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silently, permeating the great mass of mind, and giving direction to the broad current of popular sentiment.
GAS IN THE SCHOOLROOM.
BY MRS. F. B. MCINTYRE, GENEVA.
Here, as in other places, the proper use of this gift of nature will do much towards turning the darkness of the night into glorious day.
At the commencement of a new year or term, most schools are furnished with a generous supply of the article, but we notice a sort of prodigality in its use against which we hereby protest. On these occasions the enthusiastic teacher comes before his pupils with soul thrilled with noble aspirations, full of plans, systems and projects concerning the work before them. Opening remarks diffuse these sentiments through the school, both en masse and in detail. If they fall upon a school where this sort of introduction is something new, they fall on believing hearts—they cast an eye of faith into the future and see the definite fulfillment of all these fine plans.
But when similar remarks are a common luxury-having been listened to repeatedly, they are quite slow to believe fully—and slyly exhange glances, which being interpreted, read-gas. They pass to their several homes repeating—“Teacher says thus and so; and so and thus," and the parents echo-gas.
They are right. It is gas. But of a nature that has power to elevate and expand; provided, that the teacher retains these better thoughts and aims in the secret chambers of the soul, until they work a leaven through the whole.
Then the uttered words fall on the impressive minds of youth, notin vain. They are gas, really, in the sense of being light-givers—but he must needs be careful to use light only where real darkness exists. No gain results from pouring forth explanation and illustration, continued and repeated, where there is no real need or desire, or in the place of the pupil's own labor; for this is only a wasteful burning of gas in the daytime. Hence, we urge that among many subjects for consideration this should find place; viz., “ How to utilize gas?”
Good RULES NOT SUFFICIENT.-One may study all the best author. ities--even to the regulations of the “ Boston schools,”-may cull from all the State Superintendents' Reports, and really secure the cxcellencies of all the excellent, yet, even then, good teacher, your good
Rules will not execute themselves. Not a bit of it. Your own personal energy must act through them in never ceasing, but ever loving watchfulness, in order to gain the desired result.-16.
EDUCATION IN SWITZERLAND.
BY REV. B. G. NORTHROP.
A visit to over a hundred schools in the different Cantons has greatly enhanced my appreciation of the Swiss system of public instruction. The Swiss are a progressive people, and their excellent educational system is both the evidence and cause of general advancement. It contains some features worthy of imitation in America. The schools are supported by the State, free to all, well attended and highly prized by the people. In the studies of Geography and Arithmetic, their methods are inferior to ours. But in Language-exercises, History and Drawing, they greatly excel. The mastery of the mother tongue is the first aim. The culture of the expressive faculties is made very prominent. They justly regard language as not only the medium of thought, but the chief agent in cultivating the memory and taste. The disciplinary influense of language study is kept in view. To talk well is held to be a noble art. The daily school duties aim at this grand attainment. Choice collections of poetry and prose are committed and related almost daily. Starting early, the memory is trained to commit with surprising facility. I have been greatly pleased with the recitations of poetry by young pupils,-long passages being given without hesitation or mistake.
The fact that there are three races in Switzerland-German, French and Italian, and that these three languages are spoken in the Federal Assembly as well as in commercial intercourse, gives a practical interest to the study of the modern languages. Besides one's vernacular, the study of French or German is required in the schools, and is begun at a tender age. The faculty of language is early developed. Under ten cr twelve years, is the memorial age for words and their forms. Beginning at the right age, the Swiss youth make most rapid and thorough progress in modern languages. The Classics are also commenced early, and great proficiency is the result. In the study of any new language,
the pen is ever in hand, and there is constant practice in expressing thought in that language. One's proficiency is measured by his ability to convey his ideas in a new tongue. I commend this practice to our teachers.
History, too much neglected in America, is here made a most attractive and prominent study. This land is classic. Vestiges of Roman rule and works abound, and memorials of battles and sieges in later times, stimulate inquiry. The school building itself is often historic. I have inspected the College and Academy founded by Calvin more than three hundred years ago, sat in the pulpit chair occupied by him,
heard recitations and lectures in the very rooms where he taught, and with which are associated the names of John Knox, Necker, Sismondi, Albert Gallatin and a host of eminent men of Europe, for Geneva was the educational center where Protestant young men from England, France and Germany were educated for nearly two centuries after the Reformation. Though with one exception, the smallest Canton in Switzerland, no place of its size in modern times has exerted so wide spread and happy an influence both intellectual and religious. Among the ruling minds of the present day, Count Bismark is named as one who was educated in part here. Such memories awaken an historic spirit in the schools. Still more their monuments, walls, towers, ruins and relics, their fountains adorned with historic emblems, their heroes and benefactors enshrined in storied marble, their hard won victories recorded in bronze, their archæological museum and library, with the manuscripts of Luther, Calvin, Beza, Melancthon and others, foster an interest in the past.
The Swiss schools also excel in drawing. They understand both its practical bearing and relation to general culture. Their skilled mechanics apply the art in drafting plans, forming decorative designs, and executing all nice work. They say that not the architect, builder, machinist and inventor only must "draw," but that any craftsman, skilled in design, makes a better workman whatever may be his trade. The world now pays substantial tribute to Switzerland for the exquisite taste displayed in the decorative arts, in their unequaled wood carvings, their beautiful designs and chasings in gold and silver, their watches and music boxes, their silks and ribbons and their patterns for embroidery, and for their extensive printing and dyeing manufactories. In the industrial schools, special instruction is given in ornamental drawing, molding and designing. In the girls' schools, needle work is taught to all.
The Swiss believe in the dignity of labor, in the system of apprenticeship, and the thorough mastery of some trade. The theory that labor is menial, and that the tools of a trade are badges of servility is foreign to them. They are ingenious and industrious. They have learned that ignorance means waste and weakness, that education is economy, that brains help the hands in all work, multiplying both the value and productive power of mere muscle. In this direction the Polytechnic Institute at Zurich is doing a noble work. It is already deserredly the pride of the nation, is liberally supported by the Government, and has a very large and able corps of Professors and 600 students. Its celebrity has attracted many students from other lands. England has nothing equal to it. Indignant that his own country should so neglect both popular and technical education, J. Scott Russel
2-[VOL. II.-.No. 1.]
“The contrast between England and Switzerland is this: England spends more than five times as much on pauperism and crime as she does on education, and Switzerland spends seven times as much on education as she does on paupers and crime.”
THE ROT IN LITERATURE.
Good, honest old Anglo-Saxon literature has never been so seriously threatened with a decay as at the present moment. The heart of a literature is its moral purity. The present disease attacks the core.
In the rude days of Chaucer there was sensuality in literature; but it was rough and repulsive. Licentiousness was depicted by Chaucer, as was everything else that came in his way; but the picture was faithful to life, and if the poet did not moralize a great deal directly, he was on the whole a most healthy poet, greatly in advance of his times—a fresh breeze blowing away cobwebs and letting in truths. He portrayed the "Wif of Bath'—and others like her—but he drew them without the softening of a line, and he put Constance and Grisilde, women of ideal purity, alongside them.
Whatever of impurity we have had heretofore, has been foreign. After the restoration, literature shared in the general debauchery imported from France, and poets wrote moral essays in the morning and lewd songs at night. But their wickedness had the elements of its own cure within it, for it was open and undisguised. Pope and his fellows were vicious, but they did not affect to gild their vice with the pure gold of true feeling. The Gentleman's Magazine published things that would now be consigned to papers which give themselves over wholly to obscenity. But this impurity in the literature of a hundred and fifty years ago, was the rude, undisguised, unembellished impurity of the time, an impurity which went out of literature when it went out of conversation. Byron's wickedness was his own, and perhaps the very monstrousness of his own character and the forlorn miserableness of his life were the best possible antidotes to his sensuality.
It taxes the strength of the English tongue to fitly characterize the present disease of our English literature. It is a foul rot carefully hidden. It is a fatal decay flushing the cheek as in health. It does not express itself in those honest old Saxon words which gave bad things ugly names. It is a sensuality so refined that one can not just mark its limitations; coarseness buried in refinement, decked with the images of poetry, and walking most delicately. It is the lowest animality counterfeiting the highest and purest feelings of humanity. It is Lucifer coming up out of the perdition of sensualism, and claiming
to be the Gabriel of love that stands evermore before the face of God n heaven.
In England the unregulated muse of Swinburne, scattering epithets that hide beneath their graceful exterior the seeds of infection, is per. haps the head and front of this offending. But Dante Rossetti, with his real strength of intellect and his rich, oriental picturesqueness of description, his clear poetic vision, is far more dangerous. In him, what should be the warm flush and ruddy glow of health is the hot fever of passion. And these two poets are so gifted, and so bolstered by their association with “ the Browning school,” that their influence is likely to be most pernicious. They captivate every reader who has imagination—it is only the cool after-thought of a person of discrimination that is able to detect the hot unhealthfulness of them. God has set a great gulf between a high and pure love and a low and sensual lust; but with the new school of poets this is airily bridged or wholly abolished, and heaven and hell live in friendly contiguity.
On our own side of the water we have not wanted for offenders. The most innocuous of these, doubtless, is Walt Whitman; for the hideousness of the external form of his poetic joltings would be an effectual antidote to their popularity, even if they had unquestioned merit. We are sorry that we can not wholly exempt so great a favorite and so real a genius as Mr. Bret Harte from this condemnation. That women of shameful life are not without good traits is a fact shown in the gospels themselves: but is it the work of literature to idealize their lives? We have a genuine admiration for much that John Hay has written. But can he not write a letter from a burnt city without hiding the incendiary fire of Swinburne-ism in his rhetoric, and thus using the columns of a great paper to sow the seeds of obscene imaginings? There are metaphors in his glowing and eloquent letters from the ruins of Chicago which could never have gained entrance to the pages of the Tribune it they were written in plain English or by a less adroit hand.
We are not prudish. Prudery and pruriency are near of kin. If speech were plainer, it would be purer. But literary criticism should make moral purity the very first cánon. He that poisons literature poisons the fountain of life. Let not that man be praised who defiles the thoughts and soils the hearts of his readers. A wonderful display of pyrotechnics would not receive much commendation if it threaténed the whole city with destruction. It is idle to talk about the genius of Swinburne or Rossetti or Charles Reade. So much the worse.
If they threaten the purity and healthfulness of Anglo-Saxon thought or feeling, away with them. We had better live an age without a single great writer, than to have a race of authors who will make English and American life what the life of Paris is to-day.--Hearth and Home.