Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

byterian connection, and from others—but enough. It is a plain case. New academies established over our States would lift colleges and universities alike from the quasi degradation into which these honored names have fallen at the West. In the ambitious race for pre-eminence in smartness, almost erery new settlement boasts its “college” or “university,” and to meet a quick demand, a building is run up like a cotton mill, and a “professor” is duly inaugurated. Thus our youth grow up with absurd notions of a college, which, in a multitude of cases, continue to be associated with tumble-down shanties and pretentious “professors.” A young student, a member of one of these mongrel institutions in Illinois, recently wrote us: “Our university is prospering finely, and is making rapid progress towards a first-class college.” Now this muddle of ideas, into which the public have so generally faflen, is simply shameful. The blame rests somewhat upon the ambitious settlers before us that we inherit such a state of affairs, but the remedy rests with this generation. The same ignorance prevails as to the sphere and work of the academy. Says a leading educator of Iowa, “My opinion is that the most pressing demand upon us, as a denomination, is to establish acadeinies. We can not hold the place we desire or deserve without them, as educational centers and feeders for our colleges.”

Before leaving this point—the necessity of the academy to the college---there is another aspect of it we feel constrained to present. As matters now stand, colleges with preparatory departments discourage other good preparatory schools, are their rivals, and can not expect their good will. They are in the field for the same class of students, and by various means secure pupils who might have fitted at home institutions, with better influence upon themselves and upon the communities amid which they dwell, and for the permanent interests of the college.

Again, by the use, for the benefit of students in the preparatory department, of funds which were given for college education, colleges with preparatory departments are enabled to underbid other preparatory schools, and to put tuition below the market price.

Further, such institutions are a constant example and encouragement for the preparatory schools to become “colleges” also, since they do similar work and might as well enjoy whatever advantage is in the name, and this goes a great way

with the people. The argument is, “ become a college in name and you will secure college endowments like the others," as benevolent people, in their honest simplicity, are not always careful to go behind a name. Besides, pious students of the academy in our denomination lose, while in the preparatory course, the pecuniary aid they might receive were only the name changed, or were they at a college favored with a preparatory department, or even were they to turn Presbyterians, for Presbyterians take better care of the lambs, and by this means have drawn from us many a promising youth.

The force of these points, the late honored secretary of “The College Society,” Rev. Theron Baldwin, admitted in the expression of his regrets that aid could not be extended by him to such worthy students, unless the institution should become college in name.

But it admits of grave question whether funds given for colleges, as that term is understood in New England, may be appropriated for preparatory departments in which the large majority of students never enter upon a real college course. A trustee of a favorite Western college makes this historical record: “The names of two hundred and ninety are found enrolled as members of the institution during the past year, more than half of whom are in the collegiate and preparatory departments.” It is a natural query, who are the nearly half left? Is there any ground for the suspicion that they belong where a leading journal, with more regard to truth than dignity, classed a similar number in our State University-in “the trundle-bed department.”

Whoever now attempts to obtain funds at the East for edu. cational purposes, finds, as never before, a disposition to discriminate and scrutinize; and where, in addition to this, the applicant is treated to reminiscences of early “investments in Western colleges,” he experiences the meaning of Nasby's word, onpleasantness.

Fifthly. Again, as those who would make sure the religious as well as the classical training of our youth, we should establish academies. The church is the conservator of both these essential branches of culture.

With Pres. IIitchcock, of precious memory, we believe that “it is impossible to establish a literary institution in this country without religion,” as witness Girard College and the University of Virginia ; and with Daniel Webster that “the Christian religion is of the essence, the vitality, of useful instruction.” The religious spirit of the Puritans gave birth to their political and educational institutions. The historians Bancroft and Palfrey confirm this statement in explicit terms. To carry out and perpetuate their views, they established the academy along with the college. Most of them had this distinct purpose in the fore front—“ Christo et Ecclesiæ," that the learning they bestowed should be baptized into the spirit of a true Christian faith, and, independent of the state, secure an irrevocable alliance between religion and learning.

Whatever considerations of a religious nature demand the college and the theological seminary necessitate the academy also. The lofty purpose of the Puritans to make their religions principles triumphant, has blessed the land with a succession of Christian scholars in every age--has conserved to the state her common schools, and reared a safe bulwark around all our most precious interests.

The vital relation of such institutions to the government, was abundantly illustrated in the late war. The conclusion to which every-day events inevitably conduct us is, that the Roman Catholic has entered upon the work of controlling the educational interests of this country, with the avowed purpose of subjecting the state to the dominion of that church. To this end she is employing her agents in legislatures and in newspapers, and at the polls, obtaining possession of the public money and undermining the whole school system, in the interests of popery. But let Rome build costly cathedrals for a sensuous worship, if we may but have the acadamy and the college, side by side, as types of the two systems. Let her in

[ocr errors]

alliance with infidels of every name, take advantage of our civil and religious liberty to oust the Bible and religious instruction from common schools, if true to our history we have around us the academy and the college, the gates of hell shall not prevail against us.

Whether the Bible and the classics-the convenient footballs of politicians—be voted up or voted down at every political change, we are safe. This controversy respecting the Bible and the classics in schools, and also that respecting State and private institutions, has to many minds a deeper significancy than appears on the surface. There are many who, after they have banished all religion from the public schools, would be glad also to underinine our whole collegiate system, because it is for the most part under Christian auspices.

There are many earnest men, of potential influence, who under various plausible pretexts would give our whole educational system over to those whose view of human destiny is limited by man's temporal welfare; many who would like to supplant the Greek language by conchology, the Latin by instruction in farming, mental philosophy by physiology, and Butler's analogy by Fowler and Wells' phrenology, or Combe's “Constitution of Man." The real question before us to-day is, shall the Christian faith be handed down as an essential element and necessity of our future civilization ? M. Guizot eloquently remarks upon the miserable failure of the French to secure their social well-being by mere scientific culture. “ It is because man was made for eternity, and we have sought nothing more than to fit him for the brief space he occupies in time. Let us then by the Bible from the first, begin to train man for eternity and that of itself will adapt a man to the duties of this earthly state.” Under God it depends largely upon our churches and ministers to say whether our sons and daughters shall be educated on the side of materialism or a spiritual philosophy, of mere human culture or of divine wisdom; and our full conviction is that we can not fairly meet and decide these questions on the arena of the public schools. The cry of bigotry and sectarianism or some other “ism” will

be raised against any thing but the boldest indifferentism. We need now, under our own auspices, and within convenient reach of all our youth, academical schools. These, the offspring of benevolence and self denial, and reared for a noble purpose, will inspire the youth within their daily influence with new thoughts and purposes, will serve to arrest the powerful currents down which so many are borne to the maelstroms of pleasure and business speculations. Offerings and prayers of the good will consecrate them, and as years roll on, hallowed associations and blessed memories will be a lifelong treasure to increasing thousands, like those scenes which are a joy forever to the graduate of Ilolyoke, or Bradford or Phillips' Academy. To such a school, would the pastor, ever thoughtful of the perpetuation of the church and the ministry, send the lambs of his flock, as one and another aspires for something higher than the common walk. Like Paul, he will find here a Timothy and there a Titus, who, but for his offices and that institution, would never bless the world with their ininistry. As to the fling often made against “private” and “aristocratic” schools—as academies are called-educational authorities are abundant and decisive, that such institutions always have been, and always will be, a necessity in our system of education, the elementary work being done by the state, and the higher by the academy and college. “It is absurd,” says Supt. Bateman, “to attempt more, and must be for a long time to come.” Pres. Hopkins replies to our inquiries on this point: “I do not suppose the conditions of thorough instruction in a course of liberal study can be created without academies.” Says Pres. Gulliver: “The common schools are the life of the nation and should be supported by taxation, and managed by the state. But from the nature of things, they must be confined to the instruction needed for all citizens of all avocations in life. The state can not successfully enter upon the business of liberal culture.” As to being

aristocratic,” they are open to all, and the truth is, they have generally been endowed by the rich, and gladly attended by poor men's sons.

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »