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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1835,
By W. C. WOODBRIDGE,
THE PROSPECTS OF THE ANNALS."
"" EDUCATION” again! one of the “eternal subjects,” and the necessity of “ a periodical on education!” It has been talked of, and written about, and inculcated, and explained, and illustrated,' (some of our readers will perhaps exclaim ) until we are weary of it. We are called upon to attend to an essay on this worn-out, tedious subject; and this is only the first article of the first number of the fifth volume of a work, which we are also to read, or to consult, or if we do neither, to pay for, as a means of promoting education!'
And what shall we do on receiving such a greeting, at this season of compliments,-neither the “Happy new year!' nor the equally cordial reply, “I wish you many!'-and all for what? Because it is our lot to present a subject so important that it requires attention every month, so long talked of, that it has become wearisome to the ear, so familiar that it is thought every one understands it, and yet so imperfectly known, that to discuss it, in the view of many, is only to convert a matter of plain common sense, into a science of impenetrable mystery, or an art of unattainable intricacy.
We have often wished we could discover or invent, in place of the hackneyed word “education,' some new term which should not drive away our readers by the very title of a work or an essay. But after all, we should probably only fare like those who attempt innovation in the technics of religion, and be branded as 'new lights,' while we should be obliged to present the old truths under the new disguise, and perhaps incur the charge of double dealing, and fall to the ground between opposing parties. We should still be compelled, like the religious teacher, to impose serious and selfdenying duties, to demand close and careful attention to our subject, and to require the warmest feelings of the heart, the most vigorous efforts of the mind, for a distant, and as many regard it, an uncertain good. It is here, in truth, that our great difficulty lies. •Business, stocks,' and 'interest,' are terins which never tire the eye or the ear of those who are seeking wealth; or if they excite a momentary sensation of weariness, it is soon overcome by the ruling passion. The politician is seldom weary of reading speeches, or of attending meetings; nor does the word 'politics,' or * measures,' or 'office,' ever fail to rouse his mind to action, and his heart to emotion. But education is a paralyzing word, because it brings with it either the idea of a profession too little honored, or of duties too unostentatious, too burdensome, to gratify vanity, or ambition, or the love of ease. While our subject is thus destitute of the attractions which belong to most of the every day topics, it is not invested with the authority which divine revelation gives to all the principles and precepts of religion. We
can, indeed, appeal to reason, and give the results of experience; but in addition to the variety of standards for a good education, there is a still greater variety of opinions as to the manner in which its objects are to be attained, and a mass of individual prejudice to be overcome, arising from the general neglect of this subject, and the isolated coudition in which each educator has from necessity remained.
Still, our task is before us. We have commenced a new number, of a new volume, and with the same deep conviction we have ever felt, of the necessity of diffusing information on this subject. We still feel, that the very apathy with which we have to contend, is an additional and most urgent motive to new efforts.
But we are happily furnished with encouragement also. The current of public feeling on this subject, is evidently widening and deepening every year. The Governors of most of our States feel themselves called upon, to give education a prominent place in their annual messages. Legislatures and committees are occupied with plans and measures for its advancement. New voluntary associations have been formed for this purpose ; and their anniversaries are attended, and spoken of, with interest. The associations and lectures for adult education are multiplied; and the means of self-instruction extended and cheapened, in a manner hitherto unexampled. Books upon the science and art of education are increasing. Newspaper paragraphs are more frequent. A Mother's Magazine has secured thousands of subscribers; a Father's Magazine is commenced ; and notwithstanding the failure of every periodical yet commenced on the general subject, except this, we still find private enterprise and the advice of friends,' afford sufficient encouragement for attempting new ones.
But we have ourselves received substantial evidence of an interest in the cause, and in the Annals, which advertisements have made familiar to our subscribers, but not to all who will receive the future numbers, and which ought to be recorded on the pages of the work as a counterpart to the appeal long since inserted. After three years of unrewarded toil, and the expenditure of all his surplus means to sustain the only periodical on education in our great and growing country, the editor still found it involved, beyond his power to extricate it, without abandoning its future publication. The friends of the cause came forward ; they urged him to state the case to the public, and they sustained his statement. The wealthy contributed liberally of their wealth ; those who earned their bread by their labor, gave of their poverty ; and those who could do neither, plead the cause with an energy, and efficiency, which were not less cheering to our labors, than useful to the cause. The result has been, that in a year of uncommon pecuniary pressure, nearly two hundred sets of the Annals have been sold, to be distributed to private families, or placed in the libraries of our colleges, or state legislatures, or employed as a text book, in institutions where teachers are preparing for their important task. The wider diffusion and greatum usefulness of the work has thus been secured ;