There may he cases in which children may seem to set parental authority at defiance; but these instances, if they actually occur, are rare, and may be regarded as exceptions, which are said to prove the rule. Remember the impressible character of youth, and consider its relation to the parent. ls not the one like the fused metal, and has not the other the power to impress upon it an image ineffaceable as the die upon steel? Nay, is it not matter of fact, attested by familiar observation, that children come forth from the hands of their parents stamped with a character that seldom deserts them in after life? Are they not impressed with manners, tastes, habits, and opinions, which circumstances irmy modify, but never efface? If the countenance of the child often bears the semblance of the father or mother, do we not still more frequently discover in the offspring the moral impress of the parent?

“Is it not true, then, that parents are the lawgivers of their children? Does not a mother’s counsel, does not a father’s example, cling to the memory, and haunt us through life? Do we not often find ourselves subject to habitual trains of thought, and if we seek tosjiscover the origin of these, are we not insensibly led back, by some beaten and familiar track, to the paternal threshold?”—pp. 68-70.

“The fireside, then, is a seminary of infinite importance. It is important, because it is universal, and because the education it bestows, being woven in with the woof of childhood, gives form and color to the whole texture of life. There are few who can receive the honors of a college, but all are graduates of the hearth. The learning of the university may fade from the recollection; its classic lore may moulder in the halls of memory. But the simple lessons of home, enamelled upon the heart of childhood, defy the rust of years, and outlive the more mature but less vivid pictures of after days. So deep, so lasting, indeed, are the impressions of early life, that you often see a man in the imbecility of age holding fresh in his recollection the events of childhood, while all the wide space between that and the present hour b a blasted and forgotten waste.”—pp. 71, 72.

In the following passage, Mr. Goodrich speaks of follies that are unhappily far too prevalent.

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“I will venture to make another suggestion to parents, which is the more important from the fact, that selfishness sometimes puts on the guise of virtue, and deceives even those who are concerned in the trick. There are parents, who, from the ambition to have their children shine, stimulate them by base excitements to exertion, thus sacrificing the purity of the heart, and often the health of the body. There are parents, who, from a frivolous vanity, dress their children in an extravagant manner; thus tarnishing the youthful spirit with the same paltry vice which sways themselves. There are some people, who are flattered if their children appear precocious, and these usually attempt to make them prodigies.

“I once knew a mother who was possessed with this insane ambition in respect to an only child. This was a little boy, of bright intellect, but feeble constitution. There was, by nature, a tendency to a premature development of the mental faculties, and this dangerous predisposition was seconded by all the art and influence of the mother. The consequence was, that while the boy’s head grew rapidly, and at last became enormous, his limbs became shrunken and almost useless. His mind too advanced, and at the age of eight years he was indeed a prodigy. At ten he died, and his mother, who was a literary lady, performed the task of writing and publishing his biography. In all this, she seemed to imagine, that she was actuated by benevolent motives, and never appeared to suspect the truth, plain and obvious to others, that this child was as truly sacrificed by a mother’s selfishness to the demon of vanity, as the Hindoo infant, given by its mother to the god of the Ganges, is immolated on the altar of superstition. Let parents beware, then, how they permit their own selfishness, their own vanity or ambition, to lead them into the sacrifice of their children’s happiness. Let it be remembered that premature fruit never ripens well, and that precocious children are usually inferior men or women. Parents, therefore, should be afraid of prodigies. Nothing is in worse taste than for parents to show off their children as remarkably witty, or as remarkable, indeed, for any thing. Good breeding teaches every one to avoid display, and well-bred parents, will never offend by making puppets of their children in gratification of their own vanity.

“There are other mistakes into which parents are led by selfishness, which assumes the semblance of disinterestedness. Thus, in the choice of a profession, and in marking out the plan of life for a child, a parent frequently consults rather his own ambition than the real interest of his offspring. In educating him, he takes care to cultivate those powers which en-

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able him to command wealth, rather than those which insure peace of mind. He excites him to effort by emulation, rather than by a sense of duty; he infuses into him a love of high places, rather than a love of his fellow-men. And what is all this, but the immolation of a child on the altar of ambition by a parent’s hands? a sacrifice rendered still more odious by the hypocrisy of the pretence, that it is for the benefit of the victim.”—pp. 80-83.

The truth and propriety of the following passage will be admitted by all who have observed the faults to which children are most liable.

“There is another still more disagreeable exhibition of selfishness among boys in their treatment of girls. They are often exceedingly tyrannical, rude, contemptuous, and even cruel, towards the gentler sex of their own age. This demands the assiduous correction of the parent. The claims of the weaker upon the stronger sex for scrupulous justice and chivalrous protection ought to be inculcated and enforced, especially by mothers, from the earliest periods of boyhood. If this is not done, there is danger that the selfishness of the boy, which displays itself in a rude exercise of his power, may increase with the advance of years, and at manhood lead him to treat woman, though it may be in a more gallant guise, according to the dictates of caprice, rather than those of justice.”—p. 100.

On the other hand, in the following paragraph Mr. Goodrich expresses a common opinion on the subject of punishment, which we believe to be a common error.

“But, after all that may be done, it is impossible to lay down rules on this subject that will answer for every case. We may remark of punishment in general, as of physic; Use it as seldom as possible, but when necessary, take a sure dose.”—p. 126.

By “sure dose,” of course he means a large dose. Now many a man has suffered sadly from the doctrine, “Take medicine as seldom as possible; but when you do, be sure to take enough.” And nothing would be easier, than to affect a child injuriously and permanently by excessive punishment, following at once upon long and patient forbearance. We believe punishments of some kind and measure to be very frequently necessary; tokens, often slight, that obedience must be rendered. But we also hold, that severe punishment is very seldom necessary, and very seldom indeed, unless through the fault of the master. Punishment need not

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be corporal punishment. Yet it is a sad mistake to suppose that other modes of punishment are necessarily milder and safer. It is easy to hurt a child, body and soul, more than could be done by any supposable flagellation. We never heard of a boy’s dying under his master’s hand; but we have known an instance, and have heard of more, where children were frightened, by solitary and dark imprisonment, into convulsions and idiocy.

In a chapter on Religion, Mr. Goodrich speaks of it as an indispensable element of all education. The strength and universality of the testimony, which is now borne to this principle, are most remarkable. Professor Stowe, in his very interesting Report, stated that his inquiries on this subject extended to “all classes of teachers, and men of every grade of religious faith, instructers in common schools, high schools, and schools of art, of professors in colleges, universities, and professional seminaries, in cities and in the country, in places where there was a uniformity, and in places where there was a diversity of creeds, of believers and unbelievers, of rationalists and enthusiasts, of Catholics and Protestants, and I never found,” he adds, “but one reply; and that was,—that the Bible is in itself the best book that can be put into the hands of children, to interest, to exercise, and to unfold their intellectual and moral powers.”

Victor Cousin’s Report on Education in Prussia, fully confirms this. It contains a particular account of the principal schools of various kinds in that kingdom, and of the studies pursued and the books used; and in none of them is the Bible omitted. And we could offer, from works upon education in Kngland and Scotland, and in this country, evidence, that the same principle, and the same practice, are coming into general acceptation there, and are beginning to be recognised here.

The work on “Home Education,” by the well-known author of “The History of Enthusiasm,” “Physical Theory of another Life,” and other similar works, will perhaps sustain his reputation for vigor of thought and of expression; but his faults are as conspicuous in this as in his former writings. He is frequently vivid and forcible, both in language and in meaning; but his occasional extravagance indicates a warm temperament, a fully sufficient confidence in his own

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opinions, and a habit of deriving them from theory and speculation, rather than from practice und observation. He is also, and quite too often, liable to the charge of indefiniteness and obscurity, and suggests the suspicion, that he did not himself see clearly what he wished to say, and purposely wrapped up his thoughts in glittering clouds. These defects are peculiarly objectionable in a work intended to be practical, and of which the subject is education. Still, this work will not be without its interest and value to those who are disposed to study it; although, for practical purposes and general use, it is inferior to that of Mr. Goodrich. In one respect, the contrast between them is instructive. It is, however, a contrast, not so much between these particular works, as between English writers on education, generally, and American writers on the same subject. We allude to the manner in which the subject of discipline is treated,—the word being taken in the sense of coercion.

We should do injustice to Mr. Goodrich, if we did not admit, that he states very clearly the necessity of coercion. It is, indeed, seldom the fault of our American works on education, that they neglect to urge this with much emphasis. But while English educational books assume, at once, that this necessity always exists and is always acknowledged, American writers argue the question out, as if the prevailing habits of the country threw the burden of proof upon all who lake this ground. English writers rarely make any direct mention of the need of enforcing obedience by compulsory means until it becomes habitual; but it is always plain, that this principle enters into all their systems of education, and is but little dwelt upon because it is always understood; while Americans write as if their readers would supply no omission on the subject of discipline, or its basis, obedience, and the whole matter must, therefore, be set forth in its length and breadth. They discuss the subject much as if they could do nothing in relation to it, until they had overcome an habitual fear or distrust of every thing which savours of compulsion; while their transatlantic fellow-laborers rest on the supposition, that all civilized men know the value of obedience, and the necessity of enforcing it by compulsory means, and that the common feeling on this subject sustains any doctrine respecting it, if it be, in itself, practicable and wise. This contrast is instructive upon an interesting point in

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the character of our countrymen. As our democratic institutions differ entirely from all those where the possession of power ascends by an acknowledged gradation of ranks, from the lowest, who have none, to the highest, who are regarded as the fountain of all, they cannot but exert an influence upon individual character, not yet developed, and not yet appreciated; perhaps not yet suspected.

The manifestation of this influence meets us in its effect upon the relation between the young and the old, the child and the parent, the scholar and the master. These relations have not, with us, the definiteness or the power, which they exhibit and exert in monarchical countries. There, all men feel and live as under authority; here, as the source of authority; there, as subjects; here, as sovereigns. Hence the principle of obedience, in all its forms and influences, is weaker here. And it is an irresistible inference from the whole constitution of human nature, that our institutions, which lay upon the citizen a lighter hand than ever before rested on the subjects of human government, must needs relax the rigor of discipline, of constrained order, of obedience, everywhere and in every way.

This circumstance imposes a peculiar duty upon all who are engaged in the work of education. If “order is heaven’s first law,” or any law of heaven, and of every thing on earth which is not the opposite of heaven, obedience is the indispensable prerequisite of order; and it is the only foundation upon which order can rest securely. If, then, the master, or teacher, or parent, would give to those whose future welfare is intrusted to him, a hold upon any thing good, he will teach them obedience; he will teach them the wisdom and the good of obedience; and he will fasten it upon them by jpractice and habit, until its living roots go deep into the central affections and principles of life.

But at least equal care needs to be taken, in respect to the quality of this obedience. If it be slavish and dead; if it be mechanical only; if it be nothing more than the evidence and effect of a pressure which has overcome all elasticity of spirit; if it belong wholly to the outside, and have no origin and no support but fear; then is there no good in it, and no good will come from it. Having no conformity with the institutions of the country, or with our prevailing habits, it will make the man unfit for them. He will be a

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fearful and enfeebled being, shaken by every adverse breath; or he will cast his fears aside, and thenceforth have no other thought of obedience, than as of one of the pains and terrors of of childhood. Hence, the problem, which is to be solved, demands the reconcilement of all that is good in obedience, with all that is good in freedom. We live under institutions which promise an expansion, a growth and free developement of the elements of humanity, moral and intellectual, that the past has never seen, and the present knows not yet wisely to hope for. Great mistakes will doubtless be made, and the progress must be one of ebb and flow. It is certain, however, that the prevailing system of education should conform to the exigencies of the country; should acknowledge the duty of supplying its demands; and should, therefore, with the perpetual improvement that comes from watchful experience, endeavour to lay the foundations of universal order, deep in the universal habit of willing obedience.

This subject demands the attention of all who are intrusted, in any form or measure, with education, for a reason which is not generally regarded. And this is, the influence of obedience as a means of intellectual culture. Its necessity for moral discipline, few deny; but its utility in respect to the understanding, is equally certain. Whatever instruction is given, whatever truth is taught, relates either to the mind alone and is of a scientific nature, or it relates to motive, conduct, and life, and therefore connects itself, more or less directly, with the affections; that is to say, all instruction concerns the thought only, or it concerns the thought and the will together. Now, when we are speaking of obedience, we include in our meaning, not only compliance with command, but self-copntrol, and conformity with the just requirement of circumstances, and a yielding of one’s will to the right, however that be ascertained and expressed; for all this can be secured and made an integral part of the character, only by early and regular habits of obedience. The utility of all this, in in the study of merely scientific truth, is as certain and as obvious, as the utility of peaceful, undisturbed, sustained attention. But the other half of intellectual instruction,—that which touches upon morals and duty, and the relations of social life, and the principles of self- government, or which, in other words, regards the education of the affections through the understanding, and thus the formation of

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the character,—demands no less all the assistance which it can derive from the salutary influence of obedience. We believe that this subject, in its widest extent, would well repay investigation. The text, “If any one will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine,” expresses one of the vital truths of human nature; the truth, namely, that our ability to know aright, any matter, which touches upon conduct and motive and duty, depends greatly upon our moral condition in relation to it; and this principle bears directly upon education.

There was once an attempt, by some philosophers, to persuade men, that understanding and belief were wholly independent of affection and motive, and the state of the will; and, although this folly has disappeared, the opposite truth is hardly appreciated. The strong tendency of these days to found all obedience to law or command upon a previous satisfaction with its propriety, is one expression of this falsity. It is often just the wrong way; and especially is it wrong when applied to the education of the young. A rule, a law, or command, is necessary for the very reason that something is to be done which is not desired. If, in this state of the case, we begin to reason about it, all views or arguments which can be offered in favor of the law, encounter not only an adverse inclination, but the belief, that, if a conviction of the reasonableness of the law be successfully resisted,—of course it always may be by dulness or inattention,—the law will lose its power, the command will not he enforced, and the inclination may be indulged. Let this course be pursued, and there never lived the child who could estimate aright the truths thus offered for his consideration. He cannot but look at them through a disturbing medium; and the oftener this happens, the worse will be the habit of his mind. It is the demand, therefore, not of kindness only, but of justice, to draw this veil aside, and release him from its obstruction. Let him obey,—let him begin with obedience,—and he stands at once in a new position. Then, his reasoning powers are not called upon to act at a disadvantage; they have at least fair play; and they have also the aid of experience, which will often, perhaps generally, speak audibly in favor of the right. It is neither wise nor safe to say, in theory or in practice, that we will not resort to constrained obedience, because we trust to truth, to reason, and to conscience; for then is truth not aided, but disturbed and shackled,

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and reason is confounded and obscured, and conscience exposed to certain injury, and to the danger of decay and death. We have dwell the more on this subject, because we would willingly induce others, who have the means for further and fuller investigation, to give their attention to what we deem the important principle,—that obedience is among the most essential requisites for the highest and most valuable culture of the understanding.

Nor is this subject without its importance to American education, considered under its political aspect. The child’s obedience to rule, or to command, becomes the man’s obedience to law; and still retains its quality and all its characteristics. It was once said,—with more justice, we fear, than would belong to the saying now,—that this country was distinguished from all others, by the fact, that law, as such, and for its own sake, and its own power, is here held in reverence. When this can be no longer said will) any truth, corruption will have done all its work, and resistance to coemption will have ceased; and one symptom, that this melancholy consummation is more than a remote possibility, may be found in the prevailing disposition to subject all public laws to the tribunal of individual opinion. It is not enough, that they should be the expression of the public opinion, uttered by its appointed organs. It is not enough, that each man holds in common with all others the right of bringing his opinion and his feeling to bear; upon the original structure and enactment of the law through our republican institutions. It is not enough, that every man not only possesses this right, but is bound to exercise this right, to the very end that the law may thus reflect the general sentiment and enforce the general wish; but a growing and almost prevailing disposition now permits the individual thereafter to submit the law to his private judgment or personal inclination, and ask of that, as of the court of ultimate sovereignty, whether the law is, for him, a law. Let this habit go on, and acquire the sanction of general usage, and nothing will remain for the country, and the whole fabric of its government, but to be swept away as a cumberer of the earth. We believe, that in this disposition lies one of the greatest dangers to which we are exposed; and we believe also, that this disposition is to be checked first, and most successfully, in childhood. Then, if education recognises the duty, the necessity, of obedience; if it

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places this upon its true ground, and enforces it, not with fretful anger, nor with the tyrannous violence of mere love of power, but with the mildness and the firmness of unfailing affection, and associates it indissolubly in the minds of children with all progress, all safely, all happiness, then, and then only, will the children of this republic be fated to become its citizens, and hold in their hands its destiny. Nor is this a work to be done in the schools only; on the contrary, it is precisely that in which our schools and our homes should unite.

The subject of Domestic Education, as distinct from School Education, is of great magnitude and moment; but we do not propose to enter upon it at this time. Indeed, whatever can be said of it, is perhaps comprised or implied in the principle, that the school is better in proportion as it is a home, and the home is better in proportion as it becomes a school. They are two; not two places only, but two in organisation and in character, and the difference between them is not to be lost sight of. Nevertheless, they are one in the end which lies before them; for this is the education, the leading forth, of all the physical, intellectual, and moral powers, into fulness of stature, and strength, and health, and into the utmost capacity of enjoying the happiness of usefulness.

In these things they are one; and, while the patient kindness, the warmth and tenderness, of an affection like that of parents should fill the school with sunshine, and make its laws only the expression of its love, the home cannot fail in discipline and order, without mournful consequences, which no school can avert or remedy. One of the pictures of Shakspeare represents the schoolboy as creeping unwillingly to school. Like all his pictures this is true to nature, to the nature he drew from; but it is, in this instance at least, a false and injured nature, for not one jot of reason is there in the thing itself, why the child should go unwillingly to school, more than there is why he should go unwillingly from his school to his home, or to his play. What is a school? It is a place for moral discipline and for intellectual instruction. Now, most true it is, that no child ever lived who did not, as he grew up, manifest tendencies and feelings which required rebuke, opposition, and constraint; and the school is me place for this; but it is not the only nor the chief place for

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it. If all constraint is at once relaxed when the child leaves the school; if he hreaks from its thraldom into full license the moment he goes to Ins play; if, amid his fellows, or under the paternal roof, he is unwatched, unrestrained, unrebuked for evil deeds, little can his school do for him, and weighty and fearful is the responsibility of his parents. In point of moral discipline, therefore, the school should be no bugbear. And as to intellectual instruction, who has lived within the sight and hearing of a child, and does not know that he hungers and thirsts for knowledge? The babe of a week old seeks not its mother’s breast with sharper appetite, than will urge him, when infancy expands into childhood, to question, and question closely, father and mother and brother and sister, and everybody near him, about every limit in his sight or in his thought. This is the first and natural manifestation of the desire to know; and it is wise, though not very common, to follow this desire somewhat as a guide. It is often easy to silence it by a little impatience or contempt; but the desire is still there, always there, deeply implanted in our nature. Education is founded upon this desire; acts through it; and most grossly errs when it afflicts or disappoints it, and by so doing makes the school distasteful to the child, and compels him to regard it as a place of imprisonment and punishment. And hereafter, when, in the progress of mankind, schools become more what schools should be, the child will seek the school as the home of his mind; and there will his mind expand and grow, as flowers and fruits open and ripen in the sunshine, without pain and almost without effort. At present there are few such homes, and few such schools; and the hope, that such things may become realities, must abide the common fate of all aspirations which look far forward. But the sneer which may rebuke cannot extinguish this hope; for thitherward tends all improvement in education, and the progress of this improvement will measure the advancement of man.


Christian Examiner 26 (May 1839): 266-267.

This is an excellent book. We have read it with pleasure and profit, and we heartily recommend it. It is written with the author’s characteristic plainness, but yet in a manner to make it generally interesting. The necessary abstractions of a treatise upon intellectual and moral education are

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enlivened by stories, anecdotes, allegories, and quotations, which, while they illustrate the matter in hand, and give it point, lead the reader agreeably on his way, and allow him not to lay the book down till he has finished it. A spirit of religion, humanity, and genuine catholicism, worthy of all honor, breathes through the whole.

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