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means knowledge reduced to a system ; that is, arranged in a regular order, so as to be conveniently taught, easily remembered, and readily applied.
The practical uses of any science or branch of knowledge are undoubtedly of the highest importance; and there is hardly any man who may not gain some positive advantage in his worldly wealth and comforts, by increasing his stock of information. But there is also a pleasure in seeing the uses to which knowledge may be applied, wholly independent of the share we ourselves may have in those practical benefits. It is pleasing to examine the nature of a new instrument, or the habits of an unknown animal, without considering whether or not they may ever be of use to ourselves or to any body. It is another gratification to extend our inquiries, and find that the instrument or animal is useful to man, even although we have no chance ourselves of ever benefitting by the information: as, to find that the natives of some distant country employ the animal in travelling :
-nay, though he have no desire of
benefiting by the knowledge; as, for example, to find that the instrument is useful in performing some dangerous surgical operation. The mere gratification of curiosity ; the knowing more to-day than we knew yesterday; the understanding clearly what before seemed obscure ar:d puzzling ; the contemplation of general truths, and the comparing together of different things,-is an agreeable occupation of the mind; and, beside the present enjoyment, elevates the faculties above low pursuits, purifies and refines the passions, and helps our reason to assuage their violence,"
OPINION OF MR. OWEN'S PLAN.—HIS SYSTEM
“ I am desirous not to be misunderstood as agreeing wholly to Mr. Owen's plan. I conceive the theory on which it is founded to be wholly erroneous. It is founded upon a principle which I deny,—that of the increase of population being a benefit to the country. But, although I differ from the theory upon which that plan is founded, especially upon the subject of population, and think it would increase the evil of which it is the ostensible remedy, I still think that there are certain parts of the plan peculiarly entitled to the consideration of the House. I mean especially that part of it which relates to education. The system proposed and acted upon by Mr. Owen, in training infant children, before they are susceptible of what is generally called education, is deserving of the utmost attention. This, indeed, is the sound part of Mr. Owen's plan, and agreeable to the wisest principles.
By all means, then, I would say, let the House appoint a Committee, to inquire into the means by which those parts of Mr. Owen's plan, against which no objections can be made, may best be put in general practice. That which is wild or visionary may be slighted ; but the useful or the practicable ought not to be discarded. At the same time, I must say, with respect to education, that the assistance of Government or Parliament is not so necessary to its advancement, as the interests of that subject may be very safely trusted to the public spirit and private benevolence of the country.”
[We see here the liberality of a great mind. It selects, from much that is impracticable and pernicious, such parts as are important. It is ever ready to learn from sources, however despised or mingled with error. It is the remark of another living philosopher and legislator, “that the glory of a nation does not consist in never borrowing anything, but in perfecting every thing it borrows.” And the Legislature
of every State, should at once appoint a committee to investigate and secure the merits of every School System, and thus be able to embody in a school law, all the excellencies obtained from the experience and experiments of every civilized nation. By such action the improvements of every observing, investigating Teacher and School Association, would become common stock to all.-Ed.]