Puslapio vaizdai

History, which is first in Lord Bacon's enumeration, is still considered to be the fittest study for statesmen. An extensive knowledge of history will doubtless be of great advantage if other knowledge be not precluded by it; but, as regards the public business of these times, it may be questioned whether this branch be not disproportionately esteemed, in comparison with others. A knowledge of particular epochs, connected with peculiarity and revolution in the state of societies, and especially with modern revolutions, is chiefly valuable and indispensable. And all histories in which the lives and actions of men are represented in minute detail will furnish knowledge of human nature and food for reflection. But summary histories, such as those of Hume and Gibbon, though not to be altogether dispensed with, should hardly be read in abundance. They are useful as giving a frame-work of general knowledge, into which particular knowledge may be fitted. But

as to other uses, they commonly do but charge the memory with a sequence of events, leaving no lively impressions or portraitures, and consequently teaching little. They treat, in ninetynine pages out of a hundred, of what is common, not distinctive -common to all mankind, or to large classes common to all ages, or at least to long tracts of time; and we gather little more from the names and events of five centuries than what was conveyed to us by those of one. For it is from individualities that we learn; and even the political character of an age will be best taught when it is thrown into the life and character of an individual. Thus, for example, Lord Strafford's despatches and the Clarendon state papers will be studied with more profit to a statesman than any history of the reign of Charles I.; and it is the materials for histories, rather than histories themselves, which, being judiciously selected, should be presented to the perusal of the pupil.

But there are severer studies than these, which are, to say the least, as necessary, and which are more likely to be neglected. A general knowledge of the laws of the land, and of international law, of foreign systems of jurisprudence, and especially a knowledge of the prominent defects of the system at home, should be diligently inculcated; and political economy should be taught with equal care, not less for the indispensable knowledge which it conveys than as a wholesome exercise for the reasoning faculty employed in this science less loosely than in ethics or history, less abstractedly than in mathematics.

In the further progress of the pupil, it will be well that he should be brought more closely to matters of business, and taught the application of his knowledge. With this view, public documents, which have been printed for Parliament or otherwise, may be made use of. Let a B 3

question be selected which has been inquired into by a committee of either House of Parliament; let the minutes of evidence taken before the committee be laid before the pupil without their report; and let him be required to report upon that evidence himself, exhibiting, 1st, The material facts of the case as drawn from the evidence; 2d, The various views and opinions which have been or might be adopted upon the matter; 3d, The conclusions of his own judgment, with his reasons; 4th, If he concludes for legislation, a draft of the law by which he would execute his purposes; 5th, A draft of the speech with which he would introduce his proposed law to the notice of the legislature. If the inquiry relate to executive matters rather than legislative, as in the case of any investigation made into the propriety of the dismissal of a public servant, his task will be to state the facts, to point out circumstances of extenuation or aggravation,

and to deliver his opinion of the conduct and deserts of all parties concerned.

Concurrently with these exercises, the pupil should be encouraged to frequent juvenile debating societies. If the practice of public speaking be not begun in youth, it will be a matter of serious difficulty afterwards; and failure will then be more disheartening, humiliating, and hurtful. Moreover, it may be observed, that they who have to surmount the nervous embarrassments by which a novice in public speaking is beset, commonly do so by lashing themselves into an excess of fervour and vehemence: vehemence is almost always mistaken for irascibility; and thus the novice, whilst disguising trepidation, is supposed to be betraying ill temper; and has fixed upon him the reputation, which is of all others the most disadvantageous to a statesman at the commencement of his career, that of being hotheaded and overbearing.

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