Imágenes de páginas

cheerful looking rooms with light blazing in them, and we conclude, involuntarily, how happy the inmates must be. Yet there is Heaven and Hell in those rooms, the same Heaven and Hell that we have known in others.

· There are two great classes of promoters of social happiness, cheerful people, and people who have some reticence. The latter are more secure benefits to society even than the former. They are nonconductors of all the heats and animosities around them. To have peace in a house, or a family, or any social circle, the members of it must beware of passing on hasty and uncharitable speeches, which, the whole of the context seldom being told, is often not conveying, but creating mischief. They must be very good people to avoid doing this; for let human nature say what it will, it likes sometimes to look on at a quarrel: and that, not altogether from ill nature, but from a love of excitement-for the same reason that Charles the Second liked to attend the debates in the Lords, because they were 'as good as a play.'

We come now to the consideration of temper, which might have been expected to be treated first. But to cut off the means and causes of bad temper is, perhaps, of as much importance as any direct dealing with the temper itself. Besides, it is probable that in small social circles there is more suffering from unkindness than ill-temper. Anger is a thing that those who live under us suffer more from than those who live with us. But all the forms of ill-humour and sour-sensitiveness, which especially belong to equal intimacy (though indeed they are common to all) are best to be met by impassiveness. When two sensitive persons are shut up together, they go on vexing each other with a reproductive irritability.* But sensitive and hard people get on well together. The supply of temper is not altogether out of the usual laws of supply and demand.

• Intimate friends and relations should be careful when they go out into the world together, or admit others to their own circle, that they do not make a bad use of the knowledge which they have gained of each other by their intimacy. Nothing is more common than this, and did it not mostly proceed from mere carelessness, it would be superlatively ungenerous. You seldom need wait for the written life of a man to hear about his weaknesses, or what are supposed to be

* Madame Necker de Saussure's maxim about fairness with children has sug. gested the above. Ce qui plie ne peut servir d'appui, et l'enfant veut être appuyé. Non-seulement il en a besoin, mais il le désire, mais sa tendresse la plus constante n'est qu'à ce prix. Si vous lui faites l'effet d'un autre enfant, si vous partagez ses passions, ses vacillations continuelle, si vous lui rendez tous ses mouvements en les augmentant, soit par la contrariété, soit par un excès de complaisance, il pourra se servir de vous comme d'un jouet, mais non être heureux en votre présence; il pleurera, se mutinera, et bientôt le souvenir d'un temps de désordre et d'humeur se jiera avec votre idée. Vous n'avez pas été le soutien de votre enfant, vous ne l'avez pas préservé de cette fluctuation perpétuelle de la volonté, maladie des êtres faibles et livrés à une imagination vive; vous n'avez assuré ni sa paix, ni sa sagesse, ni son bonheur, pourquoi vous croirait-il sa mère?"-L'Education Progressive, vol. i.


[ocr errors]

P. 228.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



• It takes away

[ocr errors]

such, if you know his intimate friends or meet him in company

with them.

'Lastly, in conciliating those we live with, it is most surely done, not by consulting their interests, nor by giving way to their opinions, so much as by not offending their tastes. The most refined part of us lies in this region of taste, which is perhaps a result of our whole being, rather than a part of our nature, and at any rate is the region of our most subtle sympathies and antipathies.

It may be said, that if the great principles of Christianity were attended to, all such rules, suggestions, and observations, as the above, would be needless. True enough! Great principles are at the bottom of all things; but to apply them to daily life, many little rules, precautions, and insights are needed. Such things hold a middle place between real life and principles, as form does between matter and spirit: moulding the one and expressing the other.'—pp. 101-109.

The discourse which ensues is full of fine remark. In it Ellesmere lays a good stress upon gratified vanity as a source of harmony. Offended vanity is truly a great separator. But Milverton, admitting its force, urges other reasons. much of the savour of life,' as he says, “to live amongst those with

whom one has not anything like one's fair value. It may not be mortified vanity, but unsatisfied sympathy, which causes this • discomfort.' This is a nice nut for a psychologist to crack. In how far is unsatisfied sympathy itself but a form of mortified vanity, or vice versâ ? Hazlitt used to say, truly enough, that the luxury of fame would be to make those you live among think well of you. It is very certain that a man desires more intensely to be a prophet in his own country, than in any other; though, as we all know, it is precisely in his own country that he cannot get acknowledged. Doubtless it must be irritating to feel that those you live with—those bound to you by ties of blood-really have no sort of appreciation of your worth; they love you, perhaps, but they do not admire you—they are unaware of your value. Is this irritation mortified vanity or unsatisfied sympathy? We think the former; firstly, because, in many cases, you would rather have their admiration than their love; secondly, because one of the delights of anticipated fame is to imagine that when the world has set its value upon you, then will those around you acknowledge it; and yet in this case, although they will admire, they will not understand you more than they did before; consequently, although your vanity may be gratified, your sympathy is as unsatisfied

as ever. Here is a remark made by Ellesmere, which every one will at once admit as .so true,' and as exactly fitting some of their friends :

*Well, at any rate, you will admit that there is a class of dreadfully

[ocr errors]


humble people who make immense claims at the very time that they are explaining that they have no claims. They say they know they cannot be esteemed: they are well aware that they are not wanted, and so on; all the while making it a sort of grievance and a claim that they are not what they know themselves not to be: whereas, if they did but fall back upon their humility and keep themselves quiet about their demerits, they would be strong then, and in their place and happy, doing what they could.'--pp. 111, 112.

Here is another upon women, which is worth attention :

• Women may talk the greatest unreason out of doors, and nobody kindly informs them that it is unreason. They do not talk much before clever men, and when they do, their words are humoured and dandled as children's sayings are. Now, I should fancy--mind I do not want either of you to say that my fancy is otherwise than quite unreasonable—I should fancy that when women have to hear reason at home it must sound odd to them. The truth is, you know, we cannot pet anything much without doing it mischief. You cannot pet the intellect, any more than the will, without injuring it. Well then, again, if you put people upon a pedestal and do a great deal of worship around them, I cannot think but the will in such cases must become rather corrupted, and that lessons of obedience must fall rather harshly.'

p. 114.


The next essay is on Education. From the conversation which precedes it, we extract the following remarks on cathedrals :

• MILVERTON. So you have been to see our cathedral. I say 'our,' for when a cathedral is within ten miles of us, we feel a property in it, and are ready to do battle for its architectural merits.

'ELLESMERE. You know I am not a man to rave about cathedrals. • MILVERTON. I certainly do not expect you to do so.

To me a cathedral is mostly somewhat of a sad sight. You have Grecian monuments, if anything so misplaced can be called Grecian, imbedded against and cutting into, gothic pillars; the doors shut for the greater part of the day; only a little bit of the building used; beadledom predominant; the clink of money here and there; whitewash in vigour; the singing indifferent; the sermons not indifferent but bad; and some visiters from London forming, perhaps, the most important part of the audience: in fact the thing having become a show. We look about, thinking when piety filled every corner, and feel that the cathedral is too big for the religion, which is a dried-up thing that rattles in this empty space.

• ELLESMERE. That is the boldest simile I have heard a long time. My theory about cathedrals is very different, I must confess. DUNSFORD. Theory!

• ELLESMERĘ. Well, “theory' is not the word I ought to bave used -feeling then. My feeling is, how strong this creature was, this worship, how beautiful, how alluring, how complete: but there was something stronger-truth.

• MILVERTON. And more beautiful?
• ELLESMERE. Yes, and far more beautiful.




[ocr errors]

MILVERTON. Doubtless, to the free spirits who brought truth forward.

'ELLESMERE. You are only saying this, Milverton, to try what I will say: but despite of all sentimentalities, you sympathize with any emancipation of the human mind, as I do, however much the meagreness of protestantism may be at times distasteful to you.

• MILVERTON. I did not say I was anxious to go back. Certainly not. But what says Dunsford? Let us sit down on this stile and hear what he has to say.

• DUNSFORD. I cannot talk with you about this subject. If I tell you of all the merits (as they seem to me) of the Church of England, you will both pick what I say to pieces, whereas if I leave you to fight on, one or the other will avail himself of those arguments on which our church is based.

• MILVERTON. Well, Dunsford, you are very candid, and would make a complete diplomatist: truth-telling being now pronounced (rather late in the day) the very acme of diplomacy. But, do you not own that our cathedrals are sadly misused?

* DUNSFORD. Now, very likely, if more were made of them, you, and men who think like you, would begin to cry out "superstition;' and would instantly turn round and inveigh against the uses which you now, perhaps, imagine for cathedrals.'-pp. 121-123.

The essay does not pretend to discuss the whole subject of education, but only to contain a few points in reference to it, which may escape more methodical discussions. For the most part, these remarks are admirable. Here is one, on the formation of a groundwork of tolerance :

. Parents and tutors will naturally be anxious to impress those under their charge with the religious opinions which they themselves hold. In doing this, however, they should not omit to lay a foundation for charity towards people of other religious opinions. For this purpose, it may be requisite to give a child a notion that there are other creeds besides that in which it is brought up itself. And, especially, let it not suppose that all good and wise people are of its church or chapel. However desirable it may appear to the person teaching, that there should be such a thing as unity of religion, yet as the facts of the world are against his wishes, and as this is the world which the child is to enter, it is well that the child should in reasonable time be informed of these facts. It may be said, in reply, that history sufficiently informs children on these points. But the world of the young is the domestic circle; all beyond is fabulous, unless brought home to them by comment. The existence, therefore, of different opinions in religious matters being held by good people should sometimes be dwelt upon, instead of being shunned, if we would secure a groundwork of tolerance in a child's mind.'-p. 127.

The few remarks upon intellectual education are sound and weighty: we extract them all :

* In the intellectual part of education, there is the absolute know. ledge to be acquired: and the ways of acquiring knowledge to be gained. The latter of course form the most important branch. They can, in some measure, be taught. Give children little to do, make much of its being accurately done. This will give accuracy. Insist upon speed in learning, with careful reference to the original powers of the pupil. This speed gives the habit of concentrating attention, one of the most valuable of mental habits. Then cultivate logic. Logic is not the hard matter that is fancied.

A young person, especially after a little geometrical training, may soon be taught to perceive where a fallacy exists, and whether an argument is well sustained. It is not, however, sufficient for him to be able to examine sharply and to pull to pieces. He must learn how to build. This is done by method. The higher branches of method cannot be taught at first. But you may begin by teaching orderliness of mind. Collecting, classifying, contrasting, and weighing facts, are some of the processes by which method is taught. When these four things, accuracy, attention, logic, and method, are attained, the intellect is fairly furnished with its instruments.

As regards the things to be taught, they will vary to some extent in each age. The general course of education pursued at any particular time may not be the wisest by any means, and greatness will overleap it and neglect it, but the mass of men may go more safely and comfortably, if not with the stream, at least by the side of it.

In the choice of studies, too much deference should not be paid to the bent of a young person's mind. Excellence in one or two things which may have taken the fancy of a youth, (or which really may suit his genius,) will ill compensate for a complete ignorance of those branches of study which are very repugnant to him; and which are, therefore, not likely to be learnt when he has freedom in the choice of his studies.

Amongst the first things to be aimed at in the intellectual part of education, is variety of pursuit. A human being, like a tree, if it is to attain to perfect symmetry, must have light and air given to it from all quarters. This may be done without making men superficial. Scientific method may be acquired without many sciences being learnt. But one or two great branches of science must be accurately known. So, too, the choice works of antiquity may be thoroughly appreciated without extensive reading. And passing on from mere learning of any kind, a variety of pursuits, even in what may be called accomplishments, is eminently serviceable. Much may be said of the advantage of keeping a man to few pursuits, and of the great things done thereby in the making of pins and needles. But in this matter, we are not thinking of the things that are to be done, but of the persons who are to do them. Not wealth but men. A number of one-sided men may make a great nation, though I much incline to doubt that; but such a nation will not contain a number of great men.

• The very advantage that flows from division of labour, and the probable consequence that men's future bread-getting pursuits will be more and more subdivided, and therefore limited, make it the more


« AnteriorContinuar »