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tranquility and domestic happiness, than to improve and to diffuse the means of education. What more worthy of imitation than the example of our fathers in the early ages of New England, who, relying upon the sound principle, that the maintenance of good literature tended most to the advancement of the flourishing state of societies and republics, secured by law, a hundred and sixty years ago, the blessings of public instruction for all their children ; and appropriated a considerable part of their means for the purpose of popular education. They knew that the equal diffusion of general knowledge, through the mass of the people, is more powerful in awakening energies and liberal ideas, and in preparing for a great catastrophe, than the exertions of individuals even of the greatest talents, who have concentrated within themselves, and monopolized all the information which their age affords. With the early institution of the schools of New England, the foundation of her liberties
The same cause has produced the same effect in other countries. What fuel nourished the flame of liberty in the breasts of the modern Grecians, before it burst out into a general conflagration ? It is matter of recent observation, that large numbers of high-minded Grecians, after the bloody contest of Europe against the power of Napoleon had come to a fortunate issue, were seen in the Italian and German universities, gathering the seeds of knowledge to be sown in the new schools, established in various parts of their own country, the fruits of which the ignorant Turk did not foresee. The greatest zeal for the diffusion of knowledge was shown in the year 1820, when Corfu, the university of Greece, began to flourish under the influence of the young men who had been educated in Italy and Germany. What else but the irresistible power of liberal ideas, kindling in the heart of Europe, and calling exasperated nations to arms, annihilated the unconquered forces of Napoleon ? It was with reason that he looked with an eye of jealousy upon the numerous literary institutions of Germany. They were more dangerous to him than her military array. Several of them sunk, in consequence of the innovation, which his policy led him to force upon them; while those which survived them, kept alive the principle of resistance in those disastrous times, when armies were routed, when courts were struck with perplexity and despair.
Whoever is acquainted with the spirit of German education in universities, knows how direct the influence is, which the instructers exercise over their hearers. The exchange of liberal ideas was, in spite of the secret police, never more rapid and more general than in the two years previous to the great events of 1813 and 1814, in which the hurricane rose to such a height as to sweep down almost at a blast the fortresses of military oppression.
Such are the effects of knowledge, which in its very nature revolts at tyranny slowly but surely. We all know how much our own independence owes to this eternal truth. But the enjoyments, matured by the cares and labors of others, impose the highest obligations on each succeeding age. The talent must be improved and doubled, and not be transmitted from age to age unaugmented. Has this been done by us in proportion with the advancement of the other interests of life ? A careful examination, recently held on that important subject, will convince every impartial observer, that popular education has not only been stationary for a long time, but that it is even on the decline. The causes are apparent. There are no adequate means to prepare an instructer specifically for his profession; and this all-important department is entirely left to chance. Where can an instructer be educated, and study the principles of his art? A public institution for this purpose does not exist in this country. Private efforts, which have been made, are highly honorable in themselves, but have as yet had little effect, for want of encouragement and patronage. The legislatures of the different states should consider this subject with greater earnestness, and should not act upon the principle that the promotion of literature and taste cannot be primary objects of political institutions. They should feel that the education of youth, on which the welfare and destiny of the state depend, is a primary object of their attention.
It is an undoubted fact, that a teacher needs as serious and thorough a preparation for his practice, as a divine, or lawyer, or physician for his; and education is surely as of great public utility, as any of the professions which are dependant on it. In fact the standard of these professions will be raised, in proportion to the general improvements in education.
Great dissatisfaction has, in different parts of the union, been expressed with our public institutions for the purpose of preliminary education, that is, such as precedes the study of the professions. The chief objection to them appears to be, that they are too limited in their literary sphere, not sufficiently popular in their spirit, and inadequate to satisfy the interests of the present state of society, whose claims go far beyond the power and ability of the systems of education. The defects in the present organization and modes of instruction of our colleges are well known, and have, in some instances, been the subject of serious discussions. A few alterations in the old system have been adopted in consequence of these discussions, and an enlargement in the plan of usefulness has recently been attempted in Harvard college to bring it nearer to the model of a university. But the very nature of a university requires, that the study of the professions should form its basis and its principal object, to which all other pursuits ought to be placed in remote or immediate relation, as contributing to the liberal education, or to the ornamental accomplishments of a professional student.
In this respect, also, the new institution of London, strictly speaking, does not possess the qualifications of a university, however extensive and excellent its plan may otherwise be.
The statement lately published by the Council of that establishment, explanatory of its nature and object, shows that the studies, which constitute the essential parts of a liberal education preparatory to a professional course, are the leading object, and occupy the first division of the seminary ; the second division comprehends the various branches of polite and general literature ; and under the last head are arranged those subjects which belong to legal and medical education. In regard to the legal department in that establishment, though its success may be considered as certain, with the extent of its present means, that success will be perhaps more owing to the inherent temptations of the legal profession in England, than to the adequacy of the system pursued in the London university, in a philosophical point of view. The profession of medicine is, in fact, the only one, for the benefit of which great efforts and effectual provisions have been made. We have had occasion to speak in the preceding article of the state of medical education in England. London, like other large cities, concentrates all the advantages, from which alone the systematic knowledge of this science, and medical skill and experience can be derived.
The success of the plan to attract the most eminent teachers, who are now lecturing on the medical sciences in different parts of that immense city, will place this department above all other establishments of the kind in Great Britain. Nothing exceeds the efficacy of the united
powers of able men stimulated to the utmost exertion of their faculties, by closer rivalship, larger emolument, and wider reputation. There is one inconvenience in the system of the London institution, the entire exclusion, not only of theology, but of any religious instruction or discipline whatever. Necessity, it is true, produced this defect. For a great majority of persons dissenting from the established church, render a uniform system of religious education far less practicable in England than in Scotland, which has but a small minority of dissenters. Since the fundamental principle of the institution is, that it shall be accessible to students of all religious denominations, and not exclude dissenters, as Oxford, or admit them under degrading restrictions, as Cambridge, it has been found utterly impossible to introduce the study of that important profession, without injuring the consistency of the plan, or giving offence to the public. The education of the clergy of the established church is, of course, left to Oxford and Cambridge, which offer superior advantages for that purpose.
The greatest claim, however, which the London institution has on the gratitude and patronage of the English public, is the good preliminary education it affords to those who intend to devote themselves to the learned professions of law and medicine. The extravagant abuses into which the practice of these two professions has sunk, on account of the want of a liberal education, which alone renders men, engaged in those professions, worthy of the confidence the public must place in them, will, no doubt, under the influence of the new establishment, gradually decrease, and finally, as far as possible, be abolished. It is, indeed, matter of great surprise, that England has, till now, borne with the existing state of things, without the least effort to obviate its pernicious tendency. All the statements, published within the last two years, agree in the fact, that among the whole number of physicians, only one hundred; among the six thousand members of the College of Surgeons, only six ; and among the eight thousand attorneys, only eight, are graduates of either of the English colleges. Does this fact leave any doubt in regard to the causes, that have operated upon the present state of the English population ?
But we return to our more immediate subject. The great solicitude expressed by Washington, in the last days of his eventful life, on the subject of scientific education in this coun
VOL. XXVII.—NO. 60.
try, shows the depth of his philosophical mind, the extent of his philanthropy, and his ardent desire to secure the welfare of his country by giving a salutary impulse to all its great interests. The subject, which has, several times, been submitted to the consideration of Congress, and is, at present, acknowledged by many to be of paramount importance, the establishment of a national university, in a central part of the United States, was first proposed by Washington in the following expressive words, as written in his will; It has always been a source of serious regret with me, to see the youth of these United States sent to foreign countries for the purpose of education, often before their minds are formed, or they had imbibed any adequate ideas of the happiness of their own; contracting, too frequently, not only habits of dissipation and extravagance, but principles unfriendly to republican government, and to the true and genuine liberties of mankind, which thereafter are rarely overcome. For these reasons it has been my ardent wish to see a plan devised, on a liberal scale, which would have a tendency to spread systematic ideas through all the parts of this rising empire; thereby to do away local attachments and state-prejudices, as far as the nature of things would, or indeed ought to admit, from our national councils. Looking anxiously forward to the accomplishment of so desirable an object as this is (in my estimation), my mind has not been able to contemplate any plan more likely to effect the measure, than the establishment of an university in a central part of the United States, to which the youths of fortune and talents from all parts thereof, may be sent for the completion of their education, in all the branches of polite literature, in arts and sciences, of acquiring knowledge in the principles of politics and good government, and (a matter of 'infinite importance in my judgment) by associating with each other, and forming friendships in juvenile years, be enabled to free themselves, in a proper degree, from their local prejudices and habitual jealousies, which have just been mentioned, and which, when carried to excess, are never-failing sources of disquietude to the public mind, and pregnant of mischievous consequences to the country, under these impressions, so fully dilated.'
Had this noble plan been carried into effect at a period, when the evils foreseen by the father of his country were still at a greater distance than they are now, the Union would, at the