Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][subsumed][merged small][graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

AN EXTEMPORE LECTURE DELIVERED AT EXETER HALL, APRIL 19, 1842. BY J. P. KAY SHUTTLEWORTH, ESQ.

By the permission of Mr. KAY SHUTTLEWORTH, we are enabled to present our readers with the following Lecture, which was taken in short-hand. The reader's interest therein will probably be increased by referring to the Notes which we have appended to it.

LADIES and GENTLEMEN, I must request your indulgence if, this evening, I should make myself less distinctly heard than I could wish, as it has been with difficulty that I have been able to appear here to-night; and I trust that the same indulgence will be kindly extended by you to the matter which I shall have to bring before you.

In order to clear away any misconception that might be entertained as to the objects intended to be served by our assemblage this evening, I think it desirable to state that I appear here solely in my private capacity,-certainly as an anxious, and I trust a disinterested promoter of elementary education; but not authorised in any way by any body or person to appear before you to promulgate any other opinions than my own.

It is also desirable that we should bear in mind the nature of the relations which have happily been established between the members of the several Classes attending Exeter Hall, and the directors of this great public institution. We have hitherto proceeded on terms of mutual concurrence; we have desired to assist each other-to proeure mutual benefits for each other-on the one hand, the benefit of co-operation in promoting the great general objects of education, and on the other the benefit to each individual of rendering his own sphere of action more productive. I trust that you will be good enough to regard me in everything that I say this evening as a fellow-labourer with yourselves. I ask for your sympathy and concurrence in the general objects which I have in view; and I trust that sympathy with these general objects will enable you to view without suspicion, and with a large measure of charity at least, the special matters I may bring under your notice. The subject of this lecture has been announced as "The Constructive Method of Teaching." Its object is to make you aware what bond of principle connects the several classes that have been established in Exeter Hall for the instruction of persons belonging to different orders of the community.

I distinguish between two classes of methods in elementary schools: Methods of Organization, and Methods of Instruction. The methods of organizing schools might each be very fruitful subjects cf observation and discussion. For example, I might occupy your time by speaking concerning that method which is known in this country as the monitorial method of organizing schools; and abroad, as the mutual method of instruction. The subject which I have to treat to-night differs from all questions connected with the organization of elementary schools, although it is allied to those questions; but it has this peculiarity, that it disturbs nothing on which controversy has hitherto arisen in this country,-it threatens no existing interest. It has never yet been made the subject of debate among parties in England. It is a neutral ground, which I trust I may be allowed to occupy without exciting opposition: a neutral ground, upon which I trust I may be allowed to conciliate a large amount of co-operation from all who are interested in the improvement of elementary education in this country, to whatever class of schools they may belong. It has VOL. XXI.

never been my desire to raise any question or controversy which should interfere directly or indirectly with the interests of any class of schools; and I strive to guide my personal efforts by a maxim, which cannot be too strongly impressed on all who desire to be improvers in any department-the maxim, that more is gained by the exposition of truth than by the refutation of supposed error. wish, therefore, to be understood as claiming to occupy, in the lecture I deliver to-night, a ground entirely neutral. It is my intention to touch no subject of controversy which affects any existing interest in this country.

I

If the preceding motives were insufficient to determine the character of my personal efforts, I should feel bound to adopt this course because the principle by which the Committee of Council on Education have distinguished their proceedings has been to avoid as much as possible raising questions which might excite conflict.

In publishing, for example, their plans of school houses, the Committee of Council have been careful to give plans of the methods of organization which have been introduced into this country, and of the three characteristic methods prevalent in foreign countries. They have expounded one class of these plans somewhat more fully than others, because these others were more familiarly known; but they have left the adoption of these plans very much to the gradual influence of public opinion.

I might also refer to the course which the Committee of Council on Education have taken in reference to the preparation of the Manual of Music, which has been so successfully adapted to English use by Mr. Hullah, and with which the greater part of you are more or less acquainted. That manual was not prepared for any one class of schools. The larger portion of the preliminary matter which relates to the organization of schools refers to the monitorial system of instruction prevailing in this country, because that system was the most widely diffused; but the method is equally applicable to that technically termed "the mixed method," or that called "the simultaneous method" of organization and instruction. It was the object of the Committee to prepare the Manual of Singing first for introduction into the monitorial schools, but not to neglect its applicability to those founded upon the mixed or simultaneous principle.

I have nothing more to do this evening with the general question of the organization of schools, than to state in these preliminary remarks, the place which what I have to say holds in relation to the general question. holds an entirely neutral position. The various adapta

It

tions of the Constructive method which I shall have to bring under your observation are applicable-with greater or less facility undoubtedly, but still applicable-to schools founded on the monitorial system of instruction, to schools founded on the mixed method, and to schools founded on the simultaneous method of organization.

I intend chiefly to draw your attention to-night to the Constructive Method, as applied to the art of teaching very young children to read-to that of teaching children to write -to one mode of arithmetical instruction, and, as adapted to teaching the drawing of form.

You are doubtless aware that for the last twenty years the question of method has been cultivated with assiduity, and success, amongst those of the continental nations which have made the improvement of elementary education a subject of legislation. It appeared reasonable that some inquiry

647

should be made whether these improvements in method were characterized by any general accordance, or whether they differed in each country, both in principle and in detail, and whether in any case the change was the result of proceeding in a direction contrary to the rest. For the purpose of solving this question, a considerable number of books which had been published on the subject of method, and many schools which were supposed to contain the characteristics of different methods of instruction, were examined; and the result showed, that there were prevalent two distinct classes of methods in the schools which had received the greatest developement in the different states of Europe. The first of these classes of methods is the "Constructive," which it is my object in some degree to define to-night; the other, prevalent to an exceedingly less extent, is the "Analytic" method. In ordinary teaching, in schools where there is little care to observe system in the arrangement of the subject; where matters are taken much at haphazard; where authority is much employed, and the memory almost solely depended upon, one or other of these methods may be mixed up with greater or less congruity with the other. It is difficult to avoid using one or other in some degree, except in schools which make no pretension whatsoever to skill, where reliance is placed on mere dogmatisın, where the memory of the child is required to receive that which it does not understand, and coercion is employed as the means of enforcing attention. But in all schools except the purely dogmatic,-(where authority is employed to load the memory with what is not understood,)-there is a tendency either on the one side towards the Analytic, or on the other to the Constructive method.

pur

I will endeavour to explain what these two technical terms mean. The advocate of what I designate the analytic method, was M. Jacotot. M. Jacotot taught that the best method of giving instruction in reading was to take up almost any book; to open the first page, to begin with the first word, to teach the child to read that word, then proceed to the second word, and so on. It was a matter of secondary importance to M. Jacotot, whether the book was the work of an author of merit in point of style, or whether it was written in monosyllables. In fact, he preferred a work somewhat distinguished as to style. What he required was that the child should be taught to read the first word-(he taught it of course with difficulty), then the second; then the third; and so on. Probably the first day was expended in teaching the child three words. The next day perhaps the child learned five other words; and the third day perhaps some more. Every day he recommenced at the beginning of the sentence-going over the course sued the previous day, and gradually advancing till the child had mastered a connected sentence or paragraph. He preferred, of course, taking a book that was interesting to the child,but he did not lay great stress on the nature of the book selected. You perceive that what the child had to do was a work of analysis. The teacher stood by the child, secured its attention, assisted it by his conversation, in making it acquainted with the meaning of the words and the collective meaning of the sentence; but as to all that was mechanical in learning the signs of sounds, of which I shall speak more fully immediately, the child had to depend on its own unassisted faculties. There was no attempt on the part of the teacher to reconcile such incongruities as I shall bring under your attention. All this was absent from the teacher's mind. The child for instance had to reconcile the fact that there are twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, and eighty-six sounds, and that these sounds are all represented by these letters. He had to find out when it was that A represents one of the four sounds which from time to time it indicates; and so on with respect to the other vowel sounds, and the difference arising from diphthongal connection-double or treble consonant sounds, and the effects of consonants in modifying vowel sounds, all these had to be learned as mere matters of memory. What the child learned was, to recognise words by processes exactly similar to those undergone in learning the signs of thought in Chinese, each word or symbol of thought being different from most others. That is the Analytic method-pushed to the extreme,-requiring everything to be done by the child.

The Constructive method is of a totally different character. I will take up the subject of reading first, as I have already referred to M. Jacotot's method of teaching, and endeavour to define what is the process adopted in teaching to

* See Note A

read by the Constructive system. One might regard the question of teaching to read from various points of view. None of these subjects are perfectly simple; they are all more or less complicated. I shall show you after I have regarded the subject of learning to read in one point of view, that it may be looked at from various others, and that we might devise a Constructive method from each of those points of view.

In learning to read, a child has to learn the signs of sounds, combined into words, and these combined into sentences. The most obvious step is to make the child aware, first, that a word consists of separate sounds, which would not be otherwise apparent to a mere child; and the duty of the teacher upon the Constructive method of teaching to read is, himself to analyse, in the hearing of the child, some of the most familiar and simple words. For example, the teacher might select the word Man. If a child were asked if it knew whether the word man consisted of one or more soundsit would say it contained but one sound. A child could have no idea that the word could be analysed into three separate sounds; and supposing we were to pursue the Analytic method the child would be left to find this out, if indeed it were a matter of any utility in that system to discover it. In the Constructive method, analysis is the

duty of the teacher.

The child would be made acquainted with the simple sounds of which a word is composed, by the master proceed ing to analyse in its hearing certain words in most familiar use, until he had made the child acquainted with the vowel sounds, and then with the consonant sounds. It would, for example, be the duty of the master to make the child acquainted with the fact that the word "man" consists of three simple sounds, the first signified by the letter "m," the next by the letter "a," and the third by the letter " n. He would not tell it the names of the letters; but having analyzed the word, he would attribute to each letter its sound thus, "m-a-n."

[ocr errors]

Now, the ordinary mode in which children are taught to read, includes a great deal of what what is analytic, not constructive. An ordinary spelling or reading book is composed in the following way. The child has first to learn the names of the letters, a, b, c, d, e, f, g, &c. With the exception of four of the vowel sounds, there is no letter in the whole of the alphabet which, by its name, could give a child any idea of the sound it was intended to represent. He has therefore learned the names of the letters first, they are more easy of pronunciation than the sounds; but the syllabic combinations which are devised as the easiest step in the ordinary process of teaching to read, are almost as arbitrary as the names of the letters. Thus, in ba-, when followed by -, the sound of a is altogether different from the sound of this letter when ba-is followed by -te, and they both differ from its sound when ba- is followed by - or by -r. To teach a child to read by means of syllabic combinations is therefore as ar bitrary as to teach the child by the mere names of the letters -the child has to find out for himself which of the four sounds of the vowel a is to be used in every combination of that vowel. It is a matter of dogmatism to teach the child to read by such a method, by authority, without any appeal to the reason. Such teachers commonly suppose the difficulty is mastered if the first lesson consists of monosyllabic words. Let us take an example, the word thought, and see if the difficulty is got over. It seems a very word; but how is a child, who comes to exercise its reason, to be satisfied that t-h-o-u-g-h-t represents the sound thought? T-h-o-u-g-h-t spells nothing but t-h-o-u-g-h-t in each separate enunciation of sound; there is no apparent reasonable connection in the combination and the resulting sound.

that

short

It is to be confessed that the difficulties in the way of applying the Constructive method of teaching to read to the sounds of the English language are great. Throughout the whole of Germany, and a large portion of Switzerland, the usual methods of teaching to read, are methods such as I shall attempt generally to describe.-The system is called there Laut methode, founded on an analysis previously made of the varieties of sound in the language,-for the sake of brevity I shall characterise it as the Phonic method.

In attempting to make a similar analysis of the English language we have to overcome the great difficulties arising from the peculiar sources of our language. The insular position of our country, in connection with its successive invasions and internal changes, has made our language a reservoir of the varieties of sound of all nations on

each

the continent with the exception of the Sclavonic. Our language contains almost every variety of vowel sound. The only remarkable exception certainly is the Sclavonic sounds that have not been introduced into this country. It is therefore much nore difficult to analyse, according to its phonic peculiarities, a language composed of such heterogeneous materials than to analyze a language of a more simple construction. The language which in Europe might be most easily analysed would be the Italian-probably next to that the Spanish-next to that, I should say, the German,-probably next the French-and then the English-the most difficult of analysis. It must therefore be remembered that in proportion to the difficulties that exist on the part of any one who applies months of careful examination to this analysis -in the same proportion are there difficulties to be overcome by the child in reconciling the apparent contradictions that oppose his knowledge of the art of reading in that language. It is impossible to take up any one of the Primers now in use in the schools of this country without perceiving in page contradictions of the most obvious but extraordinary character, which must be sources of vexation to a child. Perceiving the difficulties of this subject-(I fear I must cut short my observations on this point, as the hour rapidly flies away, and I have other matter to engage our attention) -perceiving the difficulties of this subject, the Committee of Council thought it their duty to endeavour to surmount these obstacles. They felt it was occupying neutral ground to endeavour to improve the schools of this country, by the publication of new methods of instruction, leaving to the masters and promoters of these schools to determine whether these methods could be introduced with advantage or not, or whether in any way they obstructed the general organization of the schools. For this purpose a gentleman was selected, who was thoroughly acquainted with the principles on which the Phonic method was taught in Germany; he was brought over to this country; he was employed during three or four successive months in making an analysis of words according to their phonic peculiarities in accordance with the principles adopted in Germany. Since the termination of his labours the manuscript has not made such rapid progress as might have been desired, but I am happy to say that measures will probably soon be adopted which will ensure its early publication.

The child is therefore first taught the signs of certain vowel-sounds, then the combination of these vowelsounds with certain tone consonants into words, admitting no word into any lesson except what is strictly a combination of a vowel-sound with a tone consonant; and after exhausting words falling under that head, proceeding to combinations with the hissing consonants, and so on in succession. In the course of these combinations, it is found, that various other subjects which require to be treated according to the laws of construction are presented to the analyst. For example, there are in every language combinations in which the sounds of various signs are modified; and it becomes important to contrive that every one of these varieties shall be brought singly before the mind of the child, apart from all others, in the order of their simplicity. The work of the analyst is confined to the arrangement of the sounds of language; but in constructing sentences, he forms lessons to accompany the several classes of words. The sentences first used should relate simply to objects: next the most obvious and simple qualities of objects should be introduced; but the motions, actions, mutual relations of objects, which complicate the structure of a language and form its grammar, should only be introduced in the order of their simplicity, ascending from the simple to the more complex.

From the very general description I have attempted to give of a subject of considerable intricacy, it is obvious that in the construction of the ordinary English Primers there have been omitted a great variety of considerations which they should have included. In fact to teach a child to read by an ordinary Primer is to ask it to perform the work of analysis-a work of difficulty; or to do another thing, of still more obvious error, to teach a child what it cannot understand, and what is apparently contradictory, by the mere influence of authority.

On this last subject permit me to say that the law of kindness can never be established in schools, until both the general promoters of education and the asters of schools will consent to regard the children placed under their care as rational creatures, whose minds, feeble and unexercised-having powers as yet little instructed or developed-are not capable of the great efforts which minds of a higher and more instructed order can perform with ease, but which can be not merely affrighted, In this mode of instructing children by the sounds of not merely puzzled, not merely made to disbelieve the the language, I said it would be the duty of the teacher teacher, not merely divested of all interest in the subject of As a preliminary step to show the child that words can instruction, but made school-rebels in a very short time by be analysed into separate sounds; and, having established applying the authority of the master to load the memory of this conviction in the mind of the child, his next step the child not only with what it does not understand, but would be to proceed by construction, or synthesis, to with what is revolting to its understanding. The moral teach the child how to unite these sounds together so discipline of a school is so inseparably connected with the as to form words. At this stage the peculiarities of adoption of rational methods of instruction, that if the the Constructive method develope themselves. The master be unable to perform the work of an analyst so as rule upon which any method strictly constructive depends to give young children tasks proportionate to their ability, for its success is, that whatever is simple is first brought he cannot succeed in enforcing his instruction on their under the attention of the child; and the person who memories, unless he will also consent to be a tyrant; makes the analysis, must determine with great care for he will encounter listlessness, apathy, and ultimately what is easiest of acquisition, in order that the easiest rebellion and disorder; and he can only restore his school step may be taken by the unexercised powers of the into subjection by requiring the children to do what they child. I must request you to bear in mind, what are unwilling to perform, and by punishing them if they are the peculiarities of the organization of a child, disobey. So general is the belief that this is the proper and the great difficulty there must be for a feeble, unde- discipline of a school, that it is customary to encounter veloped mind, when not exercised in processes of thought, incredulity, when it is confidently asserted that no school to make any extensive or laborious combination. The can be well regulated which depends chiefly upon any work we should ask of a very young child, should be other influence than the influence of affection and reason strictly infantile. You ought not to ask from a child for its success, and that no school therefore can be well That demand is made by the regulated that depends chiefly on the influence of authoAnalytic method. In selecting the first steps of instruc-rity. It is difficult, if not impossible, without introtion to a child, especially in a branch so purely elemen- ducing the characteristic law of the teaching of Christitary as reading, it is of the utmost importance that anity-the suasive influence which can alone regulate they should be of the simplest character. What has the affections, conciliate the good will, and carry captive appeared to all persons who have formed a constructive the whole nature of the children, to make them listen method on the phonic analysis of language to be the with eager interest to your instruction, and submit their simplest step, is first to acquaint the child with the signs of consciences to the moral law, much less to inspire them the vowel-sounds. Then the Germans distinguish certain with religious sentiments and convictions. You must thus Consonants into which the vowel-sounds enter as a larger consent to regard them as rational creatures, whose mind Component part than others, which consonants they denomi- it is necessary to furnish, not with contradictions, but with ate tone consonants. After this they describe certain truth. other consonants as hissing consonants; and they proceed to a third class which are called "bursting" consonants, from the peculiarity of their enunciation, bursting as it were from the lips So on they proceed through certain classes,

the labour of a man.

I request your attention for a few moments to a mechanical contrivance. I have not done justice to the general principle; but as I have other matter to bring before you, I trust you will pardon the incompleteness of what I have said. This box is usually employed in teaching

reading on the Phonic method in Holland and Germany. | The sides of the box contain letters arranged according to their sounds; for the English Language there are eighty-six divisions. The children become very rapidly familiar with the arrangement of these letters in the side boxes. The master first combines the letters into words, which are placed in the central compartment of the box. A variety of lessons can thus be performed, the children going in front of the box, combining letters and. thus forming words, correcting each other, and by degrees composing sentences. In fact, by this means the task of learning to read becomes a pastime. You have probably forgotten your own feelings in learning to read by the ordinary method; but observe some of your little friends undergoing this species of mental torture, watch the children toiling with perplexing combinations,-exercising their memory without any employment of their judgment,-they wear no appearance of pleasure or hilarity, they are the most unwilling drudges of the school.

first, by oblique lines at the same distance from each other,
and then by horizontal lines at equal distances; the object
being thus to indicate the inclination of letters, next, their
height, and then their breadth; and with respect to either
height, or breadth, or form, the names given to the elements
of the letters are each the sign of a rule easily compre-
hended by the children, and which defines the form of each
letter. In dictating the separate names of these elements
the teacher at the same time announces the law which
For example the
determines the form of the letters.
first, would consist in writing a right line; and that I
believe is the common process in all methods of teaching to
write. The next would be to combine this right line with
a curve at the bottom. It is very easy to call this a right
line, and describe it as proceeding through one height, and
thus to announce the rule.-

[The remainder of these illustrations could not be followed in short-
hand.]

The greatest difficulty in applying the Phonic method Perhaps I have said enough to show you how these forms is, that the lessons for reading, being constructed on phonic have been analysed; and how, always ascending from the laws, must have a certain degree of constraint; and the sub- simple to the more complex, the rule defining the letter is ject must be limited by the same rule. Mr. Wood, of announced. Besides the analysis and the definition of the Edinburgh, published some useful lesson books, the general rule by means of a name, a master would by this method be arrangement of which has been followed in other class enabled to teach simultaneously a large school of three or books for elementary schools, and has been admirably imi- four hundred, supposing the children all of one proficiency tated and improved by the Commissioners of National-by simply putting up a monitor at one end of the room Education in Ireland, whose reading lessons depend for their popularity and success on the extent of useful information which they convey. Mr. Wood has happily characterised his method as the Intellectual method, because he depends upon the variety and extent of useful information which his books contain, for the interest with which he inspires the children, and the efforts he thus calls forth to surmount the ordinary difficulties of learning to read. To render the ordinary reading lessons a vehicle of well arranged, compact and useful information, is an advantage of great value that ought to be combined with the phonic analysis of sounds in any work for teaching children to read upon a Constructive method.

to dictate to the others. I have seen in schools of from three to five hundred in Paris* and Geneva, a monitor dictating the different forms of letters while the children wrote them down, and I was surprised to find on inspecting their copybooks few errors committed.

I need scarcely detain you by entering into the gene-. ral question of the utility of the subject which I have next to bring under your attention. I desire to speak to you now of the Constructive method of teaching drawing. It is quite obvious I trust to all of what great utility in a manufacturing and commercial country, drawing is to all classes of the people. I think I do not exaggerate when I say that it is perhaps of greater immediate importance, as You will find an admirable chapter on this subject in Mr. a means of bettering their condition of life, to the humbler Edgeworth's work on "practical education," to which I orders, the working classes of the community, than to any would solicit your attention. The chapter is "On Tasks;” | other. In treating the question of drawing, I wish to and deals with all the difficulties I have attempted to des- separate in your minds two objects commonly united in cribe; and so far as prevalent errors are concerned it schools of design. The question before us might be what is exposes them with singular felicity, and indicates the first the best method of improving the taste of any class in this steps to be taken for the improvement of methods of teach-country-of improving the art of design in relation to what ing to read. Such of the audience as are schoolmasters cannot do better than give their earnest attention to the whole work.

With these remarks I must dismiss the subject of teaching to read, and solicit your attention for a few moments to a constructive method of teaching to write. In one

of the cantons of Switzerland, the canton of Zurich, the master of the normal school of Kusnacht obtained the approbation of the government to a decision which I think you will at first sight regard as somewhat extraordinary, but which on reflection you will perceive is not unreasonable. M. Scher succeeded in introducing into the schools of the canton of Zurich the plan of teaching the children to write before they were taught to read. The object of this departure from the usual order was to employ the faculty of imitation, which is so strong in young children, and thus to secure their attention at the earliest period, first to the forms of written letters, and afterwards to the forms of printed letters. He taught writing by the Constructive method, although his analysis was not perfect. There are on these boards certain letters which will explain to you the method of teaching to write, introduced first by M. Mulhauser in Geneva, and which has since spread into France, where it is taught in some of the normal schools. This method of teaching to write depends for its success upon the principles I have described at greater length with respect to the mode of teaching to read. It depends on a very careful analysis of the forms that enter into the usual written characters, presenting to the child, first, the simplest, afterwards in series the more difficult forms-combining the elementary forms into letters in the order of their comparative simplicity, and writing words at each step containing only the elementary forms which have entered into previous lessons. The first form to be drawn according to this method is one which is not separately represented on the board. I presume you will all, even at a distance perceive that the board is divided,

is beautiful, and so arriving in any department of commerce or art, at the perfection of taste. There is another view of the question which I am more concerned to bring under your attention to-night, because it appears to be that which is naturally associated with the developement of elementary schools,-I mean the cultivation of the drawing of form as distinguished from the elevation of taste. You are aware that one of the greatest difficulties which the manufacturers of this country have to contend with is the extreme rarity of any considerable cultivation among artisans either of taste, or of skill in drawing form. I believe that the fortune of many a poor man engaged in the great manufactories of this country, has been wrecked because, though he possessed acute and sagacious conceptions as to mechanical combinations, he was unable to give them expression by drawing the form of the machine he had conceived; whereas if he had cultivated that power, he would have been enabled to describe perfectly his new mechanical combinations, which would have made his services of such advantage to his employer that he might have aspired to become a partner in the commercial engagements of the house in which he was employed, and probably, have secured to himself a large rate of profit.

On the other hand I am very well aware that extreme difficulty is experienced among the manufacturers of the country in securing to themselves from among their workmen, persons who have taste in drawing beautiful patterns. In all those departments of commerce into which taste, either in colour or form, enters as an ingredient of the price of any of the articles brought to the market, it is acknowledged that the manufactures of the continent, and particularly of France, excel our own; and you know that in the evidence given before the Committee on the Copyright of Designs, it has been acknowledged, that in silks and printed calicoes, and in other departments of manufactures, wherever design enters as an element into price, the manufacturers of this country

See Note B,

1

are accustomed to obtain their patterns from Paris. A necessary appendage to every great silk manufactory, and to every great calico-printing manufactory in this country, is an agency in Paris, I do not use the term offensively, for the piracy of designs. A very large portion of the designs used in this country are procured by this agency, and by means of our natural facilities, our coal and iron, and the unequalled industry and perseverance of our artisans, these patterns are re-produced in a cheaper form than in France. But it would add greatly to the wealth of this country, if, instead of being dependent on obtaining these designs from abroad, we could produce them by our own native talent; the existence of such an agency, compels the French manufacturers to make their engagements with the utmost secresy, and to stipulate that both in the foreign, colonial, and home markets, their patterns shall not be exhibited one day before the proper season, lest the English manufacturers, who cannot procure the taste among their own workmen requisite for the production of such patterns, should forestall the sale by the greater cheapness of their articles if the patterns could be pirated. If we in this country had cultivated the arts of design, to the same extent as the artisans of France, we should have had a means of pre-eminence in foreign markets, which we do not at present possess. Surely then it is an object of great national importance, to secure the cultivation of taste among the artisans of this country. But that is not the subject to which I wish to-night specially to draw your attention. The cultivation of taste belongs, not exclusively perhaps, but chiefly, to the schools of design. One of these has been established, and I am happy to say is flourishing, under the immediate patronage of Government, at Somerset House, another in Spital-fields, another in Manchester, and there are others in the great mercantile towns. They have commenced a work of great importance to the country; and we wish them the greatest success. But, previously to the cultivation of taste for what is beautiful, and the successful cultivation of skill in drawing the beautiful, it is first necessary, that we should be able to draw form. We are of opinion that the proper province of the elementary school is the drawing of form, without relation to taste. I will give you the grounds of that opinion in as few words as I can.

There is not a more pleasing spectacle in any part of Europe than the evening schools of Paris. There it was that I first had the great satisfaction of witnessing the triumph of that method of teaching vocal music-the method of M. Wilhem, which has been introduced with such success by Mr. Hullah in Exeter-hall*. In the evening schools, great bodies of working men assemble-men grey in years-men who were employed during the revolutionary wars of France,-conscripts, drawn from their homes when the elementary instruction of France was unorganized, and who had enjoyed no education; such men as these assemble for the purpose of instruction in the mere rudiments of elementary education, reading, writing, arithmetic, &c., When I was in Paris there were six hundred male adults assembled every night in the normal school of Versailles alone to receive instruction in reading, writing, and music. But in the schools scattered throughout Paris other objects are included, and among these is instruction in drawing.

The methods pursued for instruction in drawing up to a very recent period had relation chiefly to the cultivation of taste. I have had a few plates taken out of a large work on this subject placed on the canvas behind.

I

This work was intended for those schools of design in which I found the main object was to cultivate the taste. It is a Work of exceeding ingenuity, and constructive to a large extent, proceeding from the simple to the more complex. have here several other works of the same description, all intended for drawing schools in Paris attended by large numbers of the working population. Nothing is more common, on entering these schools, than to see working men who have quitted their daily toil at six or seven o'clock, working from eight to ten, two or three nights a week, acquiring the arts design, and making drawings in chalk of difficult engravings from pictures of the most celebrated masters. I have lying on the table admirable specimens of chalk-drawfrom Raphael, Domenichino, and M. Angelot.

of

in

gs

A similar process was pursued in the elementary schools Paris, and successfully (considering the tender age of the upils), as far as respects the copying of designs and the altivation of taste.

[blocks in formation]

Inquire respecting the articles of taste, such as the clocks you see at the west end, whence they have come, you will find, that notwithstanding our commercial code they have generally been made in Paris. I have already spoken of the patterns for silks and calicoes; and of the best designs for upholstery, for the hangings of rooms, for ornaments of grates, &c., you will find they all come from Paris, in consequence of the great extent to which they have carried the cultivation of taste among the artisans of that capital. But having stated that in point of taste a great advantage has been obtained, I have something to observe on the other side of the question. A very ingenious man, M. Dupuis, inspector of the elementary drawing schools of Paris, having observed the beautiful drawings that lay upon every table in those schools, thought it important to test whether the artists who produced such beautiful designs were capable of drawing from nature. He therefore requested some of the greatest proficients in the room to draw the chair or the desk of the master, or to sit in a corner and draw the room itself in perspective, and the consequence was almost universal failure. The cultivation of taste and mere copying of form from designs is to be distinguished from the drawing of form from objects in nature, unless those objects in nature are of a kind presenting a plain surface to be copied. It therefore became a question of great importance, in relation to the very objects served by the cultivation of taste, to devise a means of surmounting this difficulty. The drawing of form is a much more elementary matter than the cultivation of taste for the beautiful, and skill in drawing form ought to precede the cultivation of taste. Form ought to be drawn first, not altogether independently perhaps, but as a means of attaining skill in drawing for the beautiful. The drawing of form is connected with certain general laws of perspective; and the pupil must be practised in these laws by the constructive method, ascending here also from the simple to the complex.

M. Dupuis devised a series of models, the intention of which was to practice the pupils of the drawing schools of Paris in drawing form, from the models so placed as to enable the master, not by reference to geometry, but simply by reference to certain general laws of light, some obvious common-sense views of the subject to teach the general laws of perspective in combination with the means afforded the pupil to acquire skill in drawing form. I have before me a variety of these models. The simplest of course is the right line. The right line is placed opposite to the class intended to be taught, then linear figures in various degrees of perspective. I will take an object, in order to illustrate what I mean. This circle, you might easily convert in perspective into an oval or ellipse. Other models could thus be drawn in various degrees of perspective, the law, in relation to all these varieties, being announced not geometrically, but by some plain common-sense principle, and thus rendered obvious.

Having gone through some of these outline combinations, objects would be taken not presenting mere outlines, but presenting likewise the means of delineating solid forms, and which might also be placed in various degrees of perspective, varied infinitely so as to present problems to be solved by reference to certain simple laws, ascending through a series of increasing complexity, until the pupil drew hollow skeleton forms of this description, in perspective.

[Several demonstrations were here given with the models rapidly, which it was difficult to report.]

Thus a very simple demonstration might be given of some of the most difficult laws on which perspective depends. Those drawings you see attached to the canvas are brought from a school in the neighbourhood of London-the system having only been in operation for about twelve months. They might be drawn by the pupils of the humblest elementary school in London, in a very limited period indeed.

Having already exhausted much more time than I intended to do, I can only briefly say, that it was my intention to speak of the application of the Constructive method to a process devised by Pestalozzi, and which he called the intuitive method of teaching arithmetic; but I feel that I must now retire with a sense of the inadequacy of the time allotted to this Lecture, and the incompleteness of the exposition I have attempted to offer you.

« PreviousContinue »