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it. If it be worth anything it ought to be taught on Monday morning. This is the practice in some places. Whether it does any good even then I cannot determine, but I am morally certain that the cause of virtue and religion never was and never will be forwarded by teaching catechisms on Saturday, at the close of the weekly exercises in the schools.

ART. II.-Reports of the Board of Visitors on the Examination of the United States Military Academy at West Point. 1827-8-9.


THE subject of education seems at this time, as it always ought, to be occupying a great share of public attention. And if to do were as easy as to tell what were good to be done,' the science would be rapidly advancing to perfection. But it is far easier to instruct than to persuade, and the great difficulty seems to lie much more in the want of resolution and perseverance than in the want of judgment and knowledge; and the weakest half of mankind give their children much more good advice than the wisest half ever enforce, even where they are perfectly able to enforce it. Perhaps the doctrines of civil liberty and equal rights so happily prevalent in this country, may be practically extended to many of the rising generation before nature has prepared them for their rational application. It is, to be sure, highly desirable that in all governments, whether domestic, municipal, or national, the subjects should be fully convinced of the reasonableness and expediency of the injunctions which it is their duty to obey. But in the earlier period of domestic government this is obviously impossible, and in no government can it be made the sine qua non of obedience. As the intellectual faculties are gradually developed this point ought to be more and more insisted on, but if ever compliance is required only so far as conviction is produced, they may both be given up together. However reasonable any regulations may be, an indispensable requisite for a cheerful compliance with them is the impossibility of evasion. Such considerations may reconcile

us to military discipline in a literary institution, provided that its reputed maxims of vigor and punctuality can be carried into complete execution.

The United States Military Academy, being the only literary institution under the management of the general government, necessarily arrests the particular attention of every person who feels a suitable concern for the character and-interest of the country. And the official reports of its progress and situation, which are annually presented to the public, are calculated to fix this attention, though they may now and then excite suspicions of some kind suppressions, or some good-natured exaggerations. The acquirements here are intended to be much more extensive than were formerly expected. They are far from being exclusively military, but besides that, comprise a profound course of mathematics, mechanics, physics, chemistry, and the application of these sciences to the useful arts of life, under the title of engineering, together with French and drawing. Thus the military officer will become as useful in peace as in war, and will find other objects to excite and gratify his zeal for the publie service when the barbarous employments of the field are suspended. The instruction, as indicated by the performances of the young gentlemen, is represented, and no doubt justly, as most able and faithful.

This course must be little satisfactory to the fond patrons of what is called elegant literature. It would be hardly worth while, in order to justify it, to engage in the much mooted question on the relative importance of the sciences and the languages. We are far from wishing to depreciate either of these highly important and honorable objects of human pursuit, but necessity sometimes determines questions which no human ingenuity can decide. The classic writers of the English Augustan age, whose example perhaps has contributed most to raise the credit and importance of ancient literature, employed in their academic course twice the time that can be afforded for the same purpose in this needy, bustling, impatient country, while during the century and a half which has elapsed since they were exploring what was then the whole field of literature, the domains of the human intellect have been more than doubled by the addition of the physical sciences, the powers of the mind probably remaining unaltered. And it is hardly possible that even Sir William Temple, or the dean of St Patricks himself, could they revisit the earth, would soberly depreciate the labors of modern genius

from Sir Isaac Newton to Sir Humphrey Davy, or even consent to rejecting the immense results from the system of clementary instruction.

In view of these considerations we must elect the alternative either to compel our youth to scatter their steps with equal frequency over the whole field, enlarged as it is, in which they will gather a little of every thing and but little of any thing, or allow them to select their favorite soil, dig deep and cultivate thoroughly and enjoy the rich crop which their diligence and industry must produce. It is only by the latter method that those great men are formed in foreign countries from whom we receive most of our instruction. We would by no means urge an entirely exclusive attention to any one branch of literary acquirements -the mere mathematician, the mere grammarian, or the mere poet, if such a thing can exist, is a very imperfect character. Л cursory notion of the principal points in all the sciences is perfectly compatible with a profound knowledge in some one or two, but the task of a universal scholar is growing harder and harder every day, and he who insists upon keeping his acquirements in all the sciences at the same level will probably acquire only a universal smattering.

There is one feature in the management of the Military Academy on which we wish to speak somewhat at large, for with regard to it there exists a great evil, and it is very common in this country. We mean that injunction on the academic staff from the head of the department, by which any cadet, who shall fail to make suitable progress either from negligence or incapacity shall be dismissed from the corps. how utterly hopeless is the attempt to urge the adoption of this We are perfectly aware invaluable practice in the other literary institutions of our country. Most of them indeed can show a statute to that effect, but if they exhibit any instance of its application, it will probably be some helpless being without connexions to resent the affront or money to pay his bills. But that reformation is hopeless is no reason why reprobation should be withheld. The preacher very properly perseveres in denouncing vice and impiety without expecting to produce or even accelerate the millennium.

In stating the evils of the common practice we cannot expect to advance any thing new; its consequences must have forced themselves upon every person who considers the nature of literary pursuits, and literary honors. grades the character of our literary institutions, and destroys the In the first place it de

value of their testimonials. To secure the credit of our merchandise every barrel of beef and every keg of butter must be thoroughly inspected and receive a certain brand, which must truly declare its nature and quality before it can be offered in the market. But that brand, called a diploma, only requires that the article that carries it shall have lain a certain length of time in store, and paid certain stated fees, and its credit with the intelligent part of the community is exactly proportioned to its requirements. As to the students, the diligent and ambitious lose all stimulus arising from the apprehension of being surpassed, and finding themselves so far in advance of their companions, and too often drawn into ruinous habits by those who are unworthy of the opportunities offered them, allow themselves to imagine that they have done enough for improvement, enough for fame, and indulging the indolence natural to humanity rest, on their arms and lose more than half the fruits of victory. This practice displays all the barbarity of Mezontius; the living cannot revive the dead, while the dead cannot fail to infect the living. The public are teazed with a swarm of literary men, degrading their rank by begging business, and many learn for the first time what study is, when they are compelled to determine where they shall seek a subsistence. In this scramble for employment, the mass of the community are little qualified to discern the difference, and here again the idle and profligate, after having prevented their companions from making the acquirements which they would otherwise have done, deprive them of the reward due to those which they have actually made.

Simple as the correction of this unfortunate abuse may seem, it requires more conscientious firmness and self-denial than we expect to see exercised. For there are people, and they are too frequently met with, whom it might be very inconvenient to offend, but whose pride can never brook that their descendants, however stupid and wicked, should ever submit to what has been unjustly called the primeval curse denounced on the progenitors of mankind, although it is well known that ancient families, like the fabled individuals endowed with immortality, must often crawl along the paths of gentility in all the decrepitude of Struldbrugs. There are also dunces absolutely unimproveable, who set their hearts so fondly on some of the literary professions that it seems cruel to undeceive them. 'Optat ephippiæ bos;' and few there are who have not been tortured with some vexatious aspirations

of this kind. But the sooner they are checked the better it is for those who entertain them, as well as for society at large.

It must be remembered that this rigorous exaction of suitable improvement should be confined to those institutions whose members are professedly prepared to serve the community by the exertion of their intellectual faculties. Those who expect to gain their subsistence by the labor of their hands, for which there is much the greatest demand in this country, ought by all means to be so far instructed as to become intelligent citizens, and it should be beaten into them if possible; but those who declare themselves candidates for the higher stations in society should possess dispositions too elevated and generous to require the lash or the spur. And those who, after the days of childhood need much of what is called discipline, are altogether unworthy to be presented to the public as its instructers and directors. We admit that these profligates may sometimes reform, but where one of them becomes a really useful member of society, ten worthy, promising young men are ruined by their seductions. Our colleges are not trammelled with private foundations, destined for characters of a peculiar and arbitrary description, no way connected with literary merit, but are erected and endowed, professedly at least, for the benefit of the community at large, and for that purpose should be reserved for the most worthy. And it is absolute fatuity thus 'to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs,'-to squander away means thus sacredly devoted, in a manner which so seriously impairs the tone of literary enthusiasm, reduces by one half the grade of intellectual acquirements, and ruins the moral habits of those inexperienced young men whose literary ambition it has previously prostrated. In the words of an ingenious writer,* It is a pity to see the soil wasting in the nurture of this unproductive pestilential underwood, juices which, under better direction, might give breadth to the oak, and elevation to the pine.'

Were every member of our higher literary institutions, who from whatever cause fell below mediocrity in his literary acquirements, or endangered the moral character of others by his disorderly habits, kindly and silently dismissed, and were the general motto to be''Occupet extremum scabies,' the students would be constantly exerting their highest intellectual vigour under the stimulus which Alexander required of having kings for compet

* Peter's Letters to His Kinsfolk.

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