Page:Experimental researches in chemistry and.djvu/506

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1855,]
491
On Mental Education.

It is an extraordinary thing, that man, with a mind so wonderful that there is nothing to compare with it elsewhere in the known creation, should leave it to run wild in respect of its highest elements and qualities. He has powers of comparison and judgment, by which his final resolves, and all those acts of his material system which distinguish him from the brutes, are guided:—shall he omit to educate and improve them when education can do much? Is it towards the very principles and privileges that distinguish him above other creatures, he should feel indifference? Because the education is internal, it is not the less needful; nor is it more the duty of a man that he should cause his child to be taught than that he should teach himself Indolence may tempt him to neglect the self-examination and experience which form his school, and weariness may induce the evasion of the necessary practices; but surely a thought of the prize should suffice to stimulate him to the requisite exertion: and to those who reflect upon the many hours and days, devoted by a lover of sweet sounds, to gain a moderate facility upon a mere mechanical instrument, it ought to bring a correcting blush of shame, if they feel convicted of neglecting the beautiful living instrument, wherein play all the powers of the mind.

I will conclude this subject:—believe me when I say I have been speaking from self-conviction. I did not think this an occasion on which I ought to seek for flattering words regarding our common nature; if so, I should have felt unfaithful to the trust I had taken up; so I have spoken from experience. In thought I hear the voice, which judges me by the precepts I have uttered. I know that I fail frequently in that very exercise of judgment to which I call others; and have»abundant reason to believe that much more frequently I stand manifest to those around me, as one who errs, without being corrected by knowing it. I would willingly have evaded appearing before you on this subject, for I shall probably do but little good, and may well think it was an error of judgment to consent: having consented, my thoughts would How back amongst the events and reflections of my past life, until I found nothing present itself but an open declaration, almost a confession, as the means of performing the duty due to the subject and to you.