Page images

bleness grew the expression, “He does not know his horn-book," which we have since changed to ". He doesn't know lis letters.” Another important book was The English Schoole Master, the fifteenth edition of which was printed in London in 1624. “Its main object, as stated in the preface, “was to teach correct reading." The New England Psalter' was used in a similar way.

Among the earliest arithmetics was that of James Hodder, which in 1719 reached its twenty-eighth London edition. The most popular of the early geographies appear to have been Meriton's, which was printed in London in 1679, and Laurence Eachard's, of nearly the same date. Of the dictionaries used in New England, Coles's, published in London in 1692, and Bollocker's, the ninth edition of which was printed in 1695, were, at the close of the seventeenth century, the standards. In Latin, before the publication of Cheever's Accidence, Brinsley's, first issued in 1611-12, was in use; also another printed in London in 1639, called Directions for Young Latinists. A still later one was Hoole's Accidence, published in 1681. In Greek there was the Westminster Grammar of 1671, and in Hebrew the grammar of Schickard, issued in 1623, and Buxtorf's, which was printed before 1629.9

The books we have named give some idea of the studies pursued in the common, grammar, and private schools of New England during the seventeenth and early part of the eighteenth century, or during the first century of colonial life. The choice of books appears to have been made as "convenience and preference dictated.” With the exception of those for reading, spelling, and ciphering, none of the earlier ones was retained as late as 1813.

During the eighteenth century schoolbooks of all kinds multiplied rapidly. These included works upon arithmetic, bookkeeping, navigation, geography, English and Latin grammars and dictionaries, Greek grammars and lexicons, books upon belles-lettres, and many others which are named in Felt's Annals of Salem, and in Barnard's Catalogue of American Text-books.

In reviewing the history of this early period one becomes more and more impressed with a sense of the obligation we are under to the Puritans and Pilgrim Fathers for the interest they took in education. Unfortunately their descendants of the third and fourth generations did not follow their example. So greatly did the interest in education decline that during a large part of the eighteenth century prior to the Revolutionary war it is said to have been true of men and women of respectability and influence that they could not so much as write their names, and that this state of things applied not only to New England, but to the whole country.

Previous to 1769 girls were taught only by schoolmistresses; and to learn to read and sew “was for the most part the height of their ambition.” But near the close of the century public and private schools accumulated rapidly, and much attention was given to female instruction. Still it was some time after the beginaing of the nineteenth century before arithmetic was studied to any extent by girls, though as early as 1789 it was ordered that both sexes should be taught writing and arithmetic, so as to include vulgar and decimal fractions. Not until 1784 were they permitted to attend a grammar school, and not before 1828, when they were placed on an equal footing with the boys, could they be admitted to any public schools for more than half the year, namely, from April to October. In short, as Mír. Waterston' says, a hundred and fifty years elapsed from the opening of the first public school before any girls were admitted; a hundred and ninety-three years before they enjoyed equal privileges with the boys.

[ocr errors]

1 This, in the edition of 1784, "has the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, the Sermon
of Christ on the Mount, and the Nicene Creed."
2 See Felt's Annals of Salem, pp. 437, 438.

3 Of the spelling books, Dilworth's, which was in use in 1750, continued to be a favorite until
after 1800. A rival in popular favor was Dyche's.
4 See Dr. Wm. Bentley, A Descriptive History of Salem, Mass. Hist. Coll., vol. vi., pp. 239-241.
Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings, February, 1873, p. 387.

It may then be said that “with various modifications as to details, but with the same objects steadily in view, viz, the exclusion of barbarism from every family," the Puritans were able to carry to a successful issue their nobly-conceived idea of “maintaining an elementary school in every neighborhood where there were children enough to constitute a school, and of a Latin school in every large town, and a college for higher culture for the whole colony;” and, moreover, that this system which they established has continued to expand with the growth and development of the country until it has become the basis for school systems in nearly all the States of the Union, besides having had great influence upon education in other countries.


By President S. C. BARTLETT, D. D., LL. D., of Dartmouth College. The grammar school, somewhat modified, was brought by our fathers from England, established by law in Massachusetts in 1617, and maintained by taxation. It spread thence through the other New England States, and did good service for the cause of general education. But after a century or more there arose a desire for institutions of a higher and more specialized character, pointing more directly in the line of a liberal education. It gradually enlisted the most intelligent and enterprising men of the various communities and ein bodied aims and aspirations which were indicated by the name they chose for the institution. The name "academy" was an ambitious name. Not to speak of its early classic application, after the revival of learning it designated an association of learned men, authors, or artists for the promotion of science, literature, or art. Hundreds of these organizations, greater or smaller, were formed in Europe, each with its own specific field of study or culture. It showed the high ideal of our forefathers and the spirit that prompted them when they chose this name to designate their institution for the instruction of youth.

The New England academy was an incorporated institution, founded and maintained by private beneficence, and managed by a selected board of trustees. It was, with few exceptions, open to both sexes. The oldest of these institutions was the Dummer Academy, at Byfield, Mass. In 1761 Lieutenant-Governor Dummer bequeathed his mansion and his farnı of 330 acres for this purpose; and in two years it was opened under the famous Master Moody, though not incorporated till 1782. The character and working of the system disclosed itself in this its earliest specimen. The roll of trustees of Dummer Academy has included four or five presidents of Harvard College, Judges Parsons and Wilde, Edward Everett, Jared Sparks, Professor Felton, Timothy Pickering, Elijah Parish, Leonard Withington, numerous Members of Congress, and a long list of other men of mark. Its privileges attracted and before the end of the century sent forth such men as Rufus King, Chief Justices Parsons and Samuel Sewall, Professors Webber and Tappan, of Harvard; Smith, of Dartmouth; Cleveland, of Bowdoin, a dozen Members of Congress, and more than 200 candidates for college. This institution was the germ of the whole movement.

Samuel Phillips had fitted for college at this academy, and apparently had boarded in the family of Master Moody. In 1780 he founded Phillips Andover Academy, endowing it at first with $20,000, although at his death his property was inventoried at but $15,000. In so doing he recorded the hope “ that its usefulness might be made so manifest as to lead other establishments on the same principles.” The hope began to be realized the next year, when his uncle, John Phillips, founded the Exeter Acadeiny, first endowing it with $50,000, and at his death with two-thirds of his estate. The impulse was soon communicated to nearly all

[ocr errors]

New England. It is not to be overlooked, however, that the unaided enterprise of individual teachers was already pushing in the same direction. Twelve years before the foundation of the Andover Academy one Simon Williams opened, and for twenty years maintained, a noted school in Windham, N. H., drawing pupils from Boston, Salem, and other large towns, and numbering among his pupils not a few who afterwards became distinguished.

The establishment of the two Phillips academies was soon followed by the incorporation of numerous others. Thus, in the year 1791, the Berwick Academy in Maine and five in New Hampshire were incorporated; and in the latter State alone during the earlier part of the present century some 50 academies are said to have been established before the system of high schools maintained by taxation created a competition and a check upon the movement. There were at least 10 in the single county of Merrimack. Most of these, being provided only with a building, and little, if any, productive funds, and sustained by very moderate tuition fees, at length yielded to the unequal competition with institutions supported by taxation, and faded away many years ago, but not until they had done an admirable work for the towns of their location, leaving a void which has never been filled. Places could be mentioned which, during the existence of the academy, furnished an unbroken succession of students for college, but which now scarcely send one in a decade, if at all.

But not a few of these institutions, better endowed, and receiving additional endowments in later years, still continue their noble and indispensable work. They are the recognized feeders of our colleges and the most powerful allies of the cause of higher education. Without attempting an enumeration, I may mention as specimens, in Massachusetts, the famous Phillips Academy at Andover, Williston at Easthampton, Monson Academy, Worcester Academy, Cushing Academy at Ashburnham, Lawrence at Groton; in Vermont, Barre, Peacham, and Saxtons River academies, and the well-known one at St. Johnsbury; in Maine, Berwick, Limington, and Fryeburg academies; in New Hampshire, the renowned Phillips at Exeter, Pinkerton at Derry, Appleton at New Ipswich, Kimball Union at Meriden, Pembroke, and others; all of which have made a splendid record. Many others, now extinct or decayed, have done equally faithful work toward the same end. It is the want of such institutions as these fitting schools which has been found, outside of New England and especially at the West, a great obstacle in the way of the best liberal education, and a chief reason why colleges in those regions can not easily compete in quality with the New England colleges.

They have not the proper feeders, and attention is beginning to be wisely directed to the establishment of academies on the New England model, for the New England academy has shown itself in several respects not unworthy its somewhat ambitious name. In each community it organized and concentrated the best minds in promoting the best culture. The founders and guardians of these widely scattered and once numerous institutions have invariably included the best element, lay and clerical, in the surrounding region-intelligent, sagacious, forceful. The splendid roll of trustees of Dummer Academy has been already mentioned. A similar showing, in kind, if not in extent, could be made of the trustees of the Phillips academies-Pinkerton, Kimball Union, Monson--and doubtless of many others. They have enlisted the men wakeful and watchful for the highest culture of the young. They have also selected and attracted the best teaching talent of the times. Commonly, if practicable, there has been a permanent principal, a man strong, well-balanced, and devoted to his work; such men as Moody, of Dummer; Adams and Taylor, of Andover; Abbott, of Exeter; Richards, of Kimball Union; Hammond, of Monson, and others of like quality, who made both their reputation and that of the school. Around these central figures have been gathered successively as assistants a great company of the ablest young graduates of our colleges, pausing on their way to their several professions, to throw for a


time their early force, enthusiasm, and culture into the minds of other young men. No one who has not pondered the subject can understand the magnificent ability that in its young strength has been educating the New England of the past as well as of the present. It would show a noble list of names afterwards prominent in professional and public life. You strike their track as well in the smaller as in the larger schools. Thus in the little town of Peacham, Vt., we find among the former teachers in the academy one of the ablest of the secretaries of the American Board, one of the ablest lawyers of New Hampshire, the president of a distinguished college, two college tutors, a brilliant medical professor, and other men of power and note.

Among the assistants at Pinkerton Academy are the names of Chief Justice Bell, Prof. E. D. Sanborn, the brilliant Leonard Swain, cut down in his earliest prime, and the equally brilliant Jarvis Gregg, still earlier called away. Thaddeus Stevens and Daniel Webster were academy teachers. So was the late Roswell D. Hitchcock, in a little town of 1,200 inhabitants. So, it may be added, was Dr. R. S. Storrs, at Monson. Many a witness yet living can testify what stirring influences were these models and vitalizing spirits. They were a revelation and an inspiration. Seeds of learning and of thought have thus been scattered over the hills and valleys, in the towns and villages of New England by its future jurists, statesmen, divines, and educators, destined in due time to bring forth a harvest after their kind and to fill the country with their fruitage.

For these institutions have not only organized, but they have diffused the best culture. They first concentrated and then radiated. Widely diffused as they once were, they brought home the thought and often the purpose of the higher education to every fireside. In this respect they have fulfilled a function not accomplished by the later high school. For, though open to all, they were designed rather for special privilege than for universal range, and classical training was more a primary aim than an incidental and subordinate and scarcely tolerated use. They first suggested to a multitude of young men the purpose of a liberal education, and enabled them to accomplish it. They drew, as a magnet, the true steel. In many towns where the once flourishing academy has gone down for want of funds the contrast between the former constant supply and the later dearth of college candidates is a sad one. The registers of the two Phillips academies are dazzlingly bright with names of men foremost in all the walks of life, many of whom would doubtless have found their way elsewhere and many of whom would not.

But it is not alone, nor perhaps chiefly, the public and professional men to whom these influences have been most valuable, but the far larger body of clear-headed business men and active workers, sound thinkers and pillars of society in every station of life. Here they pursued the studies they elected, often inclusive of the classics. Here they perceived the impetus of the same earnest teachers and imbibed the whole tone, spirit, and power of the institution. They came in vigorated by the morning walk, often of the longest, and perhaps by their home “chores” before and after school. They came, young men and maidens, with their tidy apparel, their morning greetings, their sympathetic glances and recognitions, sometimes, it may be, a stolen word or note, and joining in the homeward walk, all and always under the guidance of native chivalry on the one side and native modesty on the other, and the benign influence of home life and surroundings. And when they went thence on their several ways of life, many and bright were the memories that clustered round that luminous spot. At South Berwick on the 1st of July it was a pleasant and impressive thing to see the thousand men and women of standing and character, most of them former pupils, who came to celebrate the centennial of Berwick Academy. One other function of the academy is not to be forgotten, and that by no means

ED 97—75


the least important. It gave a thoroughly Christian education. These institutions were quite as often the offspring of religious zeal as of literary enthusiasm. For the most part they were founded and conducted in the interest of pure religion and high morality. It was part of the system and often of the written code to require the reading of the Scriptures and the morning or evening prayer, as well as attendance at church, and to prohibit Sabbath breaking and irreverence and every form of vice and immorality. Not seldom have these institutions been the scenes of deep religious interest and revival. The infidel, the demagogue, and the sectarian banish these influences from the high school, the grammar school, and the primary school; but from the academy they can not dislodge them. That institution remains and may remain the stronghold of a Christian education. For this function, as well as the others, we may thank God and warmly cherish the New England academy.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »