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Lincoln Phelps.

Lectures to young ladies, comprising outlines and applications of the different branches of female education, for the use of female schools, and private libraries online

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Online LibraryLincoln PhelpsLectures to young ladies, comprising outlines and applications of the different branches of female education, for the use of female schools, and private libraries → online text (page 24 of 27)
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aknowledge of language, he had only to examine the dif-
ferent created beings, in order to perceive at once cer-
tain distinctive characters between the different families,
and to give a general name to each family or genus.
Whether the names which he gave were entirely arbitra-
ty, or founded on some peculiarity of the animal, we do
not know, though the latter appears a probable supposi-
tion. For notwithstanding the many transformations
which language has undergone we still perceive in many
cases a resemblance in the sound of a word, and the an-
imal which it denotes ; thus snake, with the hissing
sound of its consonants, and its drawling termination
seems in some degree to suggest the being to which it is
applied ; the name bird seems indicative of a quick,



LOGIC. 267

rushing through the air ; tiger seems to speak of ferocity,
and lion of courage. How far our associated ideas may
influence us to imagine these resemblances, we cannot
well say ; though this circumstance should be taken into
consideration. You may be ready to ask, of what use can
it be to study logic, if it serves only to perplex and cloud
the mind 1 We have already informed you that the true
purpose of logic is to assist in the development of the
reasoning powers, by rules drawn from observation and
experience of the nature and operations of those powers.
Logic is not to teach you to reason, for nature does this ;
but it may assist you by pointing out those methods of
study and investigation which people of reflection and
observation have found to be most useful to themselves
and others. Those who have studied any of the branches
of natural science, particularly botany, have already been
initiated into the principles of logical division and meth-
od. Mathematical demonstration is but the constant
practice of true logic, and the latter science will be to
those of you who are familiar with such demonstrations,
but a review of familiar principles and facts.

Hedge's Logic has been selected as our text book in
this study ; it contains the most useful principles of the
science, and is little encumbered with the useless rubbish
with which antiquity had loaded it. In recitations in this
study, it is very difficult to change the language of your
author in any great degree ; the precise word used in defi-
nitions is here generally the very one which is needed,
and the idea might be changed or obscured by attempt-
ing to alter the mode of expression. While it shows a
dull and mechanical mind for a pupil to be always confin-
ed to the mere words of a text book, it is, on the other
hand, a foolish affectation and pedantry to avoid with
scrupulous care using any of an author's expressions,
however fine or forcible they may be. You never need
fear being suspected of learning by rote, when this is not
the case. There is as much difference in the manner of
recitation between one who understands what she says,
and one who repeats words from memory merely, as be-
tween the chattering of a parrot and the conversation of
an intelligent person. The kindling of mind, the beam-



268 LOGIC.

ing forth of intellect is never to be confounded with me-
chanical effort. Before closing my observations upon the
study of logic, I will read you a translation of some re-
marks from a French work, entitled, * Conseils D' un Pere
Sur Ij Education Des Filles. * * Teach your daughters
to search for principles founded in truth and wisdom ;
teach them to contract the habit of ascertaining as far as
possible, whether what, they wish to do is conformable to
both these ; teach them to doubt upon all subjects that
are not evident, but that when they have well examined
the foundation, and are certain of the correctness of the
reasoning founded upon a sure basis, they should then
know how to stop. Teach them not to wander from this
focus oflight, but, keeping their eye fixed upon this point,
render it a means of discovering any fluctuation in their
future opinions or conduct. Correct principles are a port
in the tempest ; they are an asylum against the attacks of
error ; an inexhaustible fountain from whence the streams
which flow are always pure ; an unerring compass to
whose guidance we can yield ourselves without fear. We
are strong when our conduct has been regulated by the
rules of truth and honesty. You are not called upon to
prepare yourselves for the pulpit or the bar, though it is
well for you to be capable of judging of the merits of
those who do appear there ; and although you may not be
called to proclaim your own opinions, you may have the
satisfaction of enjoying in secret the pleasure of being
able to judge and to appreciate the efforts of great rninds.
The logic which we wish you to possess, is not that which
leads to argument, but to the regulation of thought; that
which shall enable you to establish rules for your own
conduct. We would wish rather to perfect you in the art
of thinking and judging, than in that of speaking ; or, in
other words, we would have your knowledge made sub-
servient to useful purposes, not to vanity or pedantry/

The same writer, remarking on the necessity of order
in the train of thought, says, * I had scribbled long, before
I knew how to write : I had a tumultuous abundance of
ideas ; they flowed from my pen with great facility : let-

* Counsels of a Father upon the Education of Daughters.



MORAL PHILOSOPHY. 269

ters cost me no effort ; but when I came to treat upon se-
rious and complicated subjects, I was confused, I felt that
my reasoning had not that tout ensemble, that connexion
which characterizes energy and clearness. My discours-
es were but a collection of incoherent observations, of
isolated reflections, of which I could never endure the
second reading. Ah, how many manuscripts have I not
destroyed in impatience and discouragement ! At length
a ray of light dawned upon my mind before beginning
to develope a subject, I traced my plan ; t did as the arch-
itect who determines the proportions of a building before
laying a single stone, and from thence, all difficulties in
composition disappeared !

( From this sincere acknowledgement,' continues the
same author * you may form an idea of the importance
of method in the art of reasoning. Principles are the
base and the fulcrum of every work, method is the lever,
and analysis the proof. ,' Is not then a rational and just
logic a treasure? Is it not as valuable for woman as for
man, since the government of her thoughts, and the reg-
ulation of her conduct is of equal importance ?

Moral Philosophy .

Moral Philosophy is addressed both to the heart and un-
derstanding. It should commence in the earliest years
of childhood, as soon as the little being destined to immor-
tality begins to entertain ideas of right and wrong.
There is a period preceding this, when the child is to be
governed wholly by "a feeling of instinctive obedience. It
sees itself in the hands of its parents, knows that they
have power over it, and learns to submit its will to theirs.
But as soon as the child begins to exercise its reason, as
soon as the moral feeling begins to unfold, (we are here
assuming the existence of a principle which some moral-
ists or rather immoralists deny) then should its moral
education commence. It should be taught that the pa-
rent does not exact obedience because he has power to
do it, but because it is right, because the parent has ex-
perience and knows what is best. If one child take from

23*



270 MORAL PHILOSOPHY.

another its toys, because it has greater physical strength,
it should be taught that power does not make right, and
that it is wrong in any case to take what belongs to
another, without the owner's consent.

Thus should children, from the dawning of reason, be
accustomed to reflect upon the moral relations of actions.
The science of Moral Philosophy, as laid down in books
is but a collection of those rules and principles which are
considered as the proper guides of moral conduct, and
which in their simple forms should be thus taught to
children. The work of Dr. Paley, although liable to some
objections, yet retains its place in most public institu-
tions. It possesses merits of a kind very important in a
school book ; the style is clear and simple, the method
of arrangement calculated to aid the memory, and the
reasoning is generally precise and logical. The chap-
ter on the moral sense does not appear to me to state the
subject fairly, or to give to the argument that bearing
which religion,, morality and experience point out.

Consider man as destitute of an original moral feeling
(the term sense is perhaps an objectionable one) and how
can he be considered an accountable being ? Is it not
this very feeling, implanted by God in the human heart,
which renders man a moral agent? Is not this moral
feeling the foundation of all our ideas of right and
wrong? If right depend on custom, law, the will of a
sovereign, or of a majority, where is our standard ? Dr.
Paley would say, the revealed will of God. But if we have
no natural feeling of rectitude, why should we think it right
to render obedience to our Creator ? This question is thus
answered by Paley : ' We believe that God can reward or
punish us, that he will do this in proportion to our obe-
dience or disobedience, therefore we will comply with
his will for the sake of the reward.'

But how is it with the Creator himself? Are his
acts good, because he is powerful ; or rather, is there not
such a thing as a principle of goodness, of which God is
the fountain, and which, when he created man in his
own image, was imparted as the vital principle of the
human soul? This soul, although corrupted by the fall,
still retains a portion of its divine principle, which, even



INTELLECTUAL PHILOSOPHY. 271

in the most debased condition of mortals, discovers it-
self by the remorse and shame which follow vice. With
the exception of what I consider Dr. Paley's erroneous
ideas respecting the want of an original moral princi-
ple, and the necessary consequences from this which
appear in his definition of ' virtue, right and wrong/
&c., I regard his Moral Philosophy as a work of great
merit and utility. His views of the sabbath are how-
ever far from being admitted by all Christians ; most of
whom believe that the Christian sabbath is a continua-
tion of, and substitution for the Jewish sabbath, and that
we are under the same obligation to regard the fourth
commandment as the other nine. Dr. Paley considers
it expedient and proper to observe the sabbath by attend-
ing public worship on that day, and devoting as much time
as possible to spiritual exercises ; but he does not regard
the hallowing of the Lord's day as enforced by a com-
mand.

Parkhurst's Moral Philosophy is designed to correct
some of the supposed errors of Paley. This is a work of
much merit, and may be read with advantage by pupils
in this study. In our moral department we shall con-
sider the importance of developing and fortifying the
moral emotion, and also its connexion with our duties
towards our Maker.

Intellectual Philosophy.

With some remarks on the Philosophy of mind, I shall
close my lectures on Intellectual Improvement. This
science, although itself the main spring in education, is
very properly, as a department of study, the crowning of
the whole. It commences with some knowledge of the
operations of the mind, and is acquired in the first years of
life. The child learns to know the opinions and emotions
of those around him, by means of external signs; and
he must have reasoned upon associated feelings be-
fore he can have known how to move compassion by his
cries, or excite laughter by his playful gambols. Every
year of life increases his knowledge of miud ; he feels
himself urged by motives, he perceives a controlling



272 INTELLECTUAL PHILOSOPHY .

power in himself, when he chooses to exert it lo stop
the headlong current of the passions, or to direct them
into new and better channels, All observations upon our
own characters or those of others belong to mental phi-
losophy ; this is the most valuable, or the practical part.

When therefore you commence this study in books,
you continually meot with your own familiar thoughts.
You had often observed in yourself the power of re-
calling one thing by the help of others. For instance,
when you had entered an apartment for the purpose
of finding some article, you perhaps found that you had
forgotten what you went for ; you were unable by any
effort of memory to recal the lost idea, but by return-
ing to the place from whence you set out, were remind-
ed of it by its connexion with other objects. You may
not have formed any theory of the principle of association,
and are therefore prepared to listen with attention to any
explanation of phenomena which are a part of the histo-
ry of your own thoughts.

Mankind, who are ever prone to excesses, have, from a
period in which the study of the human mind was deem-
ed above the comprehension of females, and unsuitable
to their condition and character, gone to another ex-
treme in which the science of metaphysics is considered
little more than a pi ay thing for children ; and young misses
who rmve neither yet learned to think methodically or
reason accurately, are heard to talk learnedly of the opin-
ions o 'Locke, Stewart and Brown.

Son e of the elementary principles in the science of
mind, as the distinct nature and different destinations of
the sonl and body, the superior importance of the spirit-
ual pa:t, and the child's obligations to improve his men-
tal fat cities, ought early to be pointed out. Such works
as the Child's Book on the Soul,* which, in language
adapf?l to the capacities of children, leads them to re-
flect (i the nature and operations of the mind, cannot
be too highly valued by parents and instructers. These
truths form the foundation of all religious knowledge

* B\ Ir. Gallaudet. This little book ought to be found in all
Sunday -chool libraries.



INTELLECTUAL PHILOSOPHY. 273

and belief; a belief in them is anterior even to the idea
of a Creator. When the child in answer to the question,
' Who made you?' replies ' God/ he must comprehend
the truth, that there is a being whom he calls himself,
that this being is a something, unlike a stone or a plant,
neither of which, he knows, could understand or answer
a question.

Although some of the leading distinctions between
matter and mind should be taught even to children, I
cannot agree with those who recommend the study of
metaphysics as a preliminary step in education, on the
ground that pupils must be made to understand the na-
ture'of the mind; because that in education, this is both
the instrument with which the operation is carried on,
and the object which is operated upon.

We might as well insist that a boy was not qualified to
be put an apprentice to a carpenter, without a knowledge
of the principles on which the lever and other mechani-
cal powers operate ; in short, without understanding the
theory of mechanics. If a child could not compare, rea-
son or remember until he first understood the powers of
his own mind, and the abstract nature of comparison, rea-
soning, &c., these operations could never be performed ;
for the very study of them requires their constant exer-
cise, and an exercise rendered skilful by long practice.
If the writings of Stewart orBrown are put into the hands
of pupils whose minds are not ripe for such investigations,
the truths and reasonings cannot be comprehended, and
a rooted dislike will, probably, be acquired for the
study of mental philosophy. But if the mind has been
previously prepared by suitable discipline, enriched by a
knowledge of language, of history, and of natural science,
so that illustrations drawn from these various sources, may
be comprehended and enjoyed, then will the science of
rnind be drank in with a new and enthusiastic delight. Of-
ten have I,* with sympathising enjoyment watched the kin-

* The author, during several years, had charge of the depart-
ment of intellectual philosophy in the Troy Female Seminary,
during which time she had the happiness of instructing many
3 r oung ladies of distinguished talents and virtues, who now hold
a high rank in society, and honorably sustain the various re la-



274 INTELLECTUAL PHILOSOPHY.

dling glow lighting up the countenance of such a pupil, on
hearing for the first time an explanation of some familiar
operation of her own mind, or when tracing the map of
the human intellect, she beheld the innumerable little
rills which flow into the great ocean of thought, and traced
them to their mysterious fountain, mind. The sub-
lime truths of the science enter the soul in all their
freshness and beauty ; and this era in the history of her
own mind is ever remembered with deep and peculiar
interest.

I would not be understood as asserting that in the
study of mental philosophy, the way is invariably strewed
with flowers; or that the pupil is always rewarded by
the pleasure of eliciting truth. In no other science is
there such a tendency in authors to wander into the
mazy regions of hypothesis fancying that a new ray of
light has fallen upon their path, they often begin to see
things in a different aspect from their predecessors; and
although this new light may be but the coruscation of a
brilliant fancy, the hues which it imparts are looked up-
on as so many revelations made by the torch of reason.
Thus have metaphysicians been liable to be misled by
false lights, ever since the days of Aristotle, who asserted
that the mind resided in the brain, which was a dark cave
filled with miniature images, called thoughts, that came
forward for the inspection of consciousness, as they were
called up by memory, and retreated as they were dis-
missed by abstraction.

Since the time of Locke, metaphysical writers, follow-
ing his example, have made the operations of the mind
or its faculties, and not its nature or essence, the object
of their investigations. These operations are known to
us but in two ways, experience and observation, every-

tions of life. Not a few are among that class, who are fulfilling
one of the noblest and most important offices of life, that of teach-
ing the young ; while others are exemplifying in the domestic cir-
cle the beneficial influence of educated women upon human virtue
and happiness. When these pages shall meet the affectionate
glance of some of those whose memory is thus dearly cherished,
the eye will glisten and the cheek glow at the recollection of
former school-day scenes, of companions once beloved, and, it may
be, of her who watched over their intellectual progress, with ma-
ternal pride and anxiety.



INTELLECTUAL PHILOSOPHY. 275

thing gained by these sources is an addition to the stock
of human knowledge ; the great point is to know how
to seize upon facts, and embody them in a manner to be
intelligible to ourselves and others. Facts, in order to
be useful in science, must also be properly arranged ; and
the difficulty with most minds, is the want of a suitable
mode of arrangement.

Logic and criticism are instruments which teach the
arts of thinking and of arranging thoughts : metaphysics
is the science of principles, it instructs man in the na-
ture and use of his faculties ; it discovers to him his weak-
ness, but at the same time shows him his strength ; it ac-
quaints him with the extent of his reasoning powers, and
that although by these he may know many things, there
is a barrier beyond which he cannot pass. In this sci-
ence we learn to set bounds to the influence of human
authority upon the mind, and that no truths, however
strongly urged, should be received, but such as have a
claim to our belief, founded upon reason. The reason of
each individual, must be his own guide; and it therefore
becomes a matter of great importance that reason shall,
as far as possible be divested of prejudice, and assisted
with fixed and unerring principles.

In speaking of the influence of reason in matters of
belief, I would here observe, with respect to Divine
revelation, that after we have, by weighing its evidences,
become convinced that it is in fact what it professes to be,
the word of God, that it is impossible to resist the unit-
ed testimony of collateral history, prophecy, the evidence
of a multitude of competent witnesses, and the evidence
of effects now before our eyes, viz. thousands of worship-
ping assemblies calling on Jesus of Nazareth, and break-
ing bread in commemoration of his sufferings alter we
have become convinced that any one of these evidences
would be sufficient to establish their authenticity, and
that this concurring testimony furnishes a mass of evi*
dence which it is impossible for reason to resist or deny,
we must then fully and unreservedly receive the Scrip-
tures as the word of God. Are these writings sometimes
mysterious and unintelligible to us? So is the moral
government of God, so are the dispensations of his provi-



276 INTELLECTUAL PHILOSOPHY.

dence ; are the truths revealed of a nature which human
reason cannot fathom ? So are many of the facts in the
natural world, but do we deny the influence of that vital
principle which is the spring and source of organic life,
because it is invisible to us ? We see its effects and
therefore believe in the cause. Shall we deny the opera-
tion of the Holy Spirit upon the human heart, because
' it is a still, small voice, and we cannot tell whence it
cometh, or whither it goeth 1' We see the wicked man
turning from his evil ways, the proud becoming meek ; the
drunkard, temperate, the churl, liberal, he who once scoff-
ed at religion sitting at Jesus' feet and shall we deny that
these effects are uncaused, because we cannot explain
them by deductions from humnn reason ? Let us exalt
human reason to its proper rank, let us walk by its light
when we have none clearer ; but let us remember too that
He who gave man reason, and who * seeth not as man
sees/ is to be believed and obeyed without question as to
the propriety or expediency of his commands.

In all matters of human knowledge and belief, reason
must be our guide : when we find a subject to be beyond
our capacity we should cease to investigate. Plutarch ob-
served that as geographers, when they have laid down up-
on their map those countries which are known, place be-
yond these their terra incognita or unknown lands and
seas, so historians should use the same distinction with
respect to the fabulous and uncertain ages of the world.
Thus should we in all our researches endeavor to distin-
guish the boundary which divides the legitimate subjects
of human inquiry, from what is beyond the knowledge
of man.

No farther than perception will carry us, can we go in
any human science ; as discoveries are made, perception
is aided and rendered more acute ; thus the telescope
has brought the planetary worlds nearer to us and re-
vealed new facts with respect to them, which are added
to the science of astronomy ; the microscope has acquaint-
ed man with new wonders in the kingdoms of nature,
shewing him, where vision had not before discovered
life, that millions of living things exist, which we inhale
with the atmosphere, and drink in the purest water ; that



INTELLECTUAL PHILOSOPHY. 277

these animalculae inhabit every leaf, fruit and flower; and
some late discoveries would almost prove, that our own
material frame is but a mass of living atoms. Wherever
observations can be made, is a field for human inquiry.
But all questions are profitless, which relate to infinitude,
as infinite space and eternity ; to the connexion between
matter and mind, and to their essence; the inhabitants of
other worlds, and everything connected with a future
state, except as revealed in the word of God. All sub-
jects of this nature, should be considered by metaphysi-
cians as ' unknown, lands and unapproachable seas.

It is important that you should all understand definite-
ly, the end and aim of the studies you pursue. Mental
philosophy would be of little use, had it not its practical
applications. The members of this class profess to study
the human mind ; suppose hereafter, any one of you
in promiscuous society should unseasonably introduce
your knowledge, talk fluently of the opinions of Brown
and Stewart, or even give the result of your own profound
reflections, would this show that you practically under-
stood the human mind, or, as it is more commonly ex-
pressed, human nature '! It is to be presumed you would
all wish to please, when this can be done without any


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Online LibraryLincoln PhelpsLectures to young ladies, comprising outlines and applications of the different branches of female education, for the use of female schools, and private libraries → online text (page 24 of 27)