S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
I consider a human soul without education like marble in the quarry, which shows none of its inherent beauties until the skill of the polisher fetches out the colours, makes the surface shine, and discovers every ornamental cloud, spot, and vein that runs through the body of it. Education, after the same manner, when it works upon a noble mind, draws out to view every latent virtue and perfection, which without such helps are never able to make their appearance.
If my reader will give me leave to change the allusion so soon upon him, I shall make use of the same instance to illustrate the force of education, which Aristotle has brought to explain his doctrine of substantial forms, when he tells us that a statue lies hid in a block of marble, and that the art of the statuary only clears away the superfluous matter and removes the rubbish. The figure is in stone, the sculptor only finds it. What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to a human soul. The philosopher, the saint, or the hero, the wise, the good, or the great man, very often lie hid and concealed in a plebeian, which a proper education might have disinterred, and have brought to light.
Joseph Addison: Spectator, No. 215.
As I believe the English universities are the best places in the world for those who can profit by them, so I think for the idle and self-indulgent they are about the very worst.
Dr. Thomas Arnold.
The force of education is so great, that we may mould the minds and manners of the young into what shape we please, and give them the impressions of such habits as shall ever after remain.
The fruits of the earth do not more obviously require labour and cultivation to prepare them for our use and subsistence, than our faculties demand instruction and regulation in order to qualify us to become upright and valuable members of society, useful to others, or happy in ourselves.
There have been periods when the country heard with dismay that “The soldier was abroad.” That is not the case now. Let the soldier be abroad: in the present age he can do nothing. There is another person abroad,—a less important person in the eyes of some, an insignificant person, whose labours have tended to produce this state of things. The schoolmaster is abroad! And I trust more to him, aimed with his primer, than I do the soldier in full military array, for upholding and extending the liberties of his country.
Lord Brougham: Speech in House of Commons, Jan. 29, 1828.
How different from this manner of education is that which prevails in our own country, where nothing is more usual than to see forty or fifty boys of several ages, tempers, and inclinations, ranged together in the same class, employed upon the same authors, and enjoined the same tasks! Whatever their natural genius may be, they are all to be made poets, historians, and orators alike. They are all obliged to have the same capacity, to bring in the same tale of verse, and to furnish out the same amount of prose. Everybody is bound to have as good a memory as the captain of the form. To be brief, instead of adapting studies to the particular genius of a youth, we expect from the young man that he should adapt his genius to his studies. This, I must confess, is not so much to be imputed to the instructor, as to the parent, who will never be brought to believe that his son is not capable of performing as much as his neighbour’s, and that he may not make him whatever he has a mind to.
Eustace Budgell: Spectator, No. 307.
In short, a private education seems the most natural method for the forming of a virtuous man; a public education for making a man of business. The first would furnish out a good subject for Plato’s republic, the latter a member for a community overrun with artifice and corruption.
Eustace Budgell: Spectator, No. 313.
In short, nothing is more wanting to our public schools than that the masters of them should use the same care in fashioning the manners of their scholars as in forming their tongues to the learned languages. Wherever the former is omitted, I cannot help agreeing with Mr. Locke, that a man must have a very strange value for words, when, preferring the languages of the Greeks and Romans to that which made them such brave men, he can think it worth while to hazard the innocence and virtue of his son for a little Greek and Latin.
Eustace Budgell: Spectator, No. 337.
What is the education of the generality of the world? Reading a parcel of books? No. Restraint of discipline, emulation, examples of virtue and of justice, form the education of the world.
I too acknowledge the all but omnipotence of early culture and nurture; hereby we have either a doddered dwarf bush or a high-towering, wide-spreading tree! either a sick yellow cabbage, or an edible luxuriant green one. Of a truth it is the duty of all men, especially of all philosophers, to note down with accuracy the characteristic circumstances of their education,—what furthered, what hindered, what in any way modified it.
Whose school-hours are all the days and nights of our existence.
I have no sympathy whatever with those who would grudge our workmen and our common people the very highest acquisitions which their taste, or their time, or their inclinations, would lead them to realize; for next to the salvation of their souls, I certainly say that the object of my fondest aspirations is the moral and intellectual, and, as a sure consequence of this, the economical, advancement of the working classes,—the one object which of all others in the wide range of political speculation is the one which should be the dearest to the heart of every philanthropist and every patriot.
Dr. Thomas Chalmers.
It requires, also, a great deal of exercise to bring it [the mind] to a state of health and vigour. Observe the difference there is between minds cultivated and minds uncultivated, and you will, I am sure, think that you cannot take too much pains, nor employ too much of your time, in the culture of your own. A drayman is probably born with as good organs as Milton, Locke, or Newton; but, by culture, they are much more before him than he is above his horse. Sometimes, indeed, extraordinary geniuses have broken out by the force of nature, without the assistance of education; but those instances are too rare for anybody to trust to; and even they would make a much better figure if they had the advantage of education into the bargain.
Lord Chesterfield: Letters to his Son, April 1, 1748.
Thelwall thought it very unfair to influence a child’s mind by inculcating any opinions before it had come to years of discretion to choose for itself. I showed him my garden, and told him it was my botanical garden. “How so?” said he; “it is covered with weeds.” “Oh,” I replied, “that is only because it has not yet come to its age of discretion and choice. The weeds, you see, have taken the liberty to grow, and I thought it unfair in me to prejudice the soil towards roses and strawberries.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Who would be at the trouble of learning, when he finds his ignorance is caressed? But when you browbeat and maul them you make them men: for though they have no natural mettle, yet if they are spurred and kicked they will mend their pace.
In one of the notes to a former publication I have quoted an old writer, who observes that “we fatten a sheep with grass, not in order to obtain a crop of hay from his back, but in the hope that he will feed us with mutton and clothe us with wool.” We may apply this to the sciences: we teach a young man algebra, the mathematics, and logic, not that he should take his equations and his parallelograms into Westminster Hall, and bring his ten predicaments to the House of Commons, but that he should bring a mind to both these places so well stored with the sound principles of truth and reason as not to be deceived by the chicanery of the bar nor the sophistry of the senate. The acquirements of science may be termed the armour of the mind: but that armour would be worse than useless, that cost us all we had, and left us nothing to defend.
Charles Caleb Colton: Lacon.
That man is but of the lower part of the world that is not brought up to business and affairs.
In some who have run up to men without education we may observe many great qualities darkened and eclipsed: their minds are crusted over, like diamonds in the rock.
A very important principle in education, never to confine children long to any one occupation or place. It is totally against their nature, as indicated in all their voluntary exercises.
John Foster: Journal.
Interesting conversation with Mr. S. on education. Astonishment and grief at the folly, especially in times like the present, of those parents who totally forget, in the formation of their children’s habits, to inspire that vigorous independence which acknowledges the smallest possible number of wants, and so avoids or triumphs over the negation of a thousand indulgences, by always having been taught and accustomed to do without them. “How many things,” said Socrates, “I do not want!”
John Foster: Journal.
Our common education is not intended to render us good and wise, but learned: it hath not taught us to follow and embrace virtue and prudence, but hath imprinted in us their derivation and etymology; it hath chosen out for us not such books as contain the soundest and truest opinions, but those that speak the best Greek and Latin; and by these rules has instilled into our fancy the vainest humours of antiquity. But a good education alters the judgment and manners…. ’Tis a silly conceit that men without languages are also without understanding. It’s apparent, in all ages, that some such have been even prodigies for ability: for it’s not to be believed that wisdom speaks to her disciples only in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.
Thomas Fuller: The Holy and the Profane State.
Every man who rises above the common level receives two educations: the first from his instructors; the second, the most personal and important, from himself.
Edward Gibbon: Miscellaneous Works.
A boy will learn more true wisdom in a public school in a year, than by a private education in five. It is not from masters, but from their equals, youth learn a knowledge of the world: the little tricks they play each other, the punishment that frequently attends the commission, is a just picture of the great world; and all the ways of men are practised in a public school in miniature. It is true, a child is early made acquainted with some vices in a school; but it is better to know these when a boy, than be first taught them when a man; for their novelty then may have irresistible charms.
Until a more Christian spirit pervades the world, we are inclined to think that the study of the classics is, on the whole, advantageous to public morals, by inspiring an elegance of sentiment and an elevation of soul which we should in vain seek for elsewhere.
Robert Hall: Review of Foster’s Essays.
Some have objected to the instruction of the lower classes from an apprehension that it would lift them above their sphere, make them dissatisfied with their station in life, and, by impairing the habits of subordination, endanger the tranquillity of the state; an objection devoid surely of all force and validity. It is not easy to conceive in what manner instructing men in their duties can prompt them to neglect those duties, or how that enlargement of reason which enables them to comprehend the true grounds of authority and the obligation to obedience should indispose them to obey. The admirable mechanism of society, together with that subordination of ranks which is essential to its subsistence, is surely not an elaborate imposture which the exercise of reason will detect and expose. The objection we have stated implies a reflection on the social order, equally impolitic, invidious, and unjust. Nothing in reality renders legitimate governments so insecure as extreme ignorance in the people. It is this which yields them an easy prey to seduction, makes them the victims of prejudices and false alarms, and so ferocious withal that their interference in a time of public commotion is more to be dreaded than the eruption of a volcano.
Robert Hall: Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.
I am persuaded that the extreme profligacy, improvidence, and misery which are so prevalent among the labouring classes in many countries are chiefly to be ascribed to the want of education. In proof of this, we need only cast our eyes on the condition of the Irish compared with that of the peasantry of Scotland.
Robert Hall: Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.
Education and instruction are the means, the one by use, the other by precept, to make our natural faculty of reason both the better and the sooner to judge rightly between truth and error, good and evil.
A girl may be shown how to darn and how to patch, how to bake and how to brew, how to scrub and how to rub, how to buy penny-worths with pennies, and yet be sent out to the rich man a defective servant, and to the poor man an unthrifty uncomfortable wife. On the other hand, she may have received formal instruction in no one of these things, and yet he able to overcome every difficulty as it arises, by help of the spirit that has been put into her, and will not only soon do well, but will perpetually advance towards perfection in whatever ministry may be demanded of her by the circumstances of her future life. If she has been trained to live by How and Why,—always pouring down through these conductors, the whole energy of the mind upon the matter actually in hand,—she will surely make a wise wife or a clever servant.
We do not believe in great stupidity as a common natural gift. Doubtless, it sometimes is so; but, as seen among grown-up people, it is often artificial. The bad teacher complains of the pupil. There is a well-known instance of a girl who, at fifteen, was thought so stupid that her father despairingly abandoned the attempt to educate her. This girl was Elizabeth Carter, who lived to be, perhaps, the most learned woman that England has ever produced.
The general mistake among us in the educating our children is, that in our daughters we take care of their persons and neglect their minds; in our sons we are so intent upon adorning their minds that we wholly neglect their bodies. It is from this that you shall see a young lady celebrated and admired in all the assemblies about town, when her elder brother is afraid to come into a room. From this ill-management it arises that we frequently observe a man’s life is half spent before he is taken notice of; and a woman in the prime of her years is out of fashion and neglected.
John Hughes: Spectator, No. 66.
There is a branch of useful training which cannot be too heedfully regarded: I mean the education that children give themselves. Their observation is ever alive and awake to the circumstances which pass around them; and from the circumstances thus observed they are continually drawing their own conclusions. These observations and conclusions have a powerful influence in forming the character of youth. What is imparted in the way of direct instruction they are apt to consider as official; they receive it often with downright suspicion; generally, perhaps, with a sort of undefined qualification and reserve. It is otherwise with what children discover for themselves. As matter of self-acquisition, this is treasured up, and reasoned upon; it penetrates the mind, and influences the conduct, beyond all the formal lectures that ever were delivered. Whether it be for good, or whether it be for evil, the education of the child is principally derived from its own observation of the actions, the words, the voice, the looks, of those with whom it lives. The fact is unquestionably so; and since the fact is so, it is impossible, surely, that the friends of youth can be too circumspect in the youthful presence to avoid every (and the least appearance of) evil. This great moral truth was keenly felt, and powerfully inculcated, even in the heathen world. But the reverence for youth of Christian parents ought to reach immeasurably further. It is not enough that they set no bad example: it is indispensable that they show forth a good one. It is not enough that they seem virtuous: it is indispensable that they be so.
Bishop John Jebb.
Very few men are wise by their own counsel, or learned by their own teaching; for he that was only taught by himself had a fool to his master.
I think we may assert that in a hundred men there are more than ninety who are what they are, good or bad, useful or pernicious to society, from the instruction they have received. It is on education that depend the great differences observable among them. The least and most imperceptible impressions received in our infancy have consequences very important, and of a long duration. It is with these first impressions as with a river, whose waters we can easily turn, by different canals, in quite opposite courses; so that from the insensible direction the stream receives at its source, it takes different directions, and at last arrives at places far distant from each other; and with the same facility we may, I think, turn the minds of children to what direction we please.
In learning anything, as little should be proposed to the mind at once as is possible; and that being understood and fully mastered, proceed to the next adjoining, yet unknown, simple, unperplexed proposition belonging to the matter in hand, and tending to the clearing what is principally designed.
Could it be believed that a child should be forced to learn the rudiments of a language which he is never to use, and neglect the writing a good hand, and casting accounts?
Virtue and talents, though allowed their due consideration, yet are not enough to procure a man a welcome wherever he comes. Nobody contents himself with rough diamonds, or wears them so. When polished and set, then they give a lustre.
In education, most time is to be bestowed on that which is of the greatest consequence in the ordinary course and occurrences of that life the young man is designed for.
A child will learn three times as fast when he is in tune, as he will when he is dragged to his task.
The mischiefs that come by inadvertency or ignorance are but very gently to be taken notice of.
To make the sense of esteem or disgrace sink the deeper, and be of the more weight, either agreeable or disagreeable things should constantly accompany these different states.
Education begins the gentleman; but reading, good company, and reflection must finish him.
It is proposed that for every vacancy in the civil service four candidates shall be named; and the best candidate selected by examination. We conceive that under this system the persons sent out will he young men above par, young men superior either in talents or in diligence to the mass. It is said, I know, that examinations in Latin, in Greek, and in mathematics are no tests of what men will prove to be in life. I am perfectly aware that they are not infallible tests; but that they are tests I confidently maintain. Look at every walk of life, at this house, at the other house, at the Bar, at the Bench, at the Church, and see whether it be not true that those who attain high distinction in the world were generally men who were distinguished in their academic career. Indeed, Sir, this objection would prove far too much even for those who use it. It would prove that there is no use at all in education. Why should we put boys out of their way? Why should we force a lad who would much rather fly a kite or trundle a hoop to learn his Latin Grammar? Why should we keep a young man to his Thucydides or his Laplace when he would much rather be shooting? Education would be mere useless torture if at two or three and twenty a man who had neglected his studies were exactly on a par with a man who had applied himself to them, exactly as likely to perform all the offices of public life with credit to himself and with advantage to society. Whether the English system of education be good or bad is not now the question. Perhaps I may think that too much time is given to the ancient languages and to the abstract sciences. But what then? Whatever be the languages, whatever be the sciences, which it is in any age or country the fashion to teach, the persons who become the greatest proficients in those languages and those sciences will generally be the flower of the youth, the most acute, the most industrious, the most ambitious of honourable distinctions. If the Ptolemaic system were taught at Cambridge instead of the Newtonian, the senior wrangler would nevertheless be in general a superior man to the wooden spoon. If instead of learning Greek we learned the Cherokee, the man who understood the Cherokee best, who made the most correct and melodious Cherokee verses, who comprehended most accurately the effect of the Cherokee particles, would generally be a superior man to him who was destitute of these accomplishments. If astrology were taught at our Universities, the young man who cast nativities best would generally turn out a superior man. If alchemy were taught, the young man who showed most activity in the pursuit of the philosopher’s stone would generally turn out a superior man.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Speech on the Government of India, July 10, 1833.
We cannot wish that any work or class of works which has exercised a great influence on the human mind, and which illustrates the character of an important epoch in letters, politics, and morals, should disappear from the world. If we err in this matter, we err with the greatest men and bodies of men in the empire, and especially with the Church of England, and with the great schools of learning which are connected with her. The whole liberal education of our countrymen is conducted on the principle that no book which is valuable, either by reason of the excellence of its style, or by reason of the light which it throws on the history, polity, and manners of nations, should be withheld from the student on account of its impurity. The Athenian Comedies, in which there are scarcely a hundred lines together without some passage of which Rochester would have been ashamed, have been reprinted at the Pitt Press and the Clarendon Press, under the direction of syndics and delegates appointed by the Universities, and have been illustrated with notes by reverend, very reverend, and right reverend commentators. Every year the most distinguished young men in the kingdom are examined by bishops and professors of divinity in such works as the Lysistrata of Aristophanes and the Sixth Satire of Juvenal. There is certainly something a little ludicrous in the idea of a conclave of venerable fathers of the church praising and rewarding a lad on account of his intimate acquaintance with writings compared with which the loosest tale in Prior is modest. But, for our own part, we have no doubt that the great societies which direct the education of the English gentry have herein judged wisely. It is unquestionable that an extensive acquaintance with ancient literature enlarges and enriches the mind. It is unquestionable that a man whose mind has been thus enlarged and enriched is likely to be far more useful to the state and to the church than one who is unskilled, or little skilled, in classical learning. On the other hand, we find it difficult to believe that, in a world so full of temptation as this, any gentleman whose life would have been virtuous if he had not read Aristophanes and Juvenal will be made vicious by reading them. A man who, exposed to all the influences of such a state of society as that in which we live, is yet afraid of exposing himself to the influences of a few Greek or Latin verses, acts, we think, much like the felon who begged the sheriffs to let him have an umbrella held over his head from the door of Newgate to the gallows, because it was a drizzling morning and he was apt to take cold. The virtue which the world wants is a healthful virtue, not a valetudinarian virtue, a virtue which can expose itself to the risks inseparable from all spirited exertion, not a virtue which keeps out of the common air for fear of infection and eschews the common food as too stimulating. It would be indeed absurd to attempt to keep men from acquiring those qualifications which fit them to play their part in life with honour to themselves and advantage to their country for the sake of preserving a delicacy which cannot be preserved, a delicacy which a walk from Westminster to the Temple is sufficient to destroy.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Comic Dramatists of the Restoration, Jan. 1841.
I believe, Sir, that it is the right and the duty of the State to provide means of education for the common people. This proposition seems to me to be implied in every definition that has ever yet been given of the functions of a government. About the extent of those functions there has been much difference of opinion among ingenious men. There are some who hold that it is the business of a government to meddle with every part of the system of human life, to regulate trade by bounties and prohibitions, to regulate expenditure by sumptuary laws, to regulate literature by a censorship, to regulate religion by an inquisition. Others go to the opposite extreme, and assign to government a very narrow sphere of action. But the very narrowest sphere that ever was assigned to governments by any school of political philosophy is quite wide enough for my purpose. On one point all the disputants are agreed. They unanimously acknowledge that it is the duty of every government to take order for giving security to the persons and property of the members of the government.
This being admitted, can it be denied that the education of the common people is a most effectual means of securing our persons and our property?
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Speech on Education, April 18, 1847.
This, then, is my argument: It is the duty of government to protect our persons and property from danger. The gross ignorance of the common people is a principal cause of danger to our persons and property. Therefore it is the duty of the government to take care that the common people shall not be grossly ignorant. And what is the alternative? It is universally admitted that, by some means, government must protect our persons and property. If you take away education, what means do you leave? You leave means such as only necessity can justify, means which inflict a fearful amount of pain, not only on the guilty, but on the innocent who are connected with the guilty. You leave guns and bayonets, stocks and whipping-posts, treadmills, solitary cells, penal colonies, gibbets. See, then, how the case stands. Here is an end which, as we all agree, governments are bound to attain. There are only two ways of attaining it. One of these ways is by making men better and wiser and happier. The other way is by making them infamous and miserable. Can it be doubted which way we ought to prefer? Is it not strange, is it not almost incredible, that pious and benevolent men should gravely propound the doctrine that the magistrate is bound to punish and at the same time bound not to teach? To me it seems quite clear that whoever has a right to hang has a right to educate. Can we think without shame and remorse that more than half of those wretches who have been tied up at Newgate in our time might have been living happily, that more than half of those who are now in our gaols might have been enjoying liberty and using that liberty well, that such a hell as Norfolk Island need never have existed, if we had expended in training honest men but a small part of what we have expended in hunting and torturing rogues?
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Speech on Education, April 18, 1847.
I say, therefore, that the education of the people is not only a means, but the best means, of obtaining that which all allow to be a chief end of government; and, if this be so, it passes my faculties to understand how any man can gravely contend that government has nothing to do with the education of the people.
My confidence in my judgment is strengthened when I recollect that I hold that opinion in common with all the greatest lawgivers, statesmen, and political philosophers of all nations and ages, with all the most illustrious champions of civil and spiritual freedom, and especially with those men whose names were once held in the highest veneration by the Protestant Dissenters of England. I might cite many of the most venerable names of the Old World; but I would rather cite the example of that country which the supporters of the Voluntary system here are always recommending to us as a pattern. Go back to the days when the little society which has expanded into the opulent and enlightened commonwealth of Massachusetts began to exist. Our modern Dissenters will scarcely, I think, venture to speak contumeliously of those Puritans whose spirit Laud and his High Commission Court could not subdue, of those Puritans who were willing to leave home and kindred, and all the comforts and refinements of civilized life, to cross the ocean, to fix their abode in forests among wild beasts and wild men, rather than commit the sin of performing in the house of God one gesture which they believed to be displeasing to Him. Did those brave exiles think it inconsistent with civil or religious freedom that the State should take charge of the education of the people? No, Sir: one of the earliest laws enacted by the Puritan colonists was that every township, as soon as the Lord had increased it to the number of fifty houses, should appoint one to teach all children to read and write, and that every township of a hundred houses should set up a grammar school. Nor have the descendants of those who made this law ever ceased to hold that the public authorities were bound to provide the means of public instruction. Nor is this doctrine confined to New England. “Educate the people” was the first admonition addressed by Penn to the colony which he founded. “Educate the people” was the legacy of Washington to the nation which he had saved. “Educate the people” was the unceasing exhortation of Jefferson: and I quote Jefferson with peculiar pleasure, because of all the eminent men that have ever lived, Adam Smith himself not excepted, Jefferson was the one who most abhorred everything like meddling on the part of governments. Yet the chief business of his later years was to establish a good system of State education in Virginia.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Speech on Education, April 18, 1847.
A great part of the education of every child consists of those impressions, visual and other, which the senses of the little being are taking in busily, though unconsciously, amid the scenes of their first exercise; and though all sorts of men are born in all sorts of places,—poets in town, and prosaic men amid fields and woody solitudes,—yet, consistently with this, it is also true that much of the original capital on which all men trade intellectually through life consists of that mass of miscellaneous fact and imagery which they have acquired imperceptibly by the observations of their early years.
Professor David Masson.
And for the usual method of teaching arts, I deem it to be an old error of universities, not yet well recovered from the scholastic grossness of barbarous ages, that instead of beginning with arts most easy (and those be such as are most obvious to the sense) they present their young unmatriculated novices at first coming with the most intellective abstractions of logic and metaphysics.
The main skill and groundwork will be to temper them such lectures and explanations, upon every opportunity, as may lead and draw them in willing obedience.
Now will be the right season of forming them to be able writers, when they shall be thus fraught with an universal insight into things.
A complete and generous education fits a man to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously all the offices of peace and war.
The only true conquests—those which awaken no regret—are those obtained over ignorance. The most honourable, as the most useful, pursuit of nations is that which contributes to the extension of human intellect. The real greatness of the French Republic ought henceforth to consist in the acquisition of the whole sum of human knowledge, and in not allowing a single new idea to exist which does not owe its birth to their exertions.
Napoleon I.: To the French Institute.
Education, in the more extensive sense of the word, may comprehend every preparation that is made in our youth for the sequel of our lives.
Where education has been entirely neglected, or improperly managed, we see the worst passions ruling with uncontrolled and incessant sway. Good sense degenerates into craft, and anger rankles into malignity. Restraint, which is thought most salutary, comes too late, and the most judicious admonitions are urged in vain.
Dr. Samuel Parr.
Of all the blessings which it has pleased Providence to allow us to cultivate, there is not one which breathes a purer fragrance, or bears a heavenlier aspect, than education. It is a companion which no misfortunes can depress—no clime destroy—no enemy alienate—no despotism enslave—at home a friend—abroad an introduction—in solitude a solace—in society an ornament—it chastens vice—it guides virtue—it gives at once a grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave! A reasoning savage! Vacillating between the dignity of an intelligence derived from God and the degradations of passions participated with brutes, and, in the accident of their alternate ascendency, shuddering at the terrors of an hereafter, or hugging the horrid hope of annihilation.
Begin the education of the heart not with the cultivation of noble propensities, but with the cutting away of those which are evil. When once the noxious herbs are withered and rooted out, then the more noble plants, strong in themselves, will shoot upwards. The virtuous heart, like the body, becomes strong and healthy more by labour than nourishment.
Jean Paul F. Richter.
Were one to point out a method of education, one could not, methinks, frame one more pleasing or improving than this: where the children get a habit of communicating their thoughts and inclinations to their best friend with so much freedom that he can form schemes for their future life and conduct from an observation of their tempers, and by that means be early enough in choosing their way of life to make them forward in some art or science at an age when others have not determined what profession to follow.
Sir Richard Steele: Tatler, No. 189.
All nations have agreed in the necessity of a strict education which consisted in the observance of moral duties.
You cannot but have observed what a violent run there is among … weak people against university education.
Those of better fortune, not making learning their maintenance, take degrees with little improvement.
Men are miserable if their education hath been so undisciplined as to leave them unfurnished of skill to spend their time; but most miserable if such misgovernment and unskilfulness make them fall into vicious company.
In learning anything, as little as possible should be proposed to the mind at first.
Dr. Isaac Watts.
Costly apparatus and splendid cabinets have no magical power to make scholars. As a man is in all circumstances, under God, the master of his own fortune, so he is the maker of his own mind. The Creator has so constituted the human intellect that it can only grow by its own action: it will certainly and necessarily grow. Every man must therefore educate himself. His books and teacher are but helps; the work is his. A man is not educated until he has the ability to summon, in an emergency, his mental powers in vigorous exercise to effect its proposed object. It is not the man who has seen the most, or read the most, who can do this; such a one is in danger of being borne down, like a beast of burden, by an overloaded mass of other men’s thoughts. Nor is it the man who can boast merely of native vigour and capacity. The greatest of all warriors who went to the siege of Troy had not the pre-eminence because nature had given him strength and he carried the largest bow; but because self-discipline had taught him how to bend it.
If we work upon marble, it will perish; if we work upon brass, time will efface it; if we rear temples, they will crumble into dust; but if we work upon immortal minds, if we imbue them with principles, with the just fear of God and love of our fellow-men, we engrave on those tablets something which will brighten to all eternity.
Education may be compared to the grafting of a tree. Every gardener knows that the younger the wilding-stock is that is to be grafted, the easier and the more effectual is the operation, because, then, one scion put on just above the root will become the main stem of the tree, and all the branches it puts forth will be of the right sort. When, on the other hand, a tree is to be grafted at a considerable age (which may be very successfully done), you have to put on twenty or thirty grafts on the several branches; and afterwards you will have to be watching from time to time for the wilding-shoots which the stock will be putting forth, and pruning them off. And even so, one whose character is to be reformed at mature age will find it necessary not merely to implant a right principle once for all, but also to bestow a distinct attention on the correction of this, that, and the other bad habit…. But it must not be forgotten that education resembles the grafting of a tree in this point also, that there must be some affinity between the stock and the graft, though a very important practical difference may exist; for example, between a worthless crab and a fine apple. Even so, the new nature, as it may be called, superinduced by education, must always retain some relation to the original one, though differing in most important points. You cannot, by any kind of artificial training, make any thing of any one, and obliterate all trace of the natural character. Those who hold that this is possible, and attempt to effect it, resemble Virgil, who (whether in ignorance or, as some think, by way of “poetical license”) talks of grafting an oak on an elm: “glandemque sues fiegere sub ulmis.”
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacon’s Essay, Of Education and Custom.
A very common practice may be here noticed, which should be avoided if we would create a habit of studying with profit,—that of making children learn by rote what they do not understand. “It is done on this plea,—that they will hereafter learn the meaning of what they have been thus taught, and will be able to make a practical use of it.” (London Review, xi. 412, 413.) But no attempt at economy of time can be more injudicious…. All that is learned by rote by a child before he is competent to attach a meaning to the words he utters, would not, if all put together, amount to so much as would cost him, when able to understand it, a week’s labour to learn perfectly. Whereas, it may cost the toil, often the vain toil, of many years, to unlearn the habit of formalism,—of repeating words by rote without attending to their meaning; a habit which every one conversant with education knows to be in all subjects must readily acquired by children, and with difficulty avoided even with the utmost care of the teacher; but which such a plan must inevitably tend to generate.
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacon’s Essay, Of Studies.
Curiosity is as much the parent of attention, as attention is of memory; therefore the first business of a teacher—first not only in point of time, but of importance—should be to excite not merely a general curiosity on the subject of the study, but a particular curiosity on particular points in that subject. To teach one who has no curiosity to learn, is to sow a field without ploughing it.
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacon’s Essay, Of Studies.
Intellectual education now, to be worthy of the time, ought to include in its compass elements contributed to it in every one of the great epochs of mental energy which the world has seen. In this respect, most especially, we are, if we know how to use our advantages, inheritors of the wealth of all the richest times; strong in the power of the giants of all ages; placed on the summit of an edifice which thirty centuries have been employed in building.