« PreviousContinue »
The importance of this, the moral treatment, has led to inquire into its origin. Long before the physician had conceived the plan of correcting the false ideas and feelings of a lunatic by purgatives, or the cranial depressions of an idiot by bleeding, Spain had produced several generations of monks, who treated, with the greatest success, all kinds of mental diseases, without drugs, by moral training alone. Certain regular labors, the performance of simple and assiduous duties, an enlightened and sovereign volition, watching constantly over the patients such were the only remedies employed. "We cure almost all of our lunatics," said the good fathers, "except the nobles, who would think themselves dishonored by working with their hands." Last and fatal word of an expiring aristocracy,-"Idleness or death," cried she, even in her insanity, and soon the people answered, "Die, then, for those alone who labor have a right to Life and Liberty.”
Is it not a strange thing to contemplate !-These men, withdrawn from the world and from human science, without other knowledge than that of the Christian charity, but in the fullness of their only and holy duty, giving to the insane, calmness in the place of fury, attention in the place of dementia, useful labor in the place of impulse to destruction; thus, in fact, driving out the demons from these wandering souls. They knew nothing, these poor monks who said to their patients-"In the name of God the creator and orderer, control thy actions. In the name of God, the great thinker of the universe, control thy thoughts. In the name of God, the great lover, control thy passions." These poor monks knew only to act in virtue of their faith, and we-who have with the sublime but blind faith, the reason for its exercise, we do no better than they did, only we know why and how we do it, when we apply their treatment to the idiot.
Thus, thanks to the idiots, that which was, in the hands of the monks of Spain, a divine mystery, is become a fundamental principle of anthropological science. Such is the origin, partly divine and partly human, of the treatment and education of idiots, though we can clearly see that God is at the bottom of this and of all our great discoveries.
X. MORAL AND RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
REMARKS On the Address of the retiring President, being in order, PROF. CHARLES DAVIES, offered the following resolution:
Resolved, That the sentiments expressed by our late President, PROF. BACHE, in his recent address, that moral and religious instruction should form a prominent element in all our systems of public education, is in accordance with the firm belief and earnest convictions of this Association.
PROF. DAVIES, addressed the Convention at some length in support of this resolution. He spoke in terms of warm commendation of the stand taken by Prof. Bache, and Prof. Pierce, upon the subject of moral and religious instruction in the schools, and desired that the Association should be understood by the public to endorse the sentiment so ably expressed by them.
HON. S. S. RANDALL, seconded the resolution, and urged its adoption. He thought it to be necessary in order that the public should know that the Association were not, as it had been sometimes feared, in favor of excluding the religious element from our systems of education.
REV. GORHAM D. ABBOTT, was pleased to hear this resolution introduced. If passed unanimously, after a general expression of concuring sentiment, its influence could not fail to be of great importance.
Dr. Peters, wished to express his gratification at the introduction of the resolution, and on account of the language which had given occasion for it. It had been said 1800 years ago, that these things were hid from the wise and prudent, and were revealed unto babes.' In our day, the wise and prudent talked as little children, in heeding the teachings of our Lord and Master.
PROF. ALFRED GREENLEAF, of Brooklyn, said, that he could bear testimony to the consistency of Mr. Randall's remarks with the practice of the public schools of the city of New York; for on a visiting tour through the schools of this city, he had found religious instruction in all the schools, from the Free Academy, down to the very lowest form of the Infant School.
MR. AMOS PERRY, of New London, Conn., said, that in traveling through Europe, he had heard the American system of education stigmatized as an ungodly and Christless system. He should rejoice to have that misapprehension by the passage of the resolution corrected.
PROF. CALEB MILLS, of Indiana, desired simply to make known the fact that the State of Indiana, had placed the Bible at the head of their text-books.
MR. GIDEON F. THAYER, of Boston, favored the resolution. In
Massachusetts for some years it had been at the option of the teacher to open the school by the reading of the Bible, and by prayer, or not, and in almost all cases it had been attended to. But at the last session of the legislature a law had been passed requiring the Bible to be read every day in the schools.
REV. DR. TALMADGE, of Georgia, said:-that as he was the only delegate from several Southern Atlantic States, he felt called upon to say that in that section the great question of religious education was becoming an absorbing topic. They were beginning to feel that intellectual education is a curse, unless moral and religious education go with it, and he therefore desired an expression of opinion on the subject, by the Association.
PROF. E. A. ANDREWS, of Connecticut, rejoiced at the introduction of the resolution, and at the occasion which had called for it. He was gratified also, that there had been such a universal expression of sentiment in favor of the importance of religious training.
PRES. TAPPAN, of Michigan, said, that Professors Bache and Pierce, had done honor to themselves by making the statements referred to in the resolution. He did not wonder at it; he should have wondered if they had not; for an undevout astronomer or scientific man is the maddest of all men.
PROF. AGNEW, of Pittsfield, Mass., obtained the floor, but yielded to BISHOP POTTER, of Pennsylvania, who remarked, that the passage of the resolution might involve more serious consequences than would at first appear. He inquired whether the language ascribed to Prof. Bache was correct; whether it was certain the language used in his address, or adopted by him; that he had declared that religious instruction should be a prominent feature "in all our systems of public education."
PROF. DAVIES stated, that previous to offering the resolution, he had submitted it to Prof. Bache, and asked his permission to introduce it; and the sentiment had his sanction.
BISHOP POTTER. I am very sorry to be compelled to interpose a little doubt, not as to Prof. Bache's opinions, although stated more specifically in the resolution, than I understood him to express them in the address, or than as held by him a few years ago, but as to the portentous question, whether religious instruction shall take a leading place in our public schools. I say that is a portentous question; a question involving a problem that is not yet solved, a problem, the solution of which, has thus far been attempted in vain in our father-land, and the attempt to solve which has, I think, materially retarded the progress of public instruction in Great Britain.
Mr. President, if it is safe for anybody to say a word upon this subject in the direction in which I am speaking, it must be safe for a minister of Christ, safe for one who has proudly identified himself always with our public system of instruction, and has indignantly resented always the imputation that it is a godless system. As it is now, it does not attempt dogmatically to teach the religion of Christ; and yet it is not un-chris
tian; it is not anti-christian; it is not godless. It might be a great deal more religious; I trust in God that it will be so. But I really doubt whether the adoption of resolutions of this kind, by a body which has no authority, no influence except a persuasive moral power, is calculated to accelerate that consummation most devoutly to be wished. I have been delighted with the exhibition of the spirit manifested here this evening. It is a delightful exponent of what I believe to be a great movement in the American mind; a movement towards the clear profound conviction that moral and religious culture must have their appropriate place in the great business of education, or we do not achieve our whole work of education in our public schools. After all, there is a better school than the public school, and that is the family, and I may add, the parochial or Sunday-school, the catachetical class, the Bible class. And although in our public schools, I think a great deal more religion can be taught than has been taught, yet if we are to reach that most desirable end, I think we should not send abroad proclamations which promise more than we can perform.
I think I have indicated
I will go no further into the subject now. that there are difficulties about this question; and if you wish to penetrate and leave the system of public instruction by true religious spirit, you are not to do it by resolutions, not by talking, but by working. As is the teacher, so, we were told to-day, is the school; subject to no limitations. There is no educational proposition more sound or more important. Just in proportion as we succeed in raising the vocation and character of our teachers, just in that proportion we guaranty that they shall be godly and Christlike men and women. Good, conscientious devout men and women, are the only people who will ultimately come up to the standard of requirement which I believe is rapidly becoming universal throughout the United States. And if you place in every primary school a devout conscientious enlightened Christian heart, you have accomplished the great work. It is not the amount of dogmatic instruction they give upon religion, but the mighty argument in favor of religion which transpires every day and hour of their lives, which is to be desired. But you must recollect that they can only teach the ten commandments, the Lord's prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, and a few other similar passages, before they get over into the stonny region of polemics; God save the schools from that. (Applause.)
PROF. AGNEW, wished to be heard for a few minutes before the vote was taken. He deeply sympathized with the views expressed by Bishop Potter; and his vote might seem singular if given without explanation. Further debate was cut off, in order to listen to a lecture by PROF. HUNTINGTON, of Cambridge, appointed for this evening; but after the conclusion of the lecture.
PROF. DAVIES, asked permission to withdraw his resolution. He was confident that it could not be passed. He had never heard Bishop Potter discuss any point in which he did not fully convince his audience of the wisdom and propriety of his position. All would carry home in their
hearts the sentiment expressed by the resolution, and if its public expression could do harm, it might well be forborne.
PROF. AGNEW said, that this struck him as a very singular proceeding. Those in favor of the resolution had been heard at length, while those opposed to its present form, had had no opportunity to explain.
PROF. DAVIES demanded the previous question; but was not sustained. REV. MR. HAZELTINE, should regret the withdrawal of the resolution. He wished it to be passed as the sentiment of the Association to go out to the country. It was needed, if not in Massachusetts or New York, at least in the Western states, where infidelity is springing up, and the Bible is not used in the schools.
PROF. PROUDFIT, suggested, that as it was already late, it would be better to leave the subject for consideration to-morrow; and accordingly, on Thursday evening,
The Association resumed the consideration of the resolution offered last evening by Prof. DAVIES, who moved the following substitute therefor:
Resolved, That the recognition by our late President, Prof. BACHE, in his retiring address, of the preeminent importance of moral and religious culture in the training of youth, meets upon the part of this Association with the profoundest sympathy and approbation.
MR. RANDALL. I move that the original resolution be introduced as a substitute. I offer it because I think that resolution expresses, or was intended to express the sense and the religious conviction of this country. No one doubts the "importance of moral and religious culture in the training of youth." That is not the principle we are called upon here to express as a public body. We are the representatives of the educational public ;—collegiate university, and common school education, are represented here. I desire that the sentiment originally propounded by the son of the daughter of Benjamin Franklin, and adopted also by one of the most Scientific men in the Union, that sentiment which was received here with so much enthusiasm last evening, shall be directly voted upon. I desire to see what is the sense of this Association upon it. I believe that moral and religious culture should enter as an element into all our systems of public education, and by that sentiment as an educator, I am prepared to stand or fall. We have tried the experiment in this city. We know that it works well. We have here, upwards of a hundred public schools, and in them all, there are not more than half a dozen in which religious and moral culture do not prevail, in which the Bible is not read at the opening of the school, the Lord's prayer repeated, and some hymn sung. This constitutes a part, and a very important part of moral and religious culture. Gentlemen need entertain no apprehensions of sectarian danger. This resolution embraces nothing of the kind. It expresses nothing of peculiar specific dogmatical theology. It was not intended to include that. It was intended as a simple recognition of the fact that our institutions rest and ought to rest upon Christianity as the basis. Whether you call it the Christianity of