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A HISTORY OF EDUCATION

A HISTORY OF EDUCATION
IN MODERN TIMES

CHAPTER I

THE MISSION OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

The Eighteenth Century as a Period of Individualism. In a work by that most brilliant of 'literary' historians, Thomas Carlyle, occurs the following characterization:

"This epoch of the eighteenth century was properly the End. The End of a Social System which for above a thousand years had been building itself together, and, after that, had begun, for some centuries (as human things all do), to moulder down.

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At length, in the course of it, there comes a time when the mouldering changes into a rushing; active hands drive in their wedges, set to their crowbars. Instead of here and there a stone falling out, whole masses tumble down, torches too are applied, and the rotten easily takes fire." 1

In the eighteenth century

are found the

climax of the

rebellion against the thority of

arbitrary au

And to one inclined to philosophize about the events of history, the eighteenth century is indeed filled with interest and significance. In this imaginary demarcation of time appear to be summed up all the institutions and developments of the seventeen preceding centuries of Christianity, and here may be found the climax of that rebellion against authority and the enslavement of ualism.

1

1 Carlyle, Diderot, in the Foreign Quarterly Review, 1833.

church and

state, and the period of ex

treme individ

the individual which had periodically been manifesting itself from the close of the Middle Ages. Prior to this century men had for the most part found their law in the realm of traditions and institutional activity. The two chief sources of authority and control were those powerful bodies, the church and the state. To these Europe was accustomed to look for guidance, and, as long as the reins were loosely held, there was but little complaint. It was generally the deprivation of rights and the curtailment of privileges that stirred up restless souls to wonder whence these institutions procured their authority and by what right they exercised their arbitrary rule. One revival after another-the Renaissance, the Reformation, realism, Puritanism, Pietism-had burst forth with great enthusiasm and promises of emancipation, only to fade gradually away or harden into a new formalism and authoritative standard. Yet with each effort something was really accomplished for freedom and progress, and the way was paved for the seemingly abrupt break from tradition that appears to mark the period roughly included in the eighteenth century.1 At this point it is evident that despotism and ecclesiasticism were at length becoming thoroughly intolerable, and a series of effective revolts was made from the traditional, irrational, and formal in church and state. The individual tended to assert his right to be an end in himself, and at times all institutional barriers were swept aside. This destruction went to an extreme in the French Revolution, and for a time individualism ran wild.

The Development of Socialization. But society could not pause here long. The freed individual had to be

1 See Graves, History of Education during the Transition, Chapter XX.

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