« AnteriorContinuar »
It is not intended to compare different systems, if the ability to do this could be assumed, nor to pronounce which of them should be received, nor which of them should be rejected. All of them are far too learned, and refined for elementary instruction. It is proposed, as sufficient for the present object, to invite those who are of competent years to do it, to examine their own intellectual acts as the simplest and easiest, and perhaps, the most satisfactory mode of instruction.
82. No one knows how his earliest steps in the acquirement of knowledge were taken; but he knows what the fact is with his juniors, and he infers truly that his own course must have been similar. It is thus known to every one, that in earliest infancy the human being is of all animals the most helpless: that months elapse before there is any apparent sensation, but that which arises from the want of food, or a sense of suffering. The eye and the ear are for a long time insensible, and when age enough is obtained to put these organs to use, they have every thing apparently to learn. The discrimination between different sounds, and the knowledge of figure, magnitude, color and distance of external objects, are very slowly obtained, and only by experiments often repeated. Less is known of the acquirements of the other senses, excepting that the sense of feeling appears to be always on the alert, and its disagreeable effect is frequently manifested.
83. After some few years, all the senses appear to have undergone the discipline of experience to the effect of answering the common purposes of life. What the senses have attained to by experience, must depend on the sort of experience, or on the employment in which they have been engaged. The senses of a number of young persons who are equally gifted by nature in this respect, will acquire different habits, according to the accidental circumstances, in which they are placed. Children brought up in a city, those who have been only in a small village, those who have been at school, and those who have been employed in manual labor, will have their senses very differently disciplin
ed. If each of these were brought together, and acted upon at the same time, by the same causes, each class would be differently affected, and the individuals of the same class would be affected in different degrees. The senses therefore may be said to be subjects of instruction from experience, from early infancy.
84. The only proposition which it is necessary to establish is, that the senses are subjects of discipline and of habit in every person, whatever his vocations in life may be. Another proposition which is self-evident is that all knowledge of external objects and substances must be obtained through the senses. Those who are blind from birth, cannot have any knowledge of forms, of comparative distances, except the imperfect knowledge which the other senses give; and they must be entirely ignorant of color, and of all other acquirements to which the use of the eye is indispensable. The deaf, from birth, must be entirely ignorant of all knowledge of sounds. The senses are therefore necessary avenues of knowledge to the mind.
85. It must be admitted, therefore, that the action of the senses is indispensable to the development of the mind. It does not follow from this well known fact, that the mind is not independent in itself, of material organization. We are apt to suppose that the mind is a perfect independent being, and is so from the commencement of life. It is quite as reasonable to suppose that the mind expands, and is progressive in conformity to the action made on it first through the senses, and then by its own operation.
86. It is not improbable that the soul, or mind, or spirit (meaning by these terms the same thing, that is, the immortal part of our being) is generally taken to be something perfect in its own nature, which takes up its residence in the human frame when life begins, and continues that residence while life remains.
It is not inconsistent with some analogies in nature, that the principle of the soul is originally given to every human being, and that the action of life developes and makes it whatsoever it becomes. It is not more dif
And each, as she received the flame,
From Albion first, whose ancient shrine
The splendid gift then Gallia took,
And, when she fired her altar, high
It flashed into the reddening air
Next, Spain, so new was light to her,
'T was quenched—and all again was dark.
Yet, no-not quenched-a treasure, worth
Who next received the flame? alas!
Scarce had her fingers touched the torch,
And fallen it might have long remained;
And Fancy bade me mark where, o'er
Who thus in song their voices blended:
Shine, shine forever, glorious flame,
From Greece thy earliest splendour came,
'Take, Freedom, take thy radiant round;
Extracted from the Rev. SYDNEY SMITH'S Speech before an Assembly of
[It was spoken at a meeting of the clergy of the Archdeaconry of the East Riding of Yorkshire, (England) held at the Tiger Inn, at Beverly, for the purpose of adopting a petition against the Catholic claims. The meeting was numerously attended by clergymen hostile to the bill. The Rev. S. Smith stood alone in his opposition.]
WE preach to our congregations, Sir, that a tree is known by its fruits. By the fruits it produces I will judge your system. What has it done for Ireland? New Zealand is emerging-Otaheite is emerging-Ireland is not emerging-she is still veiled in darkness-her children, safe under no law, live in the very shadow of death.
Has your system of exclusion made Ireland rich? Has it made Ireland loyal? Has it made Ireland free? Has it made Ireland happy? How is the wealth of Ireland proved? Is it by the naked, idle, suffering savages, who are slumbering on the mud floors of their cabins? In what does the loyalty of Ireland consist? Is it in the eagerness with which they would range themselves under the hostile banner of any invader, for your destruction and for your distress? it liberty, when men breathe and move among the bayonets of English soldiers? Is their happiness and their history anything but such a tissue of murders, burnings, hanging,
famine and disease, as never existed before in the annals of the world?
This is the system which, I am sure, with very different intentions and very different views of its effects, you are met this day to uphold. These are the dreadful consequences which those laws, your petition prays may be continued, have produced upon Ireland. From the principles of that system, from the cruelty of those laws, I turn, and turn with the homage of my whole heart, to that memorable proclamation, which the Head of our Church, the present monarch of these realms, has lately made to his hereditary dominions of Hanover-That no man should be subjected to civil incapacities, on account of his religious opinions. Sir, there have been many memorable things done in this reign. -Hostile armies have been destroyed; fleets have been captured; formidable combinations have been broken to pieces -but this sentiment in the mouth of a king deserves, more than all glories and victories, the notice of that historian, who is destined to tell to future ages the deeds of the English people. I hope he will lavish upon it every gem which glitters in the diadem of genius, and so uphold it to the world, that it will be remembered when Waterloo is forgotten, and when the fall of Paris is blotted out from the memory of man.
Great as it is, Sir, this is not the only pleasure I have received in these latter days. I have seen, within these few weeks, a degree of wisdom in our mercantile law, such superiority to vulgar prejudice, views so just and so profound, that it seemed to me as if I were reading the works of a speculative economist, rather than the improvements of a practical politician, agreed to by a legislative assembly, and upon the eve of being carried into execution, for the benefit of a great people. Let who will be their master, I honour and praise the ministers who have learned such a lesson. I rejoice that I have lived to see such an improvement in English affairs-that the stubborn resistance to all improvement -the contempt of all scientific reasoning, and the rigid adhesion to every stupid error, which so long characterised the proceedings of this country, is fast giving way to better things, under better men, placed in better circumstances.
I confess it is not without severe pain, that in the midst of all this expansion and improvement, I perceive that in our profession we are still calling for the same exclusion— still asking, that the same fetters may be rivetted on our fellow creatures-still mistaking what constitutes the weakness