Page images

connexion with forwardness, as in the United States. That movable excitability which “turns at the touch of joy or woe, and turning, trembles too,” is inexpressibly lovely in youth and I have never more admired young countenances, than some of those that I have seen turned to beloved teachers, and stirred by the zeal, ambition, or animation of a favourite lesson.

The education, if we except the classics, embraces a wider

range than that of our parish schools, and is very thorough, if it be not the pupil's own fault. One sees the higher classes of girls quite au fait in astronomy, square and cube root, &c. Another striking difference is the employment of female teachers, not in the industrial department only, nor for girls alone. They seem more numerous than the male teachers, probably because they are obtained at a cheaper rate. Why the rate should be cheaper does not appear. Their labour is not less, neither are their attainments and success inferior. I have never admired calm authority and sensible dignity more than in the person of an American female teacher, while she drew forth the attainments of fifty big boys in mathematics and the Latin rudiments. Her class was in perfect order, and her pupils evidently observed her with affectionate respect. She was not teaching in one of the Common Schools, as the Latin lesson proved. But such female teachers are nearly as common as the schools.

As past experience generally passes in the mind

in a sort of panoramic review while we are busily observing the present—or rather, what we witness now forms the foreground, while what we have seen elsewhere forms the background of the picture—so it is inevitable that comparison should be in active exercise. One difference which met me everywhere was the mode of addressing pupils at an examination, shewing what is expected of them. They are not treated as machines upon whom the teachers are to act, as they unfortunately sometimes are in England; but as members of the community, who have a part to act themselves, and who are as much interested in the credit of the school as the teachers. The effect of this is to excite a common interest between teachers and taught, and to give superior manliness

and energy.

The fittings-up, or “fixings," as our brethren call them, of some of the more recent schoolrooms are very worthy of imitation. Instead of one long, dreary bench in front of a desk, which forms a barrier to be climbed over, each pupil has a rounded seat, which turns a little on a pivot, and has a low back, so that he glides gently into his place, instead of clambering into it with an unsightly scramble; and when seated, he has a rest for his spinal column, which saves him at once from oppressing and contracting his chest by leaning forward, and from the lateral curvature which so frequently is the result of attitudes chosen to relieve the weariness of a long unsupported seat.

There is much ingenuity and spirit in the songs


and recitations which awaken patriotic sentiments in the very dawn of life, and give each child a personal interest in what he is engaged about. A selection of these things might form a curious and characteristic publication, letting one into the very heart and spring of the national character. The stanza or two here presented are only fragments



“I'll sing the hours of sweet content,

Of innocence and toys,
When to the Common School I went

With other girls and boys. 'Tis a happy theme; like a golden dream its memory seems to be, And I'll sing with joy and gratitude, 'The Common School for me!

[blocks in formation]

“Then blessings on our Common Schools,

Wherever they may stand;
They are the people's colleges-

The bulwarks of the land.
Thus in our songs we will them praise

With loud and joyous glee,
And Yankee Doodle we will raise,

And tell the world we're free. 'Tis a happy theme; like a golden dream its memory seems to be, And I'll sing while I have voice or tongue, The Common School

for me!

This fell the more cordially into a Scottish ear, because of the familiar air, “ There's nae luck about the house,” to which it was sung with great spirit.

There is a very extensive Temperance Society, which bears the name of their great General as its rallying word. There is practical usefulness, both to the cause of Temperance and that of Patriotis in teaching the children a strain lik


which, we need not say, is not introduced because of its poetry, but because of its influence :

“ Through all the wide creation,

This glorious reformation *
Must spread to every nation,
So nobly speeds it on.

Then let the cause speed on.

“Let the name of Washington

Be rung through all the land, boys,
Oh, boldly take your stand, boys !
Come, join us heart and hand, boys;

Remember Washington.

“He bared his noble breast, boys,

To give his country rest, boys,
Because we were oppress'd, boys.

Then let the cause speed on.

“Let the name of Washington
Excite each youthful heart, boys,
To act a generous part, boys,
When in the cause you start, boys.

Remember Washington."

If a few heart-stirring rhymes were introduced into those of our schools at home, where the art of singing is practised, they might produce a happy effect in awakening the patriotism and quickening the loyalty of our juvenile citizens, and worthily supersede “ Little Tom Tuck," and his tribe.

What has been said of schools refers chiefly to the city and county of New York, but might be equally said of all the counties and cities in the State. In all the Eastern States the impulse to furnish education is vigorous.

In Connecticut there is an extensive school pro

* Temperance.

perty, consisting of bonds and mortgages, bank stock, cultivated lands and buildings, and wild lands, which is portioned out according to the claims and wants of the several counties. The arrangement is probably nearly the same in all the New England States, and in the other Free States. The management varies with the places, but all have schools with libraries attached. Some have committees to examine and select books, and where no committee exists, the good people in the district do what they can to form useful libraries; and happily, by a common law, positively bad books are excluded from all public libraries.

The United States delights to call itself the Model Republic, and is a fair field for proving the republican form of government. In this world, where perfection is not found, we are often glad to do the best that circumstances admit of, and to yield points for the sake of unanimity; but this exclusion of religious instruction from the Common Schools is a very great thing to yield. They talk of the purpose of some religious bodies to erect church schools, and take the superintendence of their own children; and they are very right, if better may not be. But a distant spectator, who is ignorant of the adverse power which may arise to prevent a change, should it again be put to the vote, cannot but wish the matter were reconsidered before the most pious of the community withdraw from the present system entirely. If a more decided

« PreviousContinue »