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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most difficult lessons, as mathematics, or philosophy,
should be studied. Drawing, music, botany, chemistry,
and other pursuits which are not of an abstract nature,
can excite an interest even when the mind is fatigued.
But when the mind appears in any degree overstrained,
it should be suffered to relax, until it spontaneously recov-
ers its tone. It is evident that in all intellectual as well
as mechanical labors, the work accomplished must be in
proportion to the power exerted. When the mind is
languid it is impossible for it to put forth power, time can-
not make up for mental energy. One hour of success-
ful effort is worth more than days of weak attempts.
In order to keep the mind active, regularity must be ob-
served in exercise, diet, and sleep : they gain nothing
who disregard the body in their zeal for mental improve-

* This study is generally pursued in the institution in connexion
with some other branches.


merit ; if disordered or enfeebled, it will certainly react
upon the mind.

Fifth, Endeavor to fix your attention exclusively upon
the study in which you are engaged.

Attention is indeed every thing; without it nothing
requiring mental effort can be well done. In bodily op-
erations we may acquire so great a facility of execution
that we have no need of attention : thus a musician can
perform a familiar air without thinking of his notes.
Some feminine employments, as sewing or knitting, ope-
rations which at first seemed complicated, in time be-
come so familiar as to require no attention ; the hands
seem instinctively to perform the accustomed move-
ments : but mental exercises demand attention.

It is perhaps the most difficult task of young students
to gain that command of their trains of thought which
scientific research requires. How many are diverted
from the subject upon which they engage, by the most
trifling circumstances ; even the appearance of a fly upon
a window, an object in the street, or a slight noise in an
adjoining apartment, are each sufficient to call off their
attention. And if even no pretence should offer, the
mind wearied with the unusual attempt at investigation,
gladly goes in search of some more pleasing exercise of
its powers. The enjoyments of home are called up ; the
days or weeks are counted which have intervened since
the dear spot was left, and the many which are to pass
until examination is over and these tedious books can
for a time be laid aside.

But I will not attempt to imagine all the reveries in
which a school girl may indulge, even when demurely
looking at her book, during the allotted time for learning
her lessons. Your own consciences can say how often
the ringing of the recitation bell has found you unpre-
pared, after such unprofitable aberrations of thought. But
let me urge all who are conscious of such injurious hab-
its, to strive to acquire an ascendancy over yourselves,
by carefully guarding the avenues of your minds. Be
resolute against admitting desultory thoughts, when you
need all your concentrated mental powers to bear upon
the subject before you. The task will at first be diffi-


cult, but you may in time have the satisfaction of feeling
that you can fix your attention, or govern your trains of

Sixth, Endeavor to understand as far as possible the
nature, objects and ultimate end of the studies you pur sue.

Thus, when questioned as to your progress in education
you may be able to state what you have done, what you
design to do, and the bearing which all this is intended
to have upon your future life. With such ideas as these
fixed in your mind, you will not, when hereafter questioned
as to what you did in school, have occasion to say with the
young lady, who, returning from a boarding school, and
being asked what she had studied, answered, that she
' could not tell without looking at her books, and they
were all in her trunks/

May you, my dear pupils, have your intellectual and
moral natures imbued with the instructions you are now
receiving ; and may the fruits of an enlarged and liberal
-education appear in elevation of character, and the adapta-
tion of your minds to the various exigencies of life ;
may you be not only intelligent and intellectual women,
but good members of society, faithful and judicious in
all your relations in life, and above all, pious and consist-
ent Christians.


Reading. Spelling,. A rticulate Sounds.

FROM our previous remarks upon intellectual improve-
ment, it may be inferred that a proper discipline of the
mind is of still greater importance to the young, than
the mere acquisition of knowledge.

The various branches of modern education have been
considered under two heads : 1. Such as seem chiefly
valuable on account of their effect in strengthening and
developing the mental powers. 2. Such as are chiefly
useful for the knowledge they convey. In the former


class are ranked mathematics and languages ; in the lat-
ter, geography, history, &c.

We cannot, however, make any definite classification of
the different departments of learning on these principles,
since the acquisition of any one science has a beneficial
effect on the mind, whose capacity for receiving increases
in proportion as it receives. On the other hand, there
is no science but may be highly useful in its applications.

Geography, which is considered chiefly useful for the
knowledge of facts which it communicates, affords exer-
cise for many of the faculties of the mind; the memory
in retaining facts, the power of comparison when viewing
different countries with their peculiarities as to physical
and moral condition, of abstraction when a river or moun-
tian are considered without reference to any other cir-
cumstance. Geometry, which is so higly recommended
by Locke and others, for its influence in training the
mind to habits of reasoning and methodical arrangement,
has its practical applications to astronomy, drawing, nat-
ural philosophy, and mechanics.

With respect to the various branches of natural science,
botany, chemistry, &c., it would be difficult to say
whether they are most to be valued for their intrinsic
utility, or for their salutary influence upon the mind.
The inquiry is often made of what use can it be for a fe-
male to study botany or chemistry. Such inquiries show
either an illiberal spirit, or great ignorance. Considered
in reference to the mind only, these studies are of vast
importance ; botany accustoms the mind to systematic
arrangement, definite rules of classifications, and strict
attention to the import of terms ; chemistry, by its minute
analysis, gives a habit of discrimination and observation,
which is of the utmost importance to all, especially to
those who are about commencing the journey of life.
Neither are these sciences without their important prac-
tical applications ; these will be considered when we come
to treat of each individually.

I shall now proceed to the various branches of fe-
male education, endeavoring to give general views of
the different sciences, their origin and history, their ad-
vantages and practical applications. The first step in


the literary education of a child after it has learned the
alphabet, is that to put the letters together, forming the
compound sounds called syllables; and then to unite
these syllables into words. This process is called spelling.,
and also orthography, from the Greek orthos, correct, and
graphia, writing, meaning to write words correctly. The
term orthoepy from orthos, correct, and epo y I speak, sig-
nifies correct pronunciation.

The habit of spelling correctly is an acquirement so
necessary, that the want of it cannot be overlooked ia
any one who makes pretensions to an education above
the lowest grade. There are, indeed, persons who, al-
though deprived of the means of early improvement, have,
by industry and talents, gained wealth and influence
without being able to spell correctly. But such feel their
deficiency with the keenest sense of mortification, and
would be the first to caution young persons against care-
lessness in this respect.

It might seem as if in addressing the members of this
institution, it were unnecessary to dwell for a moment on
the importance of a branch of education which it is the
business of primary schools to teach, and which you
ought to be perfected in, before your entrance into this.
Yet I am sorry to say, that too many, who are ambitious
of the higher walks of literature, are careless in this re-

Owing to the defective method of teaching spelling in
many primary schools, pupils often leave them with little
practical knowledge of this important branch. To learn
to spell long columns of words, arranged without any re-
ference to their meaning, proves not to be of much use
when the pupil attempts to write. I have known a pupil
who was distinguished as the best speller in a common
school, and who seldom was known to ' miss a word in her
lesson/ scarcely able to write a letter which could be read,
from the badness of its orthography. She had been accus-
tomed to connect the letters with the sound of the words.
In schools where the only method of spelling is with the
voice, it is customary for the pupils in studying their les-
sons to move the lips, and many cannot study without
doing this. In writing, the eye must be practised in order to


detect erroneous spelling. It is for this reason that we
approve and practise the mode of teaching spelling by
dictation, or the pupils writing words upon a slate, or a
black board, after the dictation of the teacher. By care-
fully following this mode, you may soon correct any bad
habits with regard to spelling, which you have been suf-
fered to form.

I trust you are all aware that with respect to young la-
dies who enjoy your advantages, bad spelling cannot be tol-
erated. This would not only be disgraceful to yourselves,
but to the institution to which you belong. Some may
feel that they are too old, and have too much to do to join
the class in dictation, who are yet conscious that they are
deficient in spelling. To such, a dictionary must be a con-
stant writing companion. Yet should you, after all your
care, have the mortification of seeing your compositions
returned from the teachers with the .spelling corrected,
let me recommend to you to make a memorandum of the
words misspelt, with their true orthography, so that you
may be sure of not committing the same error the second
time.* I have known pupils acquire such an inveterate
habit of misspelling certain words, that after frequent cor-
rections, their compositions would continue to exhibit the
same mistakes ; this is not only careless in the extreme,
but disrespectful, showing that neither self-interest, or
a regard to her teacher, operates in the mind of one
who is thus, after repeated admonition, guilty of the same

There are some words of irregular orthography, which
many are liable to mistake ; as receive, in which the e pre-
cedes i, contrary to more frequent usage, as in friend, be-
lieve, &,c. where e follows i. Words which take an addi-
tional syllable in respect to doubling the final letter ; from
permit, we have permitted, while from visit we have
visited. The rule for doubling the t in the first case, and
not in the second, is that in permit the accent is on the

* In making out such a list of words, only the correct mode of
spelling should be copied. If the false orthography is set by the
side of the true, the person will always be in doubt as to the right
way ; for by the principle of association the one is no less readily
-suggested than the other.


last syllable, and in visit, on the first ; it being a general
rule, that a word ending with a consonant, and having the
last syllable accented, doubles the consonant on the ad-
dition of another syllable, while a word ending with a
consonant and not having the accent on the last syllable,
dpes not double the final consonant.

A few rules for spelling should be written in your
memorandum book ; for dictionaries will not assist you in
the case of many derivative words. Thus, from the primi-
tive word holy come the degrees of comparison holier, ho-
liest ; but if the y at the end of a word have not a conso-
nant before it, it is not changed into i on the addition
of another syllable, as from joy is derived joyful.

Connected with the subject of spelling, is that of the
sounds and powers of letters. With modern im-
provements in education, there is a neglect of some parti-
culars which were more thoroughly attended to when
many fountains of knowledge were sealed, which are now
open to the young student. Formerly the introduction to
We'bster's Spelling Book, containing in some three or four
pages, rules for accent, the sounds of letters, &c., fur-
nished matter for months of study. Although we would
not wish to bring back those barren days of education, it
cannot be denied that the scarcity of school books ensured
a more thorough knowledge of some of the elementary

I have sometimes found, to my great surprise, a young
lady quick to comprehend mathematical truths, who
knew something of Latin, and was perhaps a proficient in
French, puzzled to -tell the difference between accent
and emphasis, or to give a rule for pronouncing g likej
in giant, and with a hard sound in go, or for giving c dif-
rent sounds in cedar and cable.

There is in the study of articulate sounds and the powers
of letters, much deep philosophy ;. arid whoever thinks it
beneath attention, little understands its importance or diffi-
culties. It is easy to tell the difference between a vowel
and consonant, a mute and a semivowel; but to understand
fully the nature of articulation, we must study the various
modifications which the air sent out by the lungs, is ca-
pable of, in order to produce die wonderful variety of
sounds whhin the compass of the human voice.


f Dr. Paley observes, ' the lungs are to animal utterance
what the bellows are to the organ ; they are air vessls
which become inflated and then collapsed as the air is in-
spired or expired/ You can perceive that in respiration
the chest alternately expands and contracts. This mo-
tion is caused by the action of the lungs, which are two
spongy lobes, or divisions suspended in the chest, being
connected with the trachea, or wind-pipe at the upper
part. The air which enters the lungs is received into the
minute cavities of which they are composed ; these are
called air cells. We cannot at this time describe the
manner in which the air is expelled from the lungs, the
effect of respiration upon the blood, and the motion, of the
heart caused by the constant rushing of the blood from this
to the lungs and from the lungs to the heart, with the
change that takes place in the nature of the blood after
coming in contact with the oxygen of the air, which is in-
haled by the lungs ; though all this is easily explained and

At present we are only to consider the lungs in refer-
ence to their office in furnishing the air necessary for ar-
ticulating sounds. This air passes back through the
windpipe, which is that tube that we can feel externally
to be composed of cartilaginous rings. * The top of the
windpipe is called the larynx ; at the upper part of this,
and behind the tongue, is the glottis, a very small open-
ing through which the breath and voice are conveyed.
It is in the passage of the air through this minute aper-
ture that articulate sounds are formed. By means of va-
rious muscles or threads, which draw in different direc-
tions, the glottis is susceptible of many degrees of expan-
sion, and it is by varying this cavity that the different
vowels are sounded. The air in passing a large cavity,
produces a low or flat sound, through a small cavity, a
high or sharp sound. This may be seen in the vowels
a, e, i, o, u, which proceed in regular order from low and
flat to high and sharp sounds.

Oral language, or speech, consists of articulate sounds ;
brutes utter various inarticulate sounds, expressive of
their peculiar feelings. The cat when quietly reposing by
the parlor fire, expresses her satisfaction by a gentle pur-


ring ; when her capricious little mistress amuses herself
by tormenting her, she vents her sorrows in piteous mew*
ing ; and when roused to anger by the cruelty of the
dog, she growls her indignation. Mankind also have
means of expressing violent emotions by inarticulate
sounds, as by laughing, crying, or screaming. But it is
only by articulate sounds and their representatives, that
intercourse can be satisfactorily carried on between ra-
tional minds ; these are the links which bind together our
spirits they are wings by whose means the soul is borne
from its corporeal prison to unite in the interchange of
thought and feeling with kindred souls.

May this gift of a bountiful Creator never be perverted
by you, my dear pupils, to unworthy purposes ; may your
words be a true index of your hearts, pure, gentle and
kind. A deceitful world may tell you that falsehood
and dissimulation are necessary, but believe it not. True
politeness is consistent with sincerity or singleness of
heart, and if you once lose this, and commence a system
of duplicity your whole lives may become a tissue of ar-
tifice and hypocrisy. Let your hearts be pure, and you
need not fear to have their true image reflected to the
world. He who gave you the power of language, adapt-
ing your bodily organs in so wonderful and complicated
a manner to this object, requires that you order your
speech in sincerity and wisdom.



IF God had formed us for solitude, he would not have
given us the wish to converse with other minds; or if,
like brutes, we had been irrational, we should not have
needed language. Speech peculiarly distinguishes man
from the other living beings on earth.

The word language is derived from the Latin Iingua 9


tongue, and originally signified only the communication
of ideas by articulate sounds. Its signification is now
extended not only to the communication of ideas by
writing, but we speak of the language of the passions, as
expressed by various natural signs. The division which
is generally made of language is into oral* and written.
The sciences which have an especial relation to language,
considered as an instrument of conveying those thoughts,
are grammar, rhetoric, logic and criticism. Grammar'
teaches us to arrange words, answerably to certain rules
of agreement and government ; rhetoric teaches the use
of figurative language, and gives directions for attaining
clearness and precision in style ; logic teaches the meth-
od of arranging words in a certain manner, in order to
establish the truth or falsehood of propositions ; criticism
teaches on what principles of the mind depend our tastes
for various kinds of style, and brings to the test of those
principles the writings of various authors. All other
sciences are communicated by means of language, but
these have for their object language itself, or in other
words, in these sciences language is not only the instru-
ment with which the operation is carried on, but the ob-
ject upon which it is performed.

Before proceeding to consider the principles on which
language is founded, we will make some remarks upon
reading, which is the next step to spelling, in the scale
of literary knowledge ; indeed modern education usually
proceeds with both at the same time, not waiting for a
child to be able to spell words of several syllables, before
he is allowed to experience the new emotions connected
with an exercise which brings the thoughts of others to
him when he is alone, and opens to him a new and de-
lightful source of enjoyment. As soon as a child knows
its alphabet, it can be taught that m y spell my, and that
cat spell cat ; he can then put the words together and
read, my cat. In a short time he can be taught to read
little stories composed of words of one syllable, and from
this, the transition is easy to words of more than one syl-

* From os, oris, the mouth.


It is but a few years since teaching a child to read
was a very different process from this. The little mar-
tyr in commencing his education, was sent to school to
be confined for many long hours in the day, upon a hard
seat, with only the occasional change of being called up
for a few minutes to say his letters. The alphabet pre-
sented was often in a small, obscure type, and printed on
bad paper. The teacher pointing to the letters, pro-
nounced their names, requiring the child to repeat them
after him. This becoming an exercise wholly mechanical,
day after day passed bringing the poor child apparently
no nearer the completion of the formidable task of learn-
ing its letters. From the principle of association he be-
comes able to call one letter after another when they are
presented in regular order; but taken separately and in
any other place than the accustomed column of letters,
they are as unintelligible as Hebrew or Greek charac-
ters. I have known children of good abilities tortured
for months and even years in this absurd and stupifying
method of teaching ; and when the teacher, in despair, has
put them upon spelling, the work has been found to be
accomplished ; as a few exercises of this kind connect
in the child's mind the form with the sound of the let-

But here again the child's progress is interrupted by
the mistaken idea, that before beginning to read, he
must be able to spell words of several syllables. He
reads abasement, ambiguity and cotemporary, with a mind
entirely vacant of thought ; indeed, he is not aware that
the words have any meaning, or any other use than to
fill the columns in his spelling book. The reading les-
sons first presented were often dry and abstract proposi-
tions, wholly beyond the comprehension of any child,
even one whose mental powers had been properly culti-
vated. In the most popular spelling book* which has
been in use for the last half century in our common
schools, the first lessons in reading are of this nature.
There are, however, in the book, some things of a differ-
ent kind ; and the story of the ' old man who found a rude

* Webster's.


id by

boy upon one of his trees stealing apples/ is perused by
the young student with great delight, for the simple rea-
son, that he can understand it.

The method of infant school education affords a pleas-
ing contrast to that just described. Knowledge is here
made easy and pleasant ; the intellectual faculties are
roused by objects addressed to the senses. Pictures with
their names attached are presented to the children ; and
in deciphering theoe names, they learn to consider words
as representatives of things. In process of time, it is easy
for them to learn that words may also be the representa-
tives of ideas.

The different manner in which children read, who are
taught by these two processes is apparent. A child un-
accustomed to consider written language as the sign for
things and ideas, or to read without knowledge or inter-
est, would have no idea of emphasis or intonations. The
habit of reading mechanically once formed, is with dif-
ficulty broken, even after the development of reason, and
the cultivation of taste exhibits written characters as kin-
dled by the fire of genius, or glowing with the most im-
passioned feeling.

To early defects in education, we must attribute the
fact, that there are among us, few good readers. There
are many requisites for good reading, besides early hab-
its. It requires not only knowledge of language, of the
derivation and signification of words, but an acquaint-
ance with the passions of the human heart, and with the
different tones in which they should be expressed. It re-
quires also a quick conception to seize upon the meaning
of a passage, so that for the moment, the author's spirit
shall seem to be transferred to the breast of the reader.
All this is necessary in order to read well ; is it there-
fore wonderful that there are so few good readers ? How
common is it to hear a pathetic passage read with an air
of indifference, and without the slightest intonation of the
voice, a lively description without animation, or an argu-
mentative discourse without emphasis or force.

Rules for reading may do something, example may do
much ; but after all, good reading must be the effect of

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 7 of 27)