Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/869

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LITERARY NOTICES.

comprehensive task of writing a history of his times. I have no theory of his life to establish or destroy. Mr. Lincoln was my warm, devoted friend. I always loved him, and I revere his name to this day. My purpose to tell the truth need occasion no apprehension, for I know that 'God's naked truth,' as Carlyle puts it, can never injure the fame of Abraham Lincoln. It will stand that or any other test, and at last untarnished will reach the loftiest niche in American history." Of Mr. Herndon's fitness for this task, Mr. Horace White says, in the introduction which he contributes: "What Mr. Lincoln was after he became President, can be best understood by knowing what he was before. The world owes more to William H. Herndon for this particular knowledge than to all other persons put together. It is no exaggeration to say that his death, which took place at his farm near Springfield, Ill., March 18, 1891, removed from earth the person who of all others had most thoroughly searched the sources of Mr. Lincoln's biography, and had most intelligently and also lovingly studied his character. He was generous in imparting his information to others. Almost every life of Lincoln published since the tragedy at Ford's Theatre has been enriched by his labors. He was nine years the junior of Mr. Lincoln. Their partnership began in 1843, and it continued until it was dissolved by the death of the senior member. Between them there was never an unkind word or thought." Mr. Weik, the co-author, was for several years indefatigable in exploring by personal investigation the course of Lincoln's life, never satisfied with taking anything at second hand, but following everything up to its source. Mr. Horace White has enriched the book by contributing personal recollections of his association with Mr. Lincoln during the debates with Douglas—by which Mr. Lincoln's fame was established.

How Shall my Child be Taught? pp. 276. The Spirit of the New Education. Pp. 282. By Louisa P. Hopkins. Boston: Lee & Shepard.

The material of these volumes consists of various papers and addresses written by a supervisor of the Boston public schools. They are not merely theoretical, but embody the results of a fruitful experience in primary teaching and in the training of teachers. Altogether they present a plea for the natural method of education, which, although the oldest form of instruction, is now called "new," as opposed to the prevailing mode of memorizing from text-books. No better comment can be made on this reform in teaching than that of Colonel Higginson: "The difference between a natural and an arbitrary method of acquiring knowledge is simply the difference between rowing with the current or against it." The desire of the child sent to school is generally to observe, to question, and to construct. He is for the most part taught to look only at his books, to be quiet, and to make nothing. It is in the primary and preparatory schools that learning by rote still flourishes. At the beginning and end of our educational system we have given up artificial culture; we have object lessons in the kindergarten, the laboratory, and lecture in the university. Meanwhile, manual and industrial training act as wedges for the introduction of freedom in the intermediate schools.

The new method is not only the better way to educate, it also helps to mold character. The object of education is even more important than the form. The way in which the school thrusts aside responsibility for moral development is exemplified in the boy who "could lie, steal, and swear unchecked, but, if he chewed gum in school, got an awful thrashing." Here the method of teaching is morally operative. If the child's activities are not repressed, but directed toward some absorbing work, there will be little occasion for misconduct. In any case, petty discipline defeats itself and corporal punishment is the resource of the teacher who has failed.

How shall my Child be taught contains discourses upon primary teaching, an account of a year's experiment in training, parables on Nature and life, and oral lessons in arithmetic and science. In illustrating mental action there is an astonishing note to teachers. The author directs that the distinction between mind and brain shall be fully shown by citing cases of unconscious cerebration: "They will then know that the mind is quite distinct from the brain, and the soul can live without this body"!

In The New Education there are practi-