Front Page Titles (by Subject) INTRODUCTION BY THE EDITOR. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs)
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INTRODUCTION BY THE EDITOR. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). In 11 vols. Volume 8.
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INTRODUCTION BY THE EDITOR.
Mr Bentham was one of the first to recognise the extraordinary improvement in the method of instruction developed by Mr Lancaster and modified and extended by Dr Bell. The account of the results attending its application to the acquisition of language, given by several eminent teachers from their own actual trial of it, and more especially the statements of Dr Russel, then Head-master of the Charter-house School, and of Mr Pillans and Mr Gray, masters of the High School of Edinburgh, (Appendix No. 2. and 3. pp. 59 and 61)—made a strong impression on Mr Bentham’s mind. If it were true, as stated by Dr Russel, that since he had introduced into the Charter-house School books prepared on the simple principle of the Madras System, no boy had ever passed a sentence of which he was ignorant, nor been flogged on the ground of his learning; if it were true, as stated by Mr Gray, that since he had introduced this system into his school, his whole class had gained a more extensive knowledge of the Latin language than he had ever known on any former occasion; that not a single boy had failed; that it had enabled him entirely to abolish corporal punishment; that it had animated his whole school with one spirit, making them all advance in the intellectual career with the like ardour, and though not with equal success, without a single failure, and that Mr Lancaster had put into his hands an instrument which had enabled him to realize his fondest visions in his most sanguine mood;* —if such results were obtained by the application of this instrument to the acquisition of Latin and Greek, what, said Mr Bentham, may not be expected from its application to the whole field of knowledge? Are there not several branches to which it might be applied with still greater advantage than to language; and is there one which does not afford the promise of at least equal success?
Mr Bentham thought that these questions must be answered in the affirmative, and the great interest which he naturally took in this subject, was strengthened by the desire expressed by some friends of his, among whom were several statesmen and men of wealth, that the experiment should be tried; that a Day School should be opened for the children of the middle and higher classes, in which the principles of the new method should be applied, not only to the teaching of language, but of all the other branches of instruction which are ordinarily included in the curriculum of the highest schools. With his usual ardour, Mr Bentham immediately proposed that the school-house should be erected in his own garden, and that he himself should take a chief part in the superintendance of the school; at the same time his opulent friends agreed to supply the requisite funds.
But these arrangements having been determined on, Mr Bentham now saw that the most difficult part of the undertaking still remained to be accomplished. It was necessary to bring out the principles of the new method more distinctly than had yet been done, and to shape them into so many instruments, each capable of being applied, by ordinary hands, to its specific use: it was equally necessary to review the whole field of knowledge in order to ascertain to what branches of instruction these instruments might be applied with the greatest promise of success; and to what, if any, their application should not be attempted.
The accomplishment of such a project was well calculated to call forth all the energies of Mr Bentham’s mind, and he immediately applied himself to the work. In the meantime, this new school and the devotion of Mr Bentham to the development of the plan of it, became matter of conversation among the philosophers, statesmen, and friends to education of the day. The determination which had been come to, to exclude Theology from the curriculum of instruction, on the ground that its inclusion would be pregnant with exclusion, was also very generally discussed. Alarm was taken at the rumour of this omission; and clerical influence was brought to bear upon the minds of some of the more opulent persons who had encouraged the project, with the ultimate result of causing them to abandon it. However he might regret the loss of support which had been so readily and confidently assured to him, Mr Bentham was not on that account to be turned aside from his purpose. He resolutely persevered in the completion of his part of the compact; and hence although there is no school in the garden of Queen Square Place, yet we have the Chrestomathia.
Whatever other useful purposes may result from the intellectual labour which has been spent upon the production of these papers, it will be found that they are capable of affording special and invaluable assistance to two different classes of persons. First to him who is desirous of developing and strengthening his own intellectual faculties, and of rendering his mind capable of making some progress in the field of original thought and invention, and of extending the domain of science. Such a person should give his days and nights to the study of the instrument described in Appendix, p. 101—128, (and further illustrated in the work on Logic, p. 253 et seq.,) and to actual practice with it. There is no intellectual gymnasium from exercise in which a powerful mind will derive so great an accession of strength.
Secondly, to him who is desirous of improving the character of elementary school-books. In the first number of the Westminster Review, in an elaborate article written nearly twenty years ago, on the Chrestomathia, after an attempt to show, that, for perfect instruction in all the physical sciences, as well as in geometry, algebra, and language, nothing is requisite but elementary books adapted to the new system, the writer asks whether “it be too much to hope, that there are men of science, whose benevolence will induce them to undertake a labour which, humble as it may appear, can be performed only by a philosophical mind which has thoroughly mastered the art and science to be taught. Can any scholar be more nobly employed than in writing such a book on language? or any natural, moral, or political philosopher, than in disclosing to the youthful understanding, in the most lucid order, and in the plainest terms, the profound, which are always the simple, principles of his respective science.”
Since Mr. Bentham wrote, the perception, in the public mind, has become more clear and strong, of the folly of consuming more than three-fourths of the invaluable time appropriated to education, “in scraping together,” as Milton expresses it, “so much miserable Greek and Latin,” by persons of the middle classes, to whom it is of no manner of use; to whose pursuits it bears no kind of relation; who, after all, acquire it so imperfectly, as to derive no pleasure from the future cultivation of it; who invariably neglect it as soon as they are released from the authority of school; and, in the lapse of a few years, allow every trace of it to be obliterated from the memory. Not only is it now generally admitted, that the subject-matter of instruction for these classes should consist of the physical sciences, as well as of language, but it is, moreover, beginning to be perceived, that some advantages would result to the community from opening the book of knowledge to the very lowest of the people; that everything which it is desirable to teach even the masses, is not comprehended in the facts, that there is a devil, a hell, a so-called heaven, a Sunday, and a church, but that there are things worthy of their attention connected with the objects of this present world,—the properties and relations of the air they breathe, the soil they cultivate, the plants they rear, the animals they tend, the materials they work upon in their different trades and manufactures,—the instruments with which they work,—the machinery by which a child is able to produce more than many men, and a single man to generate, combine, control, and direct a physical power superior to that of a thousand horses. There is a growing conviction, that the communication of knowledge of this kind to the working classes would make them better and happier men; and that the possession of such knowledge by these classes would be attended with no injury whatever to any other class. The want of elementary books is therefore becoming every day more urgent; nothing has yet been done to supply them; and yet here, in the Chrestomathia, there is a mine from which any competent hand might dig the material, and fashion the instrument.
The comprehensiveness of the view taken by one and the same mind, of every subject included in such a work as the Chrestomathia, cannot be expected to be equal; nor were all the subjects treated of by Mr Bentham left by him in a state which he regarded as complete. The papers which relate to Geometry and Algebra, in particular, appeared to require revision; and the Editor thought it right to place them for that purpose in the hands of a universally acknowledged master of these sciences. After a careful examination of these manuscripts by this gentleman, they were returned to the Editor, with the following observation:—“That although much has been done in relation to these subjects, on many of the points treated of by Mr Bentham, since the time at which he wrote, or so shortly before it, that he could not know of it; and though his views of first principles were unmatured by the consideration of their highest results, yet the publication of these papers, without alteration or omission, is still desirable, as exhibiting many useful, and several original, trains of thought; and offering many suggestions, of which, though some are imperfect, and others obsolete, the greater number may furnish matter for reflection even to those who have made the exact sciences more their special study than did Mr Bentham.”
Several passages in this work will appear obscure, and a few perhaps unintelligible, owing to the occurrence in the manuscript of some words, so illegible, that those best acquainted with Mr Bentham’s hand-writing have been unable to decypher them. The only liberty taken with the manuscript has been that of supplying, in these comparatively few cases, the best conjectural word that could be imagined. It has been deemed a duty to publish these papers in the state in which Mr Bentham left them, it being no part of the office of an Editor to intermeddle with the thoughts and expressions of the author.
[* ] The essential excellence of this system is not lessened by its having been found to be practicable, after experience in the working of it, to improve the monitorial part of it.