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ter feelings of the heart, and is communicated in the accents of mild and kind affection : it is elicited from the mind itself, -not forced into it: the little community in the school room is, in fact, converted by skilful cultivation into a vigilant and most efficient society for the suppression of vice. This system throws away entirely the restraints of fear, and substitutes an intelligent and voluntary respect for those moral principles, which, to the unperverted mind of childhood, are intuitive.
To render this general description intelligible to persons who are unacquainted with the particular forms of discipline and instruction adopted in the infant schools, it may be sufficient to say, that the effects mentioned are produced by the personal infuence of the teacher himself. He depends for his results chiefly on sympathy and imitation, those powerful principles of action in the young mind : he wishes the children to be uniformly cheerful,—to attain this end, he is so himself : he inculcates tenderness by the mildness of his own manner, and the gentleness of his own tones : he wishes his little pupils to be cleanly and neat in their personal appearance and habits, -he sets them a constant example, and preserves a corresponding effect in the school room and its furniture. He cultivates the sensibility to natural beauty and innocent pleasures by the interest he takes in the play ground and garden, and the care he bestows on them. For rules and penalties he substitutes encouragement and persuasion, and for tangible rewards he uses words and looks of approbation. If one of his little flock become wayward and refractory, instead of attempting to wrench the will from its course by violence, he mildly leads the offender fo a group of his fellows who are pleased and busy with their lesson, and leaves him to the restoring influence of their society, and the susceptible spirit within his own little breast. Nature does its genial work ; the turbid mind soon becomes serene ; reason returns to her supremacy over the soul, bringing back with her the mood of gentleness and love. The softened transgressor returns with a new docility to the performance of his duty.
Those who are familiar with the history of education will recognize the methods adopted in infant schools as embodying the spirit of the system of Pestalozzi,—the greatest benefactor of our age,
the trucst observer of the human mind, and, (with one sacred exception,) perhaps its benignest friend : the man who was the first to maintain in relation to instruction, and to prove
by triumphant experiment, that there is within the human soul that, which to strengthen and expand and cherish and direct, is the sole business of education ; that every infant bosom is a mine of unexplored treasure, which cultivation only brings to light ; that every child possesses in miniature the attributes of the great Father of spirits; and that in prosecuting moral education, the instructer has only to develope these traits of resemblance. The intellect, he thought, was to become a throne on which the better propensities might sit in perpetual dominion ; prostrating and exterminating every passion which is an enemy to the nobler nature, till the great fabric of character rises in the glory of complete and permanent proportion.
It can never be too deeply regretted that this illustrious philanthropist should have been so long misunderstood and misrepresented ; and that it was not till towards the close of his in. valuable life that the generality, even of intelligent teachers, in this country or in England, recognized his high attributes of professional superiority, the sublimity of his benevolence, the profoundness of his philosophy, and the depth and extent of his experience. The glory of original and beneficent greatness, however, will dwell upon his name, as it descends to distant ages ; and history will revert to it with a grateful eye, when numbering the individuals whose ininds have impelled the great tide of human improvement.
The children of the present generation are, in most countries of Europe, tracing the path of elementary knowledge under the guidance of his intellect, as communicated in his system of instruction ; and the village school boy in New-England finds with equal wonder and delight, that arithmetic, as taught on his principles, is a rational science, founded in his own mind, and assimilated to it.
The system of instruction adopted in the infant schools, is chiefly, then, a transcript of the method of Pestalozzi, applied to the earliest stages of education. It was first introduced into England about nine or ten years ago, by one of those active philanthropists whose names reflect a true splendour on that country. The first attempt to establish a school for infants, (if the information received at this distance is correct,) was made in the metropolis under the domestic roof of that individual ; and was thence extended as benevolent persons of influence became acquainted with its character and design, and teachers were prepared, by observing the original model.
With the modesty peculiar to simple motives and pure benerolence, the man to whose efforts society is indebted for the es. tablishment of infant schools, has been so little anxious to assert his claim to public gratitude, that in bringing forward on this occasion the name of Wilson, as that of the founder of infant schools, it must be done as a thing which is gathered by inference from current information, rather than received on any particular authority. Nor is it important in a subject identified as this is with the interests of society, and receiving a fresh impulse from every mind which is applied to it, that we be exact in attempting to assign the inerits or the names of individuals. Be he who he may, whose energies were first put forth to devise and to propel this engine of improvement, he carries within his own breast a consciousness for which dominion would be a poor exchange. If he is among those whose. daily pursuits merge them in the mass of population congregated in London'that mighty heart,' which has sent forth some of the noblest impulses of humanity-he enjoys daily the sublime satisfaction of contemplating the fruits of his labours, in the hundreds of fellow beings whom his humanity has been a chief instrument in wresting from the early dominion of ignorance and vice, and raising to the eminence, the purity, and the conscious freedom of intelligence and religious principle. If there is on earth such a thing as the reward of active virtue, it is realized in the soul of that man, as he passes the infant groups repairing to school, whose minds he has rescued from neglect and ruin—whose clean apparel and healthful air of innocent happiness, tell what it is to be redeemed from the influences of domestic misery, and an education in the streets. If he occasionally visits the other cities of his native country, and witnesses the extension and rapid increase of the infant schools, and sees them becoming the elementary part of that system of general education which is now diffusing itself in every part of Britain, and shedding the light of intelligence and of piety over all classes of the people
- he perceives that the humble endeavours of an individual, begun and carried on with the sole aid of a good purpose, may do more for human happiness than was ever effected by the enactments of legislators.
Infant schools, soon after their establishment in England, received the aid and the countenance of all classes of the community ; and among the friends of the institution were early ranked some of most eminent and effi ent promoters of popular improvement. Under such auspices the number of these schools
was rapidly increased, till one or more were established in every considerable town. A highly respectable and influential society has, within a few years, been instituted for the purpose of giving unity, extent, and permanency to the efforts of philanthropy in this interesting sphere of operation. Under the patronage of this society, Mr. Wilderspin, an early and zealous advocate of infant schools, and for some time the superintendent of the one situated in Spitalfields, has been of late employed in visiting the cities and larger towns of Scotland and Ireland, for the purpose of establishing schools of this description, and, according to the most recent accounts, is very successful in his object.
Whether such schools were needed in the United States, was at one time a question with many ; as there was an apprebension entertained, that by rendering the advantages of early instruction too easily accessible, or by offering them, instead of leaving them to be desired and sought for, parents might be rendered indifferent to their responsibilities, and slack in their exertions for their children. Some apprehended, also, that infant schools, having been originally intended for the benefit of that class of society whose daily and hourly occupations prevented, to a great degree, the personal discharge of parental duties, could not be productive of good in a community in which, from its peculiar frame of government, it is so emphatically the interest of all that a high degree of personal and domestic virtue should prevail, and therefore that the sense of responsibility connected with the parental relation should be deeply felt. Any means of diminishing this feeling would prove, it was said, an evil to be deprecated rather than an advantage to be desired. Others thought the very principle on which infant schools are founded, a wrong one-the benevolent desire to aid parental instruction and influence ; regarding it as doing, in some measure, a violence to nature, to step between the mother and her offspring, even for the purpose of assisting her.
These objections, it is believed, have been all refuted by the establishment and the actual operation of infant schools on this side of the Atlantic. It is found that, on examination, there are, in all the cities and large towns of the United States, a very numerous class of the population-chiefly, however, of foreign origin--situated exactly as the corresponding class in England; from many (and some of these culpable) causes, unable to afford the education of their children, or unwilling to be at the
expense or the trouble. In these circumstances, -as positive compulsion is out of the question, in regard to the discharge of moral and personal duties,-the alternative is simply that of judicious and friendly impulse to the negligent, or the deplorable evil of a vitiated and degraded populace. On experiment, too, it is found that all the evils of gratuitous education are avoided, by merely reducing the terms of tuition, so as to meet the pecuniary condition of families poor in circumstances, but numerous in children, and by dispensing entirely with wages only in cases of extreme indigence. Very often it happens that in this way parents being enabled to educate their children, are induced to make exertions which they never would have made, had the school fees been left at the usual hopeless distance from the reach of their ability. To the poor, in a word, the establishment of infant schools proves a stimulus to industry, and not as had been fancied, an encouragement to sloth.
Neither is the responsibility of the parent in regard to the moral instruction of the child found to be diminished. Infant schools have, after fair experiment, proved themselves an effective aid to parental management,-increasing the moral sensibility of the child, -- awakening the parent to new views and more constant exertion. Intelligence enters the poor man's dwelling in the person of his own child, and brings docility, and peace, and happiness along with it. True, it gives the young child an acute sensibility to the faults and the vices of its parent, (if any such exist, but it is equally true, that, in well authenticated instances, the obdurate heart of a vicious parent has been touched by the innocence of his child, or pierced by an unexpected word of gentle admonition, such as the infant moralist had been accustomed to give or receive, when among his little school fellows. Mothers, too, have thus been restored to conscience and to peace ; and wives have acknowledged with tears of joy the reformation of their husbands, and the happiness which had come to dwell within their homes.
It is scarcely necessary to say that the objection against infant schools, which was founded on their interference with parental duty, has proved imaginary. The infant school is found to be a poor mother's best friend ; relieving her, during a great part of the day, of the care of that member of her family which is the most difficult for her to superintend and manage--the one between the youngest infant, (which with the household cares is sufficient charge, even to an able body and an active mind,) and the child who is old enough to go to a primary school. A sister