Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/414

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doubt was the necessary path to a broader and freer education if worked out in the democratic way. This explains largely the dearth of educational literature during this period, or its limitation to casual interpolations, private letters, legislative matter, or advertisement. One such advertisement contains in itself a further explanation of the indifferent status of education:

Wanted—a person qualified to teach school, and as an amanuensis to write grammatically for the press the composition of an old invalid. He must be a proper judge of securities for cash; draw leases; make wills; and undertake the clerkship of a large Benefit Society, with whom he must, by their articles, pray extempore and give them lectures. He ought to be able to sing and play different instruments of music, to teach his pupils to dance, and to shave and dress a few gentlemen in the neighborhood. Bleeding, drawing of teeth, and curing fire-legs, agues, and chilblains in children, will be considered as extra qualifications.

During this period communication was slow, travel most difficult, publication costly. As bespeaks an age of relative leisure, much of the literature was epistolary in character. The subject of education often entered into the correspondence of our forefathers, and sometimes found its way into the public press of the day. But on the whole the amount of such writing is surprisingly small; the interest in education of the generation that founded our government and put it into operation was slight and lacking in penetration.

Washington believed in a national university and wrote frequently on that subject. His outlook here, as on other aspects of education, was that of a Virginian or an English country gentleman—that educators were necessary but that the means to this end were a matter chiefly of individual concern. John Adams wrote his views into the first state constitution of Massachusetts, but they were the traditional views of colonial Massachusetts. He also left a diary or fragmentary autobiography which covers his experience as a district school teacher, without revealing more than a passing interest in education. James Madison held a broad conception of education, expressed frequently in his correspondence, but not at length. "A popular government, without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps