網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

never approve it; for having lived long, I have expe. rienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or further consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is, therefore, that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men, indeed, as well as most sects of religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that whenever others differ from, them it is so far error. Steel, a protestant, in a dedication, tells the pope, that “ the only difference between our two churches, in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines, is, the Romish church is infallible, and the church of England never in the wrong." But, though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their seci, few express it so naturally as a certain French lady, who, in a little dispute with her sister, said, I don't know how it happens, sister, but I meet with nobody but myself that is always in the right. Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours raison. In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this constitution, with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no form of government, but what may be a blessing, if well administered ; and I believe farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other form's have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too, whether any other convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better constitution. For when you assemble a number of men, to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected ? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does ; and I think it will astonish our cnemies, who are waiting with confidence, to hear that our councils are confounded, like those of the builders of Babylon, and that our states are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting each other's throats.

Thus I consent, Sir, to this constitution, because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that this is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born; and here they shall die. If every one of us, in returning to our constituents, were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavour to gain partisans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects and great advantages resulting naturally in our favour among foreign nations, as well as among ourselves, from our real and apparent unanimity. Much of the strength or efficiency of any govenment, in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depend on opinion; on the general opinion of the goodness of that government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its governors.

I hope, therefore, that for our own sakes as a part of the people, and for the sake of our posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this constitution, wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts and endeavours to the means of having it well administered.

On the whole, Sir, I cannot help expressing a wish, that every member of the convention, who may still have objections, would with me on this occasion, doubt a little of his own infallibility, and, to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.

[The motion was then made for adding the last formula, viz.

Done in Convention, by the unanimous consent, &c. which was agreed to, and added accordingly.]

SKETCH OF AN ENGLISH SCHOOL

For the Consideration of the Trustees of the Philadelphia

Academy. * IT is expected that every scholar to be admitted into this school, be at least able to pronounce and divide the syllables in reading, and to write a legible hand. None to be received that are under

years

of age.

FIRST, OR LOWER CLASS. Let the first class learn the English Grammar rules, and at the same time let particular care be taken to improve them in orthography. Perhaps the latter is best done by pairing the scholars; two of those nearest, equal in their spelling to be put together. Let these strive for victory; each propounding ten words every day to the other to be spelled. He that spells truly most of the other's words, is victor for that day ; he that is victor most days in a month, to obtain a prize, a pretty neat book of some kind, useful in their future studies. This method fixes the attention of children extremely to the orthography of words, and makes them good spellers very early. It is a shame for a man to be so ignorant of this little art, in his own language, as to be perpetually confounding words of like sound and different significations; the consciousness of which defect makes some men, otherwise of good learning and understanding, averse to writing even a common letter.

Let the pieces read by the scholars in this class be short; such as Croxal's fables, and little stories. In giving the lesson, let it be read to them ; let the mean.

* This piece did not come to hand till the volume had been some time at the press. This was the case also with several other papers ; and must be our apology for any defect that may appear in the arrangement.

ing of the most difficult words in it be explained to them; and let them con over by themselves before they are called to read to the master or usher; who is to take particular care that they do not read too fast, and that they duly observe the stops and pauses. A vocabu. lary of the most usual difficult words might be formed for their use, with explanations; and they might daily get a few of those words and explanations by heart, which would a little exercise their memories ; or at least they might write a number of them in a small book for the purpose, which would help to fix the meaning of those words in their minds, and at the same time furnish every one with a little dictionary for his future use.

THE SECOND CLASS.

To be taught reading with attention, and with pro. per modulations of the voice; according to the senti.. ment and subject.

Some short pieces, not exceeding the length of a Spectator, to be given this class for lessons (and some of the easier Spectators would be very suitable for the purpose. These lessons might be given every night as tasks; the scholars to study them against the morning. Let it then be required of them to give an account, first of the parts of speech, and construction of one or two sentences, This will oblige them frequently to recur to their grammar, and fix its principal rules in their memory. Next, of the intention of the writer, or the scope of the piece, the meaning of each sentence, and of every uncommon word. This would early acquaini them with the meaning and force of words, and give them that most necessary habit of reading with attention.

The master then to read the piece with the proper modulations of voice, due emphasis, and suitable action, where action is required, and put the youth on imitating his manner.

Where the author has used an expression not the best, let it be pointed out; and let his beauties be particularly remarked to the youth.

Let the lessons for reading be varied, that the youth may be made acquainted with good styles of all kinds

in prose and verse, and the proper manner of reading each kind sometimes a well-told story, a piece of a sermon, a general's speech to his soldiers, a speech in a tragedy, some part of a comedy, an ode, a satire, a letter, blank verse, Hudibrastic, heroic, &c. But let such lessons be chosen for reading, as contain some useful instruction, whereby the understanding or morals of the youth may at the same time be improved.

It is required that they should first study and understand the lessons, before they are put upon reading them properly; to which end each boy should have an English dictionary, to help him over difficulties. When our boys read English to us, we are apt to imagine they understand what they read, because we do, and because it is their mother tongue. But they often read, as parrots speak, knowing little or nothing of the meaning. And it is impossible a reader should give the due modulation to his voice, and pronounce properly, unless his understanding goes before his tongue, and makes him master of the sentiment. Ac. customing boys to read aloud what they do not first understand, is the cause of those even set tones so common among readers, which when they have once got a habit of using, they find so difficult to correct; by which means, among fifty readers we scarcely find a good one, For want of good readers, pieces published with a view to influence the minds of men, for their own or the public benefit, lose half their force. Were there but one good reader in a neighbourhood, a public orator might be heard throughout a nation with the same advantages, and have the same effect upon his audience, as if they stood within the reach of his voice.

THE THIRD CLASS.

To be taught speaking properly and gracefullyou which is near a-kin to good reading, and naturally, ul. lows it in the studies of youth. Let the sch: sof this class begin with learning the elements of thetorio from some short system, so as to be able to give an account of the most useful tropes and figures. Let all their bad habits of speaking, all offences against good grammar, all corrupt or foreign accents, and all improper phrases, be pointed out to them. Short speech

Y

« 上一頁繼續 »