AFTER A PUBLIC EXAMINATION OF THE STUDENTS OF THE
STUDIES AND DISCIPLINE OF THE INSTITUTE;
STUDY OF THE CLASSICS ON CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES.
The following Address, &c., are designed to answer the purpose of a Prospectus of the Institute.
Delivered by WM. AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG, after a public
Examination of the Students of the Institute at Flushing, L. I., July 28, 1831.
THREE years have now elapsed since the opening of this Seminary. As that was the period originally contemplated by its projector, for ascertaining the practicability of conducting the business of liberal education on strictly Christian principles, [* Doubtless in many other Institutions there is more or less of Christian education. But even in these it is so generally a secondary object, that a classical seminary professing to aim primarily at a Christian character, may be allowed a claim to originality.] or rather, his own competency to direct such an undertaking, the present is an appropriate occasion for making some report of the success of the enterprise. From this report, as far as it bears the marks of candor, and is corroborated by those who have had opportunities of personal observation in the case, the public may determine in what degree the Institution is worthy of their patronage.
In the first place, then, as respects the literary improvement of our pupils, it is hoped, that the examination of to-day, imperfect as it necessarily has been, has afforded evidence of respectable proficiency. The classes have pursued the prescribed course of study, which, as regards the two highest that were examined, [* As nearly all the members of these classes will remain in the Institute, they will next year be advanced to the grade of the Sophomore and Junior years.] is substantially the same with that of the Freshman and Sophomore classes in college. Whatever degree of improvement has been manifested, the consideration must be borne in mind, that it has been effected without the aid of those artificial stimulants, [3/4] which, for younger learners especially, are imagined to be indispensable. In our anxiety to promote diligence in study, we have never forgotten, that there is something else to be secured of higher consequence than any acquisitions of mere human learning. Hence no incentives to exertion have been proposed, but those of the purest character. No prizes have been offered to distinction, nor any of the ordinary methods adopted of exciting a spirit of rivalry. The degrees of the scale, by which standing in scholarship is graduated, are fixed, and have no reference to the merits of the pupils as compared with one another. The first place that each is exhorted to strive for, is not a point which is continually receding from the approaches of all, except the most talented competitor, but a permanent station, so broad as to admit all the successful aspirants, and yet so elevated as to render the reaching of it a sufficiently invigorating exercise. Arbitrary rewards and punishments have been wholly excluded, and no other inducements to industry proposed, than such as arise from the gratification of parents, the prospect of usefulness and respectability in the world, and above all, the approbation of conscience. Hence, as I have intimated, whatever has been the amount of application within our walls, its virtue is not liable to any deduction on account of the motives from which it sprung, at least as far as those motives have been suggested by the mode of discipline employed; and whenever native indolence or volatility has been overcome, the additional satisfaction may be enjoyed of regarding it if not as the fruit of a sense of duty, yet as the conquest of a praiseworthy ambition. Nor let this be reckoned a minor consideration in the training of the young.
Whether a lesson be mastered in obedience to conscience, or from a dread of punishment, from filial affection, or determination to beat a rival, is a question of little moment, I grant, in reference to the stock of knowledge acquired, but of incalculable consequence [4/5] when asked in reference to the bearing upon moral character. The zeal to make scholars, should, in the minds of Christians at least, be tempered by the knowledge that it may repress a zeal for better things. The head should not be furnished at the expense of the heart. Surely, at most, it is exchanging fine gold for silver, when the culture of gracious affections and holy principle is neglected for any attainments of intellect, however brilliant or varied. What Christian parent, would wish his son to be a linguist or a mathematician, of the richest acquirements or the deepest science, if he must become so by a process, in which the improvement of his religious capabilities would be surrendered, or his mind accustomed to motives not recognised in the pure and self-denying discipline of the Gospel. Not that such discipline is unfriendly to intellectual superiority; on the contrary, the incentives to attain it, will be enduring, and consequently efficient, in proportion to their purity. The highest allurements to the cultivation of our rational nature, are peculiar to Christianity. Hence, literature and science have won their highest honors in the productions of minds most deeply imbued with its spirit. The effect, however, of exclusively Christian discipline in a seminary of learning, when fairly stated, is not so much to produce one or two prodigies, as to increase the average quantum of industry; to raise the standard of proficiency among the many of moderate abilities, rather than to multiply the opportunities of distinction for the gifted few.
The design of these observations is to illustrate the spirit of the intellectual education of the school, and not to apologize for the deficiency of its pupils. If such deficiency exists, the fault must be looked for in the administration of the system, and not in the system itself. Judging as accurately as circumstances will admit, and allowing for the natural bias of partiality in our own favor, I presume, the degree of application in the Institute, on the whole, [5/6] and the particular instances of extraordinary industry, which might be named, would be considered creditable in any of those schools in which the stimulants we reject, are the most copiously administered.
Professing, as we do, to recognise continually the obligations of religion, it will reasonably be supposed that our moral atmosphere is comparatively pure. Such is believed to be the fact. Of juvenile depravity in the numberless forms of school-boy mischief, we have known but little. Bad temper has seldom grown into serious quarrels. Kind feelings have prevailed between the classes and their instructers, in a remarkable degree. No disposition has ever been manifested to resist authority. Indecorous language, either profane, or obscene, has not been a common offence, and, indeed, not tolerated within our bounds. From worse species of immorality we are secured, partly by circumstances, and in some measure, we hope, by the prevalence of sound principles; since many of our pupils are of an age, when the disposition to licentiousness is strong enough to break any barriers that may be opposed to its indulgence.--That the Institute will never be attended with the facilities to vice which are commonly supposed to be inseparable from public schools, its friends may have a security in the assurance, that when the character to which it aspires in this respect cannot be maintained, its existence will not be prolonged. When it ceases to be an asylum from temptation to profligacy and dissipation, or is obliged for the sake of patronage to retain within its walls the dissolute or the profane, the experiment of a Christian institute will be acknowledged to have failed, and the project will be abandoned.
As religion is the corner-stone on which alone we have attempted to rear the fabric of morality, the degree of attention which it has received in the instruction and discipline of the Institute, forms another topic in our report. [6/7] And here while the retrospect affords cause for congratulation that much has been done, it still leaves room for regret that much also has been left undone. It would be an affectation of modesty, however, to disclaim the consciousness that in all our plans and operations, there has been a uniform and earnest endeavor to sustain our religious professions. Accordingly, pains have been taken to give interest to the services of the chapel, and the decorum with which these have been attended by the students has been peculiarly gratifying. The regular and private reading of the Holy Scriptures has been a prescribed, duty and provision made for it in the daily routine of business. Portions of the inspired volume have been explained, after having been committed to memory, weekly; as also the Catechism and Services of the Episcopal Church. The observance of the Lord's day has been enforced, on the one hand, with a moderation which perceives the danger of rendering its duties tedious and irksome; yet on the other, with a strictness which would guard against the opposite and more common error, of allowing it to relax into a mere holiday for indulgence and amusement. With this view, the tasks of a sacred character required on Sundays have been light, while alluring and persuasive methods have been varied and multiplied, to induce a profitable employment of the time not appropriated to devotional exercises. We thus have succeeded, to an encouraging extent, in preserving the appropriate quiet of the day, and in using it as a means of spiritual edification, without investing it with the gloom and repulsiveness which not unfrequently counteract the beneficent design of the institution; a point which every one practically acquainted with the government of the young, will acknowledge to be as difficult as any other within the sphere of Christian education. In like manner we have been careful to render all the associations of Religion agreeable. Aware, too, that in moral culture, it is the indirect influence [7/8] which the young disciple is exposed, in the tone and manner of things and in the every day habits of those around him, that operates to the formation of his sentiments and character more powerfully than any repetition of precepts or formal exhibition of example, we have endeavored that religion should be viewed as the source of contentment and self-government to its possessors, and not at variance with the declaration that its ways are "ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace." Pious sensibility has been tenderly cherished whenever it has appeared, and in awakening it, much has been done in the way of private and familiar conversation.
If the inquiry be made, how far any evidences of decided Christian character have been the result of our care, I would premise an answer by remarking, that, as the promise of spring is rather its blossoms than its fruits, so in a youthful community, it is unreasonable to expect much of mature and ripened piety. Precocity is as rare in religion as in learning. There are vernal fruits, however, and a goodly proportion ought certainly to be found in a garden consecrated to the LORD. Accordingly, with regard to a number of our pupils, the interest which they manifest in the services of religion, their voluntary meetings for prayer and mutual edification, their attention to their private devotional duties, their diligence in study from an acknowledged sense of accountability to the dispenser of their talents, with an evidently increasing sensibility to spiritual truth, afford reason to believe that they are "growing in grace," although they are but "babes in CHRIST."--Their spiritual improvement in consequence of the character of their instruction, has been gradual, and discoverable more by its effects, than by any thing extraordinary in its commencement or progress. That any new light should suddenly break in upon the juvenile mind, when nurtured in the bosom of the Church, and subjected to a faithful [8/9] course of evangelical training, is hardly to be anticipated, and certainly not more to be desired than those gentle dawnings of heavenly wisdom, which being in analogy, and keeping pace, with the opening of the natural powers, may be expected to shine "more and more unto the perfect day." On this head I will only add that appearances justify the expectation lately expressed by one, [* Bishop White, in his last address to the Convention of Pennsylvania.] from whom such an expectation is the most gratifying testimonial which the Institute has yet received, "that the Church will find in this seminary an efficient agent in the sustaining of our holy religion, and a source of supply to our ministry."
After what has been said, the general government of the school may be readily imagined. It has been wholly paternal in its character, administered in the spirit of kindness and condescension, supported chiefly by private admonition, and avoiding more anxiously the extreme of rigor, than that of indulgence. If the mildness of the regimen maintained has not kept some minor evils in check, the disadvantage has been more than counterbalanced by the contentment, mutual good will, and cheerful obedience which have characterized in general, the members of our numerous family. Whenever a pupil has proved refractory, injurious to his companions, or too troublesome to his instructers, he has been separated [* Of the 103 names upon the roll of the Institute since its commencement, twelve have been stricken off in this way.] by dismissal or otherwise from the Institute.
As far as patronage is an evidence of success we have reason to be satisfied. The notice which the Institution has received from the Bishops and Clergy of our Church, and the opinions of almost all the parents who have placed their sons in our charge, have been as favorable as could be desired. The fact that the number of students is at [9/10] present no greater than at the end of the last session, is to be explained by the recent regulations relative to the age of admission, and the exclusion of the course formerly pursued, of mere English studies in connexion with the modern languages. This change has occasioned the refusal of more than thirty applicants, within the last ten months. When it is recollected that in order to be admitted, a boy must not be under twelve years of age, must have in view a classical education, and conform to the services of a particular Church, our patronage will appear to have been fully equal to any reasonable anticipation.
While, then, the friends of the Institute can be assured of its prosperity with a good conscience, they will, of course, understand that a comparative prosperity is meant. That a public school could be so disciplined as to be wholly purified from bad example, and propitious in all its bearings to the improvement of the mind and the heart, is only to be imagined. Such an institution has inherent evils, as well as peculiar advantages. Great as are the latter, they can never render it a substitute, in the nurture of the gentler virtues, nor in the preservation of simplicity and purity of character, for the sacred and refining influences of a Christian home. Public schools, however, are demanded by the necessities of the existing state of society. The avocations of parents do not allow them to take the education of their children upon themselves, and the day schools of our cities, viewed in connexion with the dangers of promiscuous association, will hardly be preferred on the score of superiority in morals. Hence seminaries removed from the neighborhood of a crowded population, and necessarily large, in order that their patronage may enable them to procure the services of competent instructers, and other advantages in the communication of knowledge, have always had the sanction of society. One of the best things, therefore, that can be done for the public [10/11] good, is to surround these institutions with circumstances favorable to the growth of good principle, to subject them to a faithful, but not inquisitorial supervision; and with this view to give them more of a domestic character than appears in the model of our colleges, to commit them to guardians who will lead their inmates to the fountains of sacred as well as classical literature; in a word, to consecrate all their associations with the hallowing genius, and to rear their whole structure on the enduring basis, of "pure and undefiled religion." Of this nature has been the attempt in the humble sphere of the present institution, of which the past success, though imperfect, is gratefully regarded as an assurance of the good providence of Him, without whom "nothing is strong, nothing is holy."
The opportunity is improved of adding a word to the parents and guardians of our pupils. In the name of my associates, as well as in my own, I would offer the assurance that in proportion to the confidence which you repose in our care, shall be the degree of our exertions to prove that it is not undeserved. In addition to your confidence, we ask your co-operation. The remark is not more trite than true, that the parent must strengthen the hands of the instructor. In one point particularly, your co-operation is desired: I mean that of forbidding unnecessary absence from the Institute in the course of the session. The allowance of such absence, renders the individual whom it is intended to gratify, only the more discontented on his return to his books, retards him in his studies, gives additional trouble to his teachers, and prevents his domestication in the Institute, which, to a certain extent, is essential both to his happiness and his improvement. In the few instances in which the rule on this subject has been relaxed, the consequences have invariably been such as to strengthen the resolution not to acquiesce in a similar request again. The regulation of a long session and but one vacation, was not [11/12] adopted without thought, and experience has proved its utility.
May I venture to advert to another species of mistaken fondness?--Immoderate indulgence at home during the vacation. The privilege of holidays is too often the admitted plea for any extent of gratification, that wantonness or caprice may demand. Because it will end with the return to study, scarcely any indulgence is thought to be unreasonable. The consequence is, that the young gentleman is thus practically taught to consider the place of his education as a kind of prison, for the "durance vile," of which he must be permitted to make the most of his temporary liberty. It is not pretended, that holidays should not be seasons of relaxation and amusement. But why should salutary restraint be so much dispensed with, as to lead the youth to suppose that his parents approve of it, not as valuable in itself, but merely, as the necessary discipline of a school?
And you also, my young friends, let me remind not to abuse the vacation. It is too long, much too long to be spent in mere frivolity and pleasure, or not to be appropriated in part to useful occupation. While it relieves you from the business of the Institute, remember it is no discharge from duty. It dispenses with the severity of study, but it should be no vacation from mental improvement, in the way of profitable reading. Such ought to be your taste, that without books, the holidays would be wearisome. It should be no vacation from the duty thrice blessed, of lifting up your hearts morning and evening to Him, "in whose hands are your ways." It should be no vacation to the daily exercise of pondering the pages of that book which "maketh wise unto salvation." Rather let me hope that the request on this last subject which I now make in parting with you, will be conscientiously remembered--namely, that during the ensuing two months, [12/13] you will read the portions of Scripture as they have been selected for you, and at the appointed time. All of us meditating on the same portions of the inspired volume, as our first duty, every morning, our spirits will be united in one hallowed employment, and thus be adding another thread to the golden cord of Christian friendship, which, having bound us together in the duties of life, shall still be unbroken in the retributions of eternity. Having already given you my farewell advice in the chapel, I have now only to commend you to the benediction of Heaven.
 RULES AND REGULATIONS
TO THE STUDIES AND DISCIPLINE OF THE INSTITUTE.
The reasons, on which several of the following rules are founded, are given at page 18 et seq.
I. THE COURSE OF STUDY.
THE regular classes [* The classes are named after the studies which are begun, or made a leading subject of attention in them.] of the introductory department, with their respective studies, are as follows:
THE GRAMMAR CLASS.
Latin Grammar--Liber Primus--The Latin Reader, 1st part--English Reading and Parsing--Arithmetic--Geography, and Penmanship.
THE LATIN CLASS.
De Viris Romae--the Latin Reader, 2d part--Cornelius Nepos or Caesar: De Bello Gallico--Latin Exercises--Greek Grammar. English Reading and Parsing--Arithmetic--Geography, &c.
THE GREEK CLASS.
Goodrich's Greek Lessons, or Delectus--Portions of the Greek Testament--Lucian's Dialogues--Jacobs' Greek Reader, or Graeca Minora, or a selection from both the latter works--Greek Exercises. Latin Prosody--Phaedrus--Excerpts from Ovid's Metamorphoses, Epistles, &c.--Latin Exercises. Principles of English Pronunciation--Writing of definitions and Sentences--Historical and Chronological Tables--Geography and Arithmetic.
In all the classes of this department, the New Testament, parts of the Old Testament, the Catechism and Liturgy of the Episcopal Church, form the subjects of stated and systematic instruction.
 In the higher department, there are four regular classes, and the course of study in each is calculated for the period of a session, as follows:
THE GEOMETRY CLASS.
Algebra: Colburn and Day--Euclid's Elements of Geometry--Application of Algebra to Geometry. Sallust, with Anthon's Notes--Livy--Translations from English into Latin, and vice versa--Roman Antiquities--The Iliad entire, or extracts from the Iliad and Odyssey--Greek Prosody--Greek Exercises. Ancient History and Geography--Principles of Elocution--English Composition, and Exercises in Speaking. The Holy Scriptures, with particular attention to sacred Geography and Antiquities.--Porteus' Evidences of Christianity.
THE RHETORIC CLASS.
Virgil's Aeneid and Georgics--The Orations of Cicero, and selections from his other works--Graeca Majora, 1st vol.--The Manual of Epictetus--Latin versification, and original Composition in Latin prose.--Greek Antiquities. Plain Trigonometry--Surveying--Mensuration--Navigation--Spherical Geometry and Trigonometry. Blair's Lectures on Rhetoric--English Composition--Exercises in speaking--Ancient and Modern History. The Holy Scriptures, with Gray's Key, or Horne's Introduction abridged.
THE JUNIOR CLASS IN PHILOSOPHY.
Large excerpts from Horace, Juvenal, and Perseus--Tacitus--Graeca Majora, 2d vol.--Greek Prosody--Composition in Latin prose and verse. Analytical Geometry--Conic Sections. Natural Philosophy--Astronomy. Logic, (Hedge's)--English Composition, and Exercises in Speaking--Modern History. The Holy Scriptures--Palsy's Evidences of Christianity, and Natural Theology.
THE SENIOR CLASS IN PHILOSOPHY.
Grotius de Veritate--Longinus--The Greek Testament, critically--Someof the higher Classics, not before used.--Chemistry--Mineralogy and Geology, and, as far as time allows, other branches of Natural Science. Moral, Political, and Intellectual Philosophy--English Composition, and Exercises in Oratory. The Holy Scriptures--Archbishop Seeker's and Bishop White's Lectures on the Church Catechism.
II. AGE OF ADMISSION.
Students are not received at an earlier age than twelve, when they may enter either the Grammar or the Latin Class, according to their qualifications. Candidates for the Geometry Class must not be under fourteen years, and [15/16] proportionably older for any of the higher classes, unless in cases of extraordinary advancement. They must also afford satisfactory evidence of their ability to pursue with advantage, the studies of the class contemplated.
III. TERM OF PROBATION.
''Students are regarded as probationers from one to three months after their first entrance. They participate, however, in all the duties of the Institute, immediately upon their coming; and notice will be given to their parents or guardians, as soon as they are regularly admitted.
IV. TERM OF THE SESSION AND VACATION.
The session continues without interruption throughout the year, excepting the term of vacation which commences on the first Monday in August, and ends on the first Monday of October. The session commences on the last named day.
V. LEAVE OF ABSENCE.
Leave of absence from the Institute during the session is granted only in cases of emergency.
VI. OBEDIENCE, &c.
Obedience to all in authority, and compliance with the internal order and economy of the house, both in the academical and domestic departments, is a fundamental rule of the institute.
VII. RELIGIOUS WORSHIP.
All the students conform to the worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
VIII. THE BOUNDS.
The bounds are the premises of the Institute, which the students do not leave, unless in company with an Instructer, or with the permission of the Principal.
 Privacy of correspondence between the students and their respective parents or guardians, is guaranteed.
When money is required by the students, it must be obtained by an order from the Principal on the Treasurer of the Institute, on condition that the party obtaining it will keep a written and particular account of the items of expenditure, to be exhibited, if desired, to the Principal. The amount thus given to a student will be regulated by a previous understanding with his parents or guardians, and the fact of a student having procured money in any other way than that above specified, will be considered a sufficient reason for his dismissal from the Institute.
XI. DISMISSION, &c.
Offences against order or morality, are punished, according to their degree or frequency, by admonition, suspension, or dismission. Whenever, in the judgment of the Principal and his associates, it is deemed expedient that a student should be separated from the Institute, on account of the injurious tendency of his example, or for other causes, although not chargeable with any specific offence which would justify his dismission, his parents or guardians will be respectfully requested to remove him themselves.
XII. BOOKS, &c.
The domestic character of the Seminary requires, that the Principal should reserve to himself the right of objecting to the introduction of books or articles of any description, which he may consider useless or injurious.
The hours of leisure are daily from half past one o'clock to half past four, and on Saturdays until six o'clock P. M., [17/18] when parents and others visiting the Institute, can see their sons or acquaintances without occasioning an interruption of business. Visits are not received on Sundays.
XIV. TERMS, &c.
The charge for the session is two hundred and fifty dollars, one half to be paid in advance on the first Monday in October, and the other half on the first Monday in March; in addition to which, twenty-five dollars are to be paid on account of every new student, as soon his parents or guardians are notified that he is regularly admitted as a member of the Institute. These charges cover all expenses except those of books, stationary, and instruction in French or instrumental music. For either of the two latter, as they do not belong to the regular course of study, an extra charge is made at the rate of ten dollars per quarter. The former outfit, of bedstead, bedding, cup and spoons, &c., will not be required hereafter.
The uniform dress is a plain suit of dark blue, or gray cloth, black vest and stock for winter; with white vest and pantaloons for summer.
STATEMENT OF THE REASONS
SOME OF THE FOREGOING RULES ARE FOUNDED.
 The Course of Study.--Thisproceeds upon the established opinion, that the classics and pure mathematics afford the surest groundwork of solid education. The plan, whatever be its merits, by which the modern languages and the various branches of natural science are substituted in lieu of a severer discipline, is sufficiently popular, and the public is in no want of schools modelled upon the improvements which it is supposed to present. High schools and polytechnic institutions are multiplying in every direction, to meet all the demands for what is called practical, in opposition to classical, learning. In the zeal for the diffusion of knowledge, and for levelling it to the intellectual abilities of all classes, some care must also be had for the interests of liberal education. Our country, it is to be hoped, will always support schools, by which the rising character of her literature may be maintained, and the genius of her sons cherished and invigorated at the ancient fountains. As one of these, the Institute ventures to present its claims, and accordingly lays the basis of the superstructure it would rear, in the discipline which is derived from ancient literature and mathematical science.
In prosecuting the prescribed course of instruction, the students are required to read large portions, and, in some instances, the whole of the standard authors of antiquity. This regulation is grounded on the conviction, that thorough scholarship is more certainly and rapidly effected by [19/20] the careful reading of a few entire works, than in the common method by which the pupil is carried over extracts from a number of authors, and scarcely allowed time to become familiar with the style or interested in the subject of one, before he is hurried on to another.
The translation of English into Latin, or the composition of Latin, has been a regular exercise in the Institute, and is intended to be continued throughout the course, as one of the most successful methods of habituating the student to accuracy, familiarizing his mind to the idioms of the respective languages, and of bringing into united operation the faculties of judgment, discrimination, and taste. The committing to memory portions of the orators and poets is also practised as an efficient means of securing a correct habit of pronunciation, and of storing the mind with the treasures of classical lore.
The course of mathematics is as extensive as that pursued in our colleges. Proper apparatus will be provided for the illustrations of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry. A mineralogical cabinet has been commenced; and in the study of Botany, should time be found for it, peculiar advantages will be enjoyed in the Institute from its proximity to the well known Linnaean garden in the neighborhood. Extensive attainments in any of the departments of Natural History are not within the scope of collegiate education: it is enough, if the pupil be introduced to a general view of the ground, which afterwards, as taste may dictate or occasion require, he can survey more attentively. Geography, Chronology, and History receive the large share of attention which their practical value and suitableness to the powers of the juvenile mind demand. A taste for the Belles Lettres is assiduously cultivated, in conformity with the classical character of the school, and as congenial in its refining influence with the spirit of Christianity.
In moral, intellectual, and political philosophy, the [20/21] instructers will be satisfied when their pupils shall have attained to clear views of fundamental principles. In accomplishing this, such text books will be used as the writings of Locke, Beattie, and Reid, accompanied by familiar lectures; but the student will not be required to waste his time over works that are fit only for maturer minds, in puzzling himself with the subleties of casuistry, or in wandering among the mazes of metaphysical speculation.--Prospectus of 1830.
The Age of Admission.--Pupilsare not received under twelve; it having been found on trial, that the discipline of the Institute does not operate as efficiently as could be desired upon those of a much earlier age. It might easily be accommodated to such, but then it would as little suit the case of the elder pupils, and it would be difficult to maintain a variety of discipline in the same family. Very young boys, too, derive no benefit from intimacy with companions much older than themselves. Besides other evils arising from it, they are apt to become forward in their manners, and frequently, when they are favorites with their seniors, very difficult of management. Further, if very young boys were received, they would soon form the majority, and the others would leave us at the age to which the regimen of the Institute is supposed to be peculiarly adapted. In the formation of moral character from fourteen to eighteen, or thereabouts, is the most critical period of human existence. It is the great moral climacteric. At this age, when conscience and reason are so seldom listened to amid the frolic of the passions, young persons require all the counsel and care which solicitude in their welfare can afford. At no time either before or afterwards, is affectionate, parental vigilance of such vital importance. When this perilous season is passed abroad, let it be where there is some substitute for such vigilance, not where there is an entire [21/22] want of it, and amid unusual exposure to temptation. It is on this account, and not from any feelings of worldly ambition, that the Principal of the Institute is unwilling that his seminary should be viewed merely in the light of a grammar school. He is afraid to resign his charge at a crisis full of danger, even into the bosom of Alma Mater. Ungrateful, indeed, would be the task, to pilot the youthful mariner along the stream of life only until he reaches the rapids.
The Vacation.--Although this is too long for the benefit of the pupil, it is sufficiently short for the recreation of the Instructer. As soon as circumstances permit, it shall be shortened.
Religious Worship.--Thedecidedly Episcopal character of the School is now sufficiently understood and approved of by the public, so that any further vindication of it is superfluous. The assurance formerly given, however, may be repeated, that in supporting this character, there is nothing of the spirit of bigotry. The pupils are taught to regard the great doctrines of Christianity as of infinitely superior consequence to any of its particular forms, while, at the same time, they are shown the mistake and danger of the liberality which treats the varieties of creed and worship as matters of indifference. Their education in this respect is calculated to cherish an enlightened preference for one among the Churches of Christendom, certainly not the least worthy of their affections, and thus to attach them to a home in the religious world, which may prove the ark of their salvation.
Letters.--Inorder to strengthen as much as possible the confidence of parents in the Institute, perfect freedom of communication with their children, has always been [22/23] secured to them. In return, it is requested, whenever complaints are sent home, that they will be communicated in the first instance to the Principal, and not to others until there has been an opportunity for explanation. Should any one think, that the same privacy ought to be guaranteed to all the correspondence of the students, let him reflect that then there would be no security against the most mischievous communications. To take every precaution against bad company is admitted to be right, but all the injury of bad company may be done through the medium of letters. In vain will be all our salutary precepts at home, if, at the same time, some corrupter may be injecting his poison from abroad. The object is, not to pry into the letters of the pupils, nor to interfere with the enjoyment of freely exchanging their sentiments with their friends at a distance, but to be able to check injurious correspondence, whenever there is reason to believe that it exists. All letters either to or from the Institute, will be faithfully disposed of according to their address. Such, however, as may be suspected of improper contents, will be given to their owners, with the choice either to destroy them immediately, or to allow them to be examined. Very few instances of acting upon this regulation have heretofore occurred, and still fewer, it is believed, will occur hereafter.
Money.--Thestudents find very little use for money (in conformity with the promise originally given to the public); but, as some parents imagine that they must need it, and in rather plentiful supplies, it is expedient to establish a fixed and uniform rule upon the subject. The reasonableness of the one adopted, it is hoped, is obvious. That money, when needed, should be obtained only in the manner specified, is essential to the maintenance of any effectual discipline--for to attempt to control a youth who is independent in pecuniary resources, ought not to be [23/24] required. The condition on which money will be given, viz. willingness to exhibit the items of expenditure, is equally reasonable. A son who asks money of his father ought not to be reluctant to say in what manner he uses it. The father, indeed, may not choose to be very particular in his inquiries, for the sake of exercising the judgment or testing the principles of his son; but he ought never to encourage the latter in demanding supplies, of the use of which he refuses to render an account. Now the privilege of a parent in this particular, whatever it be, should belong, for the time, to the individual to whom the parental authority in other matters, is delegated. In addition to what is right in itself, the rule in question has the recommendation that it will habituate a young person to keep accurate accounts of his expenses, and thus to impress upon him the value of money.
Should it be said, that such regulations as this and the preceding, are inconsistent with the cultivation of independence and manliness of character in young persons, there would be no use in attempting an answer, since the objection evidently proceeds upon views of filial and parental duty, altogether at variance with those which have dictated the discipline of the establishment throughout. Under the influence of our republican institutions, the advances to manliness and independence of character, are sufficiently rapid. It is not the interest of the republic, however, any more than it is their own, that boys should become men before their time.--In a word, the government of a well ordered Christian family, is the model, though imperfectly attained, of the government of the Institute. Let this explain and defend those points in its character, wherein it differs from the collegiate institutions of our country, among which it hopes to obtain, in other respects and in due time, an honorable standing.
STUDY OF THE CLASSICS
BY THE REV. S. SEABURY,
Instructer in the Latin and Greek Languages, and Philosophy of the Mind.
THE Subscriber proposes to edit a few of the more popular Classics, with the view of adapting them to a course of Christian education; and, in announcing the proposal, he begs leave to state in detail the object of the undertaking, and the motives which prompt him to engage in it.
The study of Classical Literature is an indispensable requisite in a course of liberal instruction. This assertion is not advanced without a consciousness of its controvertible character, and of the plausible objections with which it may be assailed. But, in the face of all opposition, the patrons of liberal education may confidently assume the utility of classical studies to be among the fixed principles of their science. The experience of three hundred years, during which time they have been the basis of a higher intellectual superiority than the human mind has ever before attained, and have received in their favor the almost unanimous suffrage of the learned, approximates their utility, as a branch of useful discipline, as nearly to a fixed principle as the nature of probable truth generally allows. In the literary institutions of every civilized nation, classical learning still maintains its ground. It is still valued for the pure models which it presents; for the treasures of knowledge which it unlocks; for the monuments of genius which it discovers; and, above all, for the mental discipline [25/26] which its acquisition affords in the cultivation of a delicate and correct taste, and in forming or strengthening the habits of attention and precision, discrimination and judgment. The ancient languages have been proved to be among the most practical branches of education. They deal not in abstract truth. They supply the mind with a furniture, which, on all the subjects of social life, is a valuable help; on many of the most important, an indispensable qualification for clearness of thought and language. They afford proofs and illustrations, not otherwise attainable, of the progress of opinion, and the arts. They throw much light, not otherwise discernible, on the nature and diversities of human sentiment. They imbody many singular phenomena, not otherwise discoverable, in the philosophy of mind. They clear the way for an easy development of the principles of universal grammar: and they fortify the mind in the independent exercise of its powers by giving it immediate access to those original documents which, on many important matters of fact and opinion, are appealed to as ultimate authorities. Nor should their collateral value as a channel of history be overlooked. They are thus the means of familiarizing the pupil with the scenes of actual life and enriching his mind with the lessons of experience. They keep him continually in the habit of comparing the various modes of thinking and acting that have prevailed among distant nations. They introduce him to a knowledge of human character in its general outlines and individual varieties: and, by presenting him with a succession of actions, which he is unconsciously led to estimate and explain, they habituate his mind to a ready analysis of the passions and principles of mankind.
These, and perhaps other advantages, the reality of which has been proved by experience, have ranked the utility of classical literature among the fixed principles of [26/27] the science of education. Moral truth is not susceptible of demonstration, and is therefore always liable to opposition. From this opposition classical literature has not been exempt. Especially in a new country like ours, where, the current of popular opinion sets so strongly towards experiment and against prescription, it was to be expected that an institution, whose merit consists in the habits which it gradually forms rather than in the amount of convertible capital that it furnishes, would be impugned if not prostrated. But even among ourselves the study of the ancient languages has maintained its ground; and the recent discussions of their value, as a branch of preparatory discipline, have tended to raise them in the public estimation. And, perhaps, it may safely be said that the opposition which they have received, has flowed in a greater degree from the rage for innovation than from the spirit of reform.
It is now nearly three years since the subscriber became associated with the Principal of the Institute at Flushing, in the business of education. The enterprise of that gentleman is generally known. The foundation of the Christian Institute was an attempt to conduct the education of youth on strictly Christian principles: to test the efficacy of motives deep, unchangeable, and uniform, in a work which is commonly supposed to need stimulants that are superficial, momentary, and coercive. It was an attempt to substitute in the conduct of the youthful mind, what is natural, for what is arbitrary; and to exemplify in practice principles which the ablest writers of modern times have been too generally content to maintain in theory. The success of the experiment can scarcely be considered, at present, as problematical: it has surpassed the anticipations of its most sanguine friends.
In devising a system of moral and intellectual discipline, upon strictly Christian principles, it became very important to ascertain the bearing and influence of classical studies. [27/28] On the one hand, deleterious effects were apprehended from the lax principles of Heathen morality; from the impurity of sentiment which often pollutes the classic page, and from the vicious exemplars of moral conduct which are exhibited to the student. These were seen to be dangers of fearful magnitude; and not the less alarming from the insidious charm spread over them by the graces of language and the embellishments of fancy. On the other hand, it was expected that the classic writers would afford many facilities to the teacher for inculcating the necessity, the value, and the truth of Christian doctrine. These anticipations have been verified by experience. It not unfrequently happens that Horace enjoins, in the recitation room, a precept which CHRIST has rebuked in the chapel; and thus the teacher is involved in the practical contradiction of setting before the pupil a model which he censures him for imitating. While at other times, it is found that salutary principles are most effectually enforced by placing a licentious maxim, with its illustration in conduct, in vivid contrast with the pure precepts and examples of Christian ethics.
Hence has arisen the plan of the work now proposed. It is but essaying to advance another step in the completion of a system of Christian instruction. For merely intellectual discipline, classical literature is too valuable an auxiliary to be surrendered. For merely Christian discipline, it deserves to be prized as affording an experimental illustration of the religious wants of humanity, and as opening the mind to other avenues of evidence in behalf of our faith. And yet neither the classics in mass, nor the current selections from them, can be trusted to the young without endangering their moral purity or the integrity of their religious principles. Something then is still wanting to adapt the authors of Heathen antiquity to a course of Christian instruction. They must, as far as possible, be [28/29] Christianized. If brought within the atmosphere of Christian education, they must be redolent of the Christian spirit. Otherwise they are unfit to come in contact with the youthful mind.
The first step in the attainment of the proposed object is the work of expurgation. This should be unsparingly performed. No beauty of language can atone for indelicacy of sentiment; no poignancy of satire can justify the admission of coarseness or obscenity. Not only should the more offensive passages be erased: every word, if possible, liable to perversion should be obliterated, and every image suppressed which can sully the purity of the infant mind. Nor is it enough that the passages themselves be expunged; nothing should be admitted which can lead the learner to suspect their excision. To awaken libidinous curiosity is scarcely less dangerous than would be the attempt to destroy it by satiating it to disgust.
But the good proposed is not merely negative. Classical literature, it is, believed, affords peculiar facilities for opening the truth, inculcating the principles, and infusing the spirit of Christianity. This position may be illustrated by facts.
The theological student, when he begins systematically to examine the evidences of his faith, is surprised to find a vast array of facts, with which his classical reading has made him familiar, but the connexion of which, with the subject he is about to investigate, he had but partially estimated, or not at all anticipated. Do Grotius and Stillingfleet undertake to convince him of the veracity of the Mosaic history? They make an immediate draught on him for all his knowledge of ancient profane history and for much of his Heathen mythology. Does he follow Mede and Newton in the path of prophecy? Here again historical knowledge that can be gleaned only from the classics is brought into requisition. Would he weigh the [29/30] arguments of Barrow and Horsely laying the foundation for the superstructure of the Christian faith in the eternal principles of moral truth? He is referred at once to the finest passages of Heathen antiquity for a large share of that universal consent which proves the immutability and eternity of the distinctions in moral sentiment. Does he turn to Leland urging the necessity of a revelation to define, with greater precision, the true boundaries between virtue and vice, right and wrong, and to fortify their practical observance by means of penal sanctions and legislative authority? Again he must gather his proofs, in regard to the reality and extent of the deficiency, from the authors whom he has read at school or college. Do the writers on sacrifice insist on the various speculative and practical bearings of the doctrines of the cross? Scarcely a poet, an orator, or historian of antiquity, but is appealed to for illustrations of the nature of sacrifice, or the sentiments with which it was offered. Does he consult Lardner or Paley on the genuineness or authenticity of the inspired records? And would he be less likely to estimate the force of their arguments, by having applied the same criteria to Caesar or Livy, or by having traced the coincidences between the orations against Cataline and the narrative of Sallust? In short, there are few branches of the Christian evidences which, in many of their details, are not intimately interwoven with the relics of classical lore.
Now we simply ask, why cannot the pupil be taught the value of this knowledge while he is acquiring it? Is there so little skepticism in the world, that these bearings of classical learning should be pointed out only to the professed student of theology? Is knowledge, which is gradually obtained and made to assimilate with the mind in the whole progress of its development, likely to be less lasting or less efficacious than when acquired, at a subsequent period of life, in a detached and insulated form? Is it less philosophical [30/31] to teach the pupil to collect separate facts, with the view to frame for himself a general induction, than to make him afterwards learn the hypothesis, and take on credit the proofs, of some Aristotelian doctor? Is it less interesting to go from particulars to generals than to encounter the frigid technicalities of an artificial system? We think that reflecting men will answer such questions in the negative. We think that those who are competent to judge, will not deny that the study of the classics instead of exercising, as to a considerable extent it has, a baneful influence on the youthful mind, may be rendered a powerful auxiliary in the elevation of moral character.
Here, then, is the defect which the subscriber, should his proposal meet with approbation, will endeavor to remedy; here is the end which he aims to accomplish. He does not doubt that much may be done, he hopes that much is done towards the attainment of this object, by means of oral instruction. But he conceives that the result may be gained more effectually, and at less expense of time and labor for the pupil and teacher, by means of judicious notes. Let the fragments of Heathen tradition, and such of the legends of mythology as are the distortions of sacred truth, be traced to and compared with their bright originals. Let the importance of those passages which tend to prove universal agreement in the principles which are the foundation of moral and religious truth, be pointed out as they occur. Let those maxims of conduct, and those examples of life which illustrate the imbecility of human reason and the perverseness of the human affections in the investigation and practice of moral truth, be urged on the attention of the pupil, as so many antecedent probabilities that divine illumination would be shed on the darkness of the general mind. Let courage and friendship and patriotism, which possess such fascinations for the youthful bosom, and are destined to exert over it so mighty a sway either for good [31/32] or ill, and which are exhibited on the classic page in a light more brilliant than pure, be occasionally analyzed, and their examples referred to the character of JESUS CHRIST as the legitimate standard of moral worth: and as the student gazes, with mingled admiration and sorrow, on the perversions of these complex endowments, let Christianity inform him of the noble ends to which, under her auspices, they have been and may still be directed. Let the same page which dazzles the reader with the splendid ambition of an Alexander or Caesar, or disgusts him with the loathsome enormities of a Heliogabalus or a Nero, remind him that the same or similar principles are dormant in his youthful heart, and thus convince him of his personal need of a Saviour, by whose aid alone they can be controlled or eradicated. Let the pomp of superstition be made to illustrate the singular efficacy of Christianity, as the only system which has instituted a necessary connexion between religious belief and moral practice. Let the theory of animal sacrifice, with all its important concomitants, be placed in its true light: and let not the salutary lesson be lost, which records the practical confession of the wisest of the Heathen world, of their alienation from their Maker and their ignorance of the mode of restoration. In fine, let the attempt be continually made to fix the attention of the pupil on every opinion and every fact which may elucidate the being and attributes of GOD or the moral wants and capabilities of man; which may evince the necessity of a revelation from heaven to enlighten the understanding and renew the heart; which may attest the superior excellence of Christian morality, and the superior efficacy of Christian principle; which may instruct the pupil in the knowledge of himself; inculcate and cherish humility; excite and sublimate devotion; purify and elevate the affections. In a word, let classical literature be Christianized. Let this be done, and Christianity will have gained a new auxiliary [32/33] in the renovation of mankind; and an extensive tract of human learning will have been reclaimed and fertilized with the waters of life.
It is believed, too, that in the present state of public sentiment, the course here delineated offers a medium ground, on which conflicting opinions may be reconciled. Many who duly appreciate the study of the ancient languages in the discipline of the mind, would exclude the Latin and Greek in favor of the Hebrew, as being more congenial with the feelings and principles of the Christian community. The writer is far from undervaluing the importance of the Hebrew tongue. In a complete system of education he would assign it a prominent rank; and perhaps the study of it may most advantageously precede the study of the languages of Greece and Rome. But for these languages the friends of what is, in the strictest use of the term, classical literature, could never admit the Hebrew as a substitute. They may, however, consistently advance so far as to present to their pupils the authors of Heathen antiquity arrayed in a Christian garb; while, by this concession, the opposing party would gain a removal of their objections, and the facilities which they desire of blending religious and secular instruction.
Such are the leading features of the plan which the subscriber contemplates, in proposing to adapt a few of the more popular of the Greek and Roman Classics to a course of Christian education. The extent of the selection will be regulated by the wants of the Institution with which he is connected; and, in conformity to the design expressed in the last prospectus of the Principal, will comprise such authors as, it is conceived, may be most advantageously used in the higher classes of schools or at college. The sole object of the notes will be utility: hence they will be simple and concise. The philological notes will be calculated to remove difficulties and afford facilities in construction; [33/34] and, by pointing out the force and precision of the author's meaning, and illustrating the beauties and proprieties of his style, to excite critical acumen, and to cherish a taste for the graces of polite literature.
The object in issuing this prospectus is to ascertain, in some degree, the reception with which such a work is likely to meet, and to elicit the opinions of competent judges on the prospect of utility which it offers. That the study of the classics as ordinarily pursued has exercised a questionable moral influence on the youthful mind, can hardly be denied. The evil has been matter of observation and regret with many persons of piety and talent: and partial attempts have been made at different times to remove it. Of late years the subject has been revived with much interest. Indications have been given of a decided hostility to classical discipline on religious grounds. Should this spirit increase, and connect itself with the opposition which already exists in the merely practical or scientific world, a result may be anticipated which is equally to be deprecated by the enlightened friends of knowledge and the sober advocates of Christianity. How far the plan here unfolded is calculated to remedy the evil, and to place an invaluable branch of discipline on a more permanent basis, is respectfully submitted to the opinion of the public; and the subscriber accordingly invites the attention of the friends of education to the measure, and requests their free communications in reference to its probable results, and their suggestions as to the best means of ensuring its success. Should the plan be favorably received, the execution will be attempted without delay.
Christian Institute, Flushing, L. I., April 18, 1831.