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Education, And Case Of Appeal
by [?]

EDUCATION.
PLANS FOR THE INSTRUCTION OF BOYS IN LARGE NUMBERS.[1]

(April and May, 1824.)

This is the work of a very ingenious man, and records the most original experiment in Education which in this country at least has been attempted since the date of those communicated by the Edgeworths. We say designedly ‘in this country;’ because to compare it with some continental schemes which have been only recently made known to the English public (and not fully made known even yet) would impose upon us a minute review of those schemes, which would be, first, disproportionate to our limits–secondly, out of its best situation, because it would be desirable to examine those schemes separately for the direct purpose of determining their own absolute value, and not indirectly and incidentally for the purpose of a comparison. The Madras system, again, is excluded from the comparison–not so much for the reason alleged (pp. 123-5), by the author before us–as though that system were essentially different from his own in its purpose and application: the purpose of the Madras system is not exclusively economy of expense, but in combination with that purpose a far greater accuracy (and therefore reality) in the knowledge communicated than could be obtained on the old systems; on this account therefore the possible application of the Madras system is not simply to the education of the poor, though as yet the actual application of it may have been chiefly to them, but also to the education of the rich; and in fact it is well known that the Madras system (so far from being essentially a system for the poor) has been adopted in some of the great classical schools of the kingdom.[2] The difference is more logically stated thus–that the Madras system regards singly the quality of the knowledge given, and (with a view to that) the mode of giving it: whereas the system, which we are going to review, does not confine its view to man as a being capable of knowledge, but extends it to man as a being capable of action, moral or prudential: it is therefore a much more comprehensive system. The system before us does not exclude the final purpose of the Madras system: on the contrary, it is laudably solicitous for the fullest and most accurate communication of knowledge, and suggests many hints for the attainment of that end as just and as useful as they are enlightened. But it does not stop here: it goes further, and contemplates the whole man with a reference to his total means of usefulness and happiness in life. And hence, by the way, it seems to us essential–that the whole child should on this system be surrendered to the school; i. e. that there should be no day-scholars; and this principle we shall further on endeavour to establish on the evidence of a case related by the author himself.[3] On the whole therefore we have designedly stated our general estimate of the author’s system with a reference to that of the Edgeworths; not only because it has the same comprehensiveness of object, and is in some degree a further expansion of their method and their principles; but also because the author himself strikingly resembles the Edgeworths in style and composition of mind; with this single difference perhaps, that the good sense and perception of propriety (of what in French would be called les convenances), which in both is the characteristic merit (and, when it comes into conflict with any higher quality, the characteristic defect),–in him is less coloured by sarcastic and contemptuous feelings; which in all cases are unamiable feelings, and argue some defect of wisdom and magnanimity; but, when directed (as in the Edgeworths they sometimes are) against principles in human nature which lie far beyond the field of their limited philosophy, recoil with their whole strength upon those who utter them. It is upon this consideration of his intellectual affinity with the Edgeworths that we are the less disposed to marvel at his estimate of their labours: that, for instance, at p. 192 he styles their work on education ‘inestimable,’ and that at p. 122, though he stops short of proposing ‘divine honours’ to Miss Edgeworth, the course of his logic nevertheless binds him to mean that on Grecian principles such honours are ‘due to her.’ So much for the general classification and merits of the author, of whom we know nothing more than–that, from his use of the Scotticisms–‘succumb,’–‘compete,’–and ‘in place of’ for ‘instead of’ he ought to be a Scotchman: now then for his system.