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and does learn, a great deal more before that age than all he ever learns or can learn in all his after life. His attention is more easily roused in a new world: it is more vivid in a fresh existence; it is excited with less effort, and it engraves ideas deeper in the mind. His memory is more retentive in the same proportion in which his attention is more vigorous; bad habits are not formed, nor is his judgment warped by unfair bias; good habits may easily be acquired, and the pain of learning be almost destroyed; a state of listless indifference has not began to poison all joy, nor has indolence paralysed his powers, or bad passions quenched or perverted useful desires. He is all activity, inquiry, exertion, motion-he is eminently a curious and learning animal; and this is the common nature of all children; not merely of clever, and lively ones, but of all who are endowed with ordinary intelligence, and who in a few years become, through neglect, the stupid boys and dull men we see.”
[Yet, during this age, which is all activity, inquiry, exercise and motion,” the nurse that can keep the child from breaking its neck is deemed an all-sufficient teacher. We think the eulogium pronounced here, on infant schools, far too high and unqualified. They are not, at present, as frequent or popular as they were a few years since. An infant school is a benefit, and should be established in such communities only where the mothers, from the nature of the employment, must leave their children the larger part of the day. It is better to have children in an infant school than to let them run in the streets, or to remain alone, and tied to a piece of furniture in the house. But children whose parents have leisure and education should never be sent to one of these schools, as they are now conducted. The mother is the best companion and the best teacher. And the answer to the often-repeated question, “ Are infant schools a benefit or not ?" depends entirely upon the character of the neighborhood where they may be established. They were all the rage, and great
places of resort, a few years since, but seldom is it now that we meet with one. This forced, hot-house growth was not found healthy or lasting. And often have we been obliged to exclaim with another:
"Oh! that so rich a harvest should be marred
DETRIMENT TO THE
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT
“It appears that, since the peace of Amiens, and in consequence of what has taken place at the French revolution, the education of the poor classes is objected to by some persons in this country, on the ground that it would make a 'nan a worse subject. This is, however, a modern idea. I can show, from historical documents and authorities, that the education of the poor is by no means a novel object, but has been held in early ages, and by the wisest governments, the best security for the morals, the subordination, and the peace of countries.
In France, in the year 1582, under the reign of Henry III., the States general met, and the noblesse of the day presented a petition to the sovereign, praying that pains and penalties might be imposed upon those who would not send their children to school; and nearly at the same time the Scotch Parliament (perhaps the
most aristocratical body in existence) passed a law that every gentleman should send, at least, his eldest son to school, in order to learn gram
In the sixteenth century an order was made that all children should attend school, and that alms and charities should be refused to those persons whose children did not so attend. I have also seen a charter of King David I., dated 1241, in which mention was made of various public schools in Roxburgh, now a small village.
Another charter, dated 1163, spoke of the school of Stirling. Another in 1244, noticed the number of schools in Ayr; and a fourth, dated in 1256, made honorable mention of the praiseworthy manner in which the schools of other districts were conducted. Shortly before the revocation of the edict of Nantes, in 1680, the most intolerant period of French history, was founded the first society in the world, and, for a long time, the only one, for the advancement of education. Its founder was the celebrated Pere de la Salle, and the order was