« PreviousContinue »
Nightmen and scavengers have just the same;
I had rather be a German, or a Jew,
Esteeming it by far a less disgrace;
Or any thing but what I am, in short,
Those who baptize us, really should not sport
ye that love me truly, never say
Some may insist 'tis taken from the Greek,
Like many other names, as they pretend:
When 'tis a name that must all ears offend?
And no man willingly, I'm sure, would choose
You can't abridge it; and whiche'er you use,
What only fits some miserable hack.”
It is to be remarked that in Italian the name of Giovanni admits of sundry derogatory derivatives and diminutives unknown in English, such as Nanni, Vanni, Vannino, Vannozzo, &c. which gives the original a degree of force that cannot be transferred to a translation. When de la Casa says "I'd rather be a German," &c. he refers no doubt to what Berni had so well said, in one of his Capitoli, against the horrible names just brought by Pope Adrian from Germany
"Nome da fare sbigottire un cane,
Da fare spiritare un cemitero
A number of Italian poets of high celebrity at one time clubbed their wits for the purpose of giving point and application to the jests and scioccherie of a notorious buffoon of the name of Bertoldo. These constitute a body of humorous poetry, not always very intelligible to foreigners, but now and then very witty and amusing. Among these were Padre Sebastiano Paoli, Dottore Francesco Zanotti, Abate Carlo Innocenzo Frugoni, Abate Giuseppi Amadesi, with sixteen others; and the work went through several editions in a very short time. It is full of obscurities of matter and style, and although we have paid some attention to Italian poetry, during the last ten or twelve years, we frankly own that there are many parts of the corpulent volume we cannot pretend to explain. It must be acknowledged, however, that in some of the tales what is intended
for pleasantry appears to us mere grossness,—a mistake not unfrequently made by Italian novelists and poets, from Sacchetti to Casti, but certainly not Casti included. Casti is often coarse, but never without wit; and on some future occasion we may endeavour to show that he has been much libelled, and that his novelle, quite independent of their immorality, contain a vast deal of humour, and profound wisdom, conveyed in exquisite versification. The following sonnet, founded upon one of Bertoldo's jests, contains, together with a good joke, a better moral lesson: the original is in what the Italians call rime tronche, and we, monosyllabic rhymes; which are used in that language for comic effect, in the same way that double and triple rhymes are often employed in English. Muratori, in his work, Della Perfetta Poesia Italiana, tells us gravely that he could find no trace in any author of such a supposed custom among the Greeks and Romans, just as if Girolamo Gigli (the author of the Sonnet) meant to be understood literally upon the point: it is called
66 THE SIEVE.
"If we may trust Bertoldo's famous history,
The King said to him, 'Come to me to-morrow,
What did Bertoldo then? You will agree you
They put a sieve in bed with those just married,
That 'twixt the wedded sieves should aye be carried,
Muratori pronounces this composition giocoso e piacevole, and abounding in moltissime grazie; therefore if it do not seem to the reader to deserve this praise, it must be our fault. pleasantry consists principally in the application, for the moral that husbands and wives should wink at each other's goings on is very old, and no where more necessary than in Italy. Fortiguerri, who, as all are aware, is a comparatively modern author, has put it as well as any body, in the fifth canto of his Ricciardetto !
"Che son pazzi i mariti, e ancor le mogli,
This passage should be written as a motto over every door belonging to every married couple from Milan to Reggio.
Jan.-VOL. XXXIII. NO. CXXXIII
THE UNIVERSAL EDUCATION OF THE PEOPLE ESSENTIAL TO THE PUBLIC HAPPINESS.
"THE duty of a man hath great variety; and the persuasions of men are strangely divided; and every state of life hath its proper prejudice; and we shall perceive that men generally need knowledge to overpower their passions, and to master their prejudice; and therefore to see your brother in ignorance is to see him unfurnished to all good works; and every master is to cause his family to be instructed; every governor is to instruct his charge, every man his brother, by all possible and just provisions. For if the people die for want of knowledge, they who are set over them, shall also die for want of charity."-Bishop Jeremy Taylor's Works, vol. v. p. 277.
It is at length settled by the opinions of the wisest of men, after the best experience, that, whatever more must be done for the good of society at large, and of the poor in particular, one of the readiest means of improving the condition of both, is thoroughly to instruct the uneducated. No thinking man, indeed, believes that schools alone, even if extensive enough for teaching all the ignorant, old as well as young, will get rid of the just call for general reform; but such a consummation will do much in aid of other things, and by sharpening the invention of all classes, when reflecting upon what more is wanted, it will greatly facilitate its attainment. On the other hand, few will look for lasting peace in all that may be accomplished besides, if firm foundations for future good be not laid, in the sound knowledge which in various ways can now be safely given to the whole people.
The first step to this end is, to learn the extent in point of numbers of the people's present want of knowledge. Ten years ago it was thought by those then held to be the persons best acquainted with the subject, that one-ninth only of any population could be found proper to be admitted into all kinds of schools. The subsequent exertions of many excellent individuals in this country, and abroad, and more extensive inquiries, have shewn that opinion to have been erroneous. In parts of England not very carefully provided with the means of education, about a sixth part of the people is at present actually at school; and in the United States of North America (whence, in spite of our pride, we have to learn many lessons) numerous districts afford examples of instruction being imparted to more than to one-third and one-fourth parts of the inhabitants. Particular cases will illustrate these positions most satisfactorily.
At Steyning, in Sussex, out of 1436, the number of all the inhabitants of that town, according to the census of the present year, there are 240 children at school, although hitherto neither any infant school nor a school of industry is established there; and although the grammar school of the place is not yet conducted upon the only plan, which, as will be seen in our next number, is calculated sufficiently to attract numerous scholars. By the average distribution of ages in Sussex, as in other parts of England, about five-twelfths of the people are under fifteen years of age; and the large majority of individuals of that period ought to be at some kind of school. This rule, if properly acted upon, would give at Steyning at least 450 scholars instead of the present number, 240; whilst many individuals at more advanced ages than fifteen years, might easily be provided with other means of instruction better suited to their time of life.
The United States of North America, with almost an English population, afford the following examples to illustrate the subject. In Kentucky, at Hopkin's ville, a place scarcely perhaps yet redeemed from the wilderness, and not too favourable an example of American towns, out of 1350 souls, 426 enjoy regular instruction; 226 being at ordinary schools, (not yet including infant schools) and 200 attending the Lyceum, an institution of great importance, of which a few words will be said presently. Again, in the State of New York, with a population of one million and a half, 500,000 children are in the course
* See the speech of the present Lord Chancellor upon bringing in a Bill in 1820 for the general education of the people.
of education. How many of the people attend Lyceums does not appear; and infant schools, although highly esteemed, are yet far from being universal. Other States of the Union are equally strenuous to promote the great object of teaching the people; and one of the ablest statesmen of that country, Mr. Livingston, has recorded the effect of the system in the following terms: "The plan of general religious instruction, embracing the doctrines common to all Christian sects, and excluding all sectarian doctrine, has been for years practised in Boston; and such success has attended it, that, although the schools have been in operation more than ten years, and on an average more than three thousand have been educated in them every year, not one of those educated there has been even committed for a crime. In New York a similar effect has been observed. Of the thousands educated in the public schools of that city, taken generally from the poorest classes, but one, it is asserted, has ever been convicted, and that for a trifling offence."*
These are facts which, if they prove the vastness of the work to be accomplished in this country, also prove the great amount of the materials waiting to receive only due care, in order to become of inestimable value. Especially is it to be considered in reference to the extent of the labour recommended, that education must be afforded to all the people, unless the reproach is to be incurred of leaving some against their will in more disadvantageous circumstances than the rest.
In England alone, taking the population at nine millions, there ought to be schools for at least three millions of souls under fifteen years of age, after making every deduction for sickness and other impediment: and no provision of any kind, public or private, probably now exists for the education of many more than one-half of this number. If one seventh part of these are taught at their parents' expense, the rest unquestionably claim fairly, more or less, a public provision. The proper mode of raising this provision is not perhaps easily settled. There are strong objections to mere charity schools. But public schools are indispensable; and what is supported by general taxation is not a charity. In the present unequal distribution of property too, and most oppressed condition of the labouring poor, to expect large contributions directly, is out of the question. Nor is the evil of charity absolute; as the Pension List is filled without much self-abasement in those who have neither personal, nor reflected merits, it is probable that education will bring with it compensations for the humility which its apparent eleemosynary character may fix upon the scholars. Odious distinctions must be rejected, and some palliatives may be devised for the evil, if it prove to be one, after we shall have determined to do the great work, to which, at the worst, it will be but an inconsiderable obstacle. In this very general estimate females are included; inasmuch as every plan of national education must be exceedingly imperfect which is confined to boys alone.
The existing institutions of the country for the purposes of education seem to be consistent with the proposed supply, by taxation, of what will more adequately meet the acknowledged wants of the people. If any of these institutions require to be reformed, as undoubtedly they do, due reformation is an essential part of their rule; and without violence to foundations they may all be accommodated to any improvements which sound discretion recommends.
In the following sketch of what is needful for the instruction of the contemplated three millions, it has been attempted to include all existing establishments in the range of what seems good for the more extensive usefulness of the old institutions, whilst their permanence is insured by connecting them advantageously with what is indispensable and new.
There is wanted, then, a system comprising, first, seminaries for teachers, male and female, and of various qualifications; secondly, infant schools; thirdly, what are usually termed primary schools; fourthly, Sunday schools; fifthly, schools of industry; sixthly, mechanics' institutes and lyceums; seventhly, grammar schools; and eighthly, colleges.
Introductory Report to the Code of Prison Discipline for Louisiana. By Edward Livingston. London edition. 1827. p. 22.-See Webster's Speeches.
First. Seminaries for teachers, male and female, and of various qualifications. Whether his Majesty the King of the French, the great practical pedagogue of the day, or Lord Chancellor Brougham, the greater theoretical "schoolmaster," may have reflected upon the importance of this first step towards the effectual education of the people, seems doubtful. They will both, however, admit its pressing necessity, which is proved by nothing more clearly, than by the difficulty now felt in private life to select a good school for the children of the rich; and by the more frequent difficulty there is experienced in all parts of the country, whenever the increasing demand calls for the establishment of a new school for the poor. Competent teachers are rare, and above all price.
In Switzerland something is done for this object in one of the cantons; and various private associations in England and in other countries intimate its utility. In regard to the professors of one particular line of study, the munificence of a private gentleman in America is worthy of universal respect. Mr. Van Rennselaer, to whom we allude, a rich land-owner of the State of New York, has settled between seven and eight hundred pounds a-year upon a seminary of teachers to give instruction in the application of science to the common purposes of life;-of teachers of science to the farmers and artisans of America. The results of this establishment are understood to have far exceeded the most sanguine expectations of the founder. Five classes have graduated at the school, and any of the members of each class are engaged in teaching upon the experimental and demonstrative plan, and in preparing other teachers for the same duties in British America, as well as in various parts of the United States.
To a certain extent all universities are seminaries for instructing teachers of the higher schools; and such establishments as the Training Department of the British and Foreign School Society do much; but the want especially to be provided against by the seminaries contemplated, in this first article of our system, is the want, to use the language of the volume to which we are indebted for the foregoing notice of Mr. Van Rennselaer's foundation, of " seminaries devoted to the preparation of elementary teachers of the common branches, and to preparing instructors to give the first lessons to the infant."*
It has been observed, by a most competent judge, the late Governor Ashman, of Liberia, that English-bred teachers excel those of other countries. Such testimony might stimulate us to multiply them with zeal; and, as Britain of old was the nursery of Druidism and religion to Western Europe, we might now earn a more honourable renown in the superiority of our disseminators of better creeds.
Secondly. Infant schools. With respect to infant schools, so much might be said with advantage, that we regret to be confined to a very few words indeed on the subject. They are spreading rapidly in every quarter of the globe. They are the happiest means of withdrawing the young from evil example, and from the bad language of the unfortunate convicts in New South Wales, where they were introduced seven years ago; in India, and in Africa,† they are found
* American Annals of Education. Vol. i. pp. 231, 232. Boston, May 1831. The following account of the first infant school at the Cape of Good Hope, from the pen of the master, a very young man, himself an infant school pupil, to his father, Mr. Buchanan, of Westminster, will be read with interest :April 1, 1830. "We commenced school on the 15th of last month. It is principally intended for the children of slaves, and already contains 160. Here is a capital field for exertion! The greater part of the children are little curly-headed urchins, flat-nosed, and thick lips, with snow-white teeth, and fine, large intelligent eyes. They are remarkably active, and in docility and capacity I think them superior to the white children here, who are generally spoiled, and who early acquire a violent, domineering spirit, the natural effect of slavery upon the masters. One of the most pleasing scenes I ever beheld, or could imagine, is presented by these little bronze and japanned creatures, when they walk round the school to the sound of my flute, or sing,
Oh! how pretty 'tis to see
clapping their hands, or stamping their feet to the sound of their own voices; or a number of them in the class-room, with my brother at their head, learning to read, spell, count, or repeat the little hymns and songs."