There will always be on one side timid and mediocre minds, satisfied to shut themselves up and safeguard what they already have; and on the other more daring and able spirits who are tempted beyond the line of safety in a thirst for discovery and adventure, and are thus swept out beyond their own immature control. Books that foster the spirit of rebellion, of doubt and discontent concerning the essentials and inevitable elements of human life, that tend to sap the sense of personal responsibility, and to disparage the cardinal virtues and the duty of self-restraint as against impulse, are emphatically bad. They are particularly bad for girls with their impressionable minds and tendency to imitation, and inclination to be led on by the glamour of the old temptation; “Your eyes shall be opened; you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
To follow a doubt or a lie or a by-way of conduct with the curiosity to see what comes of it in the end, is to prepare their own minds for similar lines of thought and action, and in the crises of life, when they have to choose for themselves, often unadvised and without time to deliberate, they are more likely to fall by the doubt or the lie or the spirit of revolt which has become familiar to them in thought and sympathy.
“All nations have their message from on high,
Each the messiah of some central thought,
For the fulfilment and delight of Man:
One has to teach that Labour is divine;
Another Freedom and another Mind;
And all, that God is open-eyed and just,
The happy centre and calm heart of all.”
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
We cannot have a perfect knowledge even of our own language without some acquaintance with more than one other, either classical or modern. This is especially true of English because it has drawn its strength and wealth from so many sources, and absorbed them into itself. But this value is usually taken indirectly, by the way, and the understanding of it only comes to us after years as an appreciable good. It is, however, recognized that no education corresponding to the needs of our own time can be perfected or even adequately completed in one language alone. Not only do the actual conditions of life make it imperative to have more than one tongue at our command from the rapid extension of facilities for travelling, and increased intercourse with other nations; but in proportion to the cooling down of our extreme ardour for experimental science in the school-room we are returning to recognize in language a means of education more adapted to prepare children for life, by fitting them for intercourse with their fellow-creatures and giving them some appreciative understanding of the works of man’s mind. Thus languages, and especially modern languages, are assuming more and more importance in the education of children, not only with us, but in most other countries of Europe. In some of them the methods are distinctly in advance of ours.