« PreviousContinue »
EARLY SCHOOLMASTERS OF NEW YORK.
HYLAND C. KIRK, PHELPS, N. Y.
Says that eminent historian, Diedrich Knickerbocker, “ There is something exceedingly delusive in thus looking back, through the long vista of departed years, and catching a glimpse of the fairy realms of antiquity. Like a landscape melting into distance, they receive a thousand charms from their very obscurity, and fancy delights to fill up their outlines with graces and excellences of its own creation.” Thus loom on my imagination those happier days of our city, when as yet New Amsterdam was a mere pastoral town, shrouded in groves of sycamores and willows and surrounded by trackless forests and widespreading waters that seemed to shut out all the cares and vanities of a wicked world.
It was a pleasing sight, in those times, to behold the honest burgher, like a patriarch of yore, seated on the bench at the door of his whitewashed house, under the shade of some gigantic sycamore or overhanging willow. Here would he smoke his pipe of a sultry afternoon, enjoying the soft southern breeze and listening with silent gratulation to the clucking of his hens, the cackling of his geese and the sonorous grunting of his swine,that combination of farmyard melody which may truly be said to have a silver sound, inasmuch as it conveys a certain assurance of profitable marketing.
One needs to be suitably impressed with the conditions here suggested, remembering that the delusions of distance are wholly with himself, in order to get anything like an accurate concept of the truth. One needs to consider not only the freshness of the scenery and the dreamy wildness of its pictures, not only the sluggish movements and general laziness of the honest burgher, but also the shrewd and avaricious spirit of the first Dutch settlers on these shores, in order to understand a part of the difficulties under which the early schoolmasters of New York had to labor.
It was, undoubtedly, in one of these whitewashed houses that the first school* on this continent was founded, though the name of the teacher and the exact date of its establishment are not known. In accord with the educational policy of the Hollanders, prior to the settlement of New Netherlands, a school must have been organized almost contemporaneously with their landing in America. The settlers themselves grew up under a system which provided for the education of children at the public expense, and the Dutch West India Company were actually required by their charter to maintain schoolmasters, as they also were preachers and krank-besoeckers, i. e., comforters of the sick.
These three offices appear to have been combined at first in the same individual, a practice which was continued with more or less latitude for a considerable period. Carel de Beauvois, the first schoolmaster of Breuckelen (Brooklyn), was commissioned “to serve summons, to conduct the service of the church and to sing on Sundays; to take charge of the school, dig graves, etc., ring the bell and perform whatever else may be required.” ( Annals of Education, by D. J. Pratt.) If this indicates a very funny state of things, it is, nevertheless, a key to the difficulties forced upon these early schoolmasters.
Adam Roelandsen, or Roelansten, has the honor of being called the first schoolmaster of New Amsterdam, though he is really the first who did not combine the function of teacher with the profession of preacher. In the governorship of Wouter Von Twiller, Dominic Bogardus was the officiating minister, and Roelandsen rejoiced in the separate vocation of schoolmaster. Following is a list of the earlier teachers : Adam Roelandsen
1633-1639. Jan Cornelissen
1640-1650. William Verstius
1650 - 1655. Johannes de la Montague Jur
1652 - 1663. Harmen Van Hoboocken
1655 - 1664. Evert Pietersen
1661 - 1668. Alexander Carolus Curtius
1659-1662. Aegidius Luyck
1662 - 1664. Little is known of the quality of the service these teachers performed, but it is a matter of record that nearly all of them were subjected to legal difficulties. Roelandsen had no less than fifteen suits at law. Cornelissen also had to maintain lawsuits. Verstius, after much delay, an increase of salary having been denied him, was granted permission to return to Holland. Little is known of Montague. Hoboocken's school-house was burned, and his request to use the side chamber of the city hall denied. On account of his ill health, he was superseded by Pietersen, who seems to have met with better treatment. Curtius, the first Latin schoolmaster, a special importation from Holland, encountered unusual difficulties. The magistrates opposed him, and “the parents complained of the want of proper discipline among the pupils, “who beat each other and tore the clothes from each others backs.' He retorted by saying ' his hands were tied, as some of the parents forbade him punishing their children.'"
* This claim is hardly established to the satisfaction of many of the best students of early Colonial history, but is to say the least a debatable question. -[EDS. EDUCATION,
( Annals of Education.) He closed his official career, as Roelandsen had previously done, with a lawsuit about hogs !
The influence of Stuyvesant seems to have been entirely favorable to school interests, and by his approval, Rev. Aegidius Luyck, who had come to New Amsterdam for the purpose of instructing Stuyvesant's sons, became the second Latin schoolmaster. He gained a reputation which brought him pupils from Fort Orange, the Delaware, and even from the Virginia colony. It was Luyck who, on the occasion of his marriage with Miss Judith Van Isendooren, became the subject of two alleged poems, written by Domine Selyns. The happy event occurred
“ The second day of Christmas,” 1663, when the reverend gentleman delivered himself of the two rhythmical effusions. The following extract from one of these, “The Bridal Torch,” shows how Cupid, the wily elf, transfixed the lovers in the fort of New Amsterdam :
“While Judith stands beneath, Luyck looks from the embrasure,
Where did he shoot?' 'Where was't he shot?' inquire the folks.
The other production, “ The Nuptual Song," the whole of which may be found in Murphy's Anthology, seems to have had more reference to the day and its suggestions. Here is the fifth stanza :
“And as they bring this child before them,
Standing before this Christ-like crib;
For Judith is his second rib.”
There were a number of private schoolmasters in New Amsterdam. The first of whom reference is made is Adrisen Jansen Van Ilpendam, 1645 - 1660, whose rate of tuition was two beavers per annum. Another private teacher, Jan Juriaense Baker, licensed August 16, 1660, was clerk of a church, read the sermons on Sunday; also kept a tavern and was at one time convicted of selling liquor to Indians, for which offense he was fined five hundred dollars.
After the capture of New Amsterdam by the English, in 1664, attempts were made, it would appear by direct authority of the government, to break up the Dutch schools. Luyck’s - Latin school was continued, however, for some eight years after the English came into power. In a.“History of the School of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church,” by H. W. Dunshee, it is claimed that this school, which is still sustained in New York City, is the same as the first public school established by the Dutch. It is certain that they vigorously opposed the efforts to suppress their language, and to offset the corrupting influences upon their children of English, Irish, Welsh and Scotch, all of which were spoken on the streets, they sent to Holland as late as 1755 and imported a genuine Dutch schoolmaster, John Nicholas Whelp.
So great was the tide of British immigration and the influence of the new tongue, that English appears to have been introduced into Whelp's school. Whelp received a salary of two hundred dollars a year, and the use of a house and garden up to the year 1773, when his death occurred.
John Shutte, the first English schoolmaster in the country, was licensed to teach at Albany by Governor Nicolls, October 12, 1665, “upon condition that the said John Shutte shall not demand any more wages from each scholar than is given by the Dutch to their Dutch schoolmasters."
It may also be of interest to add that the first school mistress in the province was probably “a travelling woman who came out of
ye Jerseys, who kept school at several places in Rye Parish.” This was in 1716; her name is not given.
THE DUTY OF YOUNG PEOPLE TO OBTAIN THE
BEST EDUCATION POSSIBLE.
MARY A. WHEDON, DEVIL'S LAKE, NORTH DAKOTA.
With his marble block before him;
As an angel dream passed o'er him.
With many a sharp incision;
He had caught that angel vision." Education, as defined by Webster, is “instruction ; the cultivating of the moral, intellectual and physical powers.” Let us consider the subject of education not only from a scholastic point of view, but from the more including plane of current topics of the day,—the subjects which are awakening dormant energies, hidden interests and latent powers of able men and women, who, having vital views borne in upon them, rise and say: “Here I stand ; I cannot otherwise.” And thus goes on the multiplication of fields, the lengthening and strengthening of lines, by which we are creeping to higher and nobler planes of living. The question of education is coming to be — what is the most useful, the most strengthening, the most uplifting ? The solution of it is the development and culture of the reasoning faculties ; not merely the highest forms,-inductive and deductive reasoning—but analyzation, comparison, abstraction, judgment, conception, generalization, or truth-discerning.
In ancient times, the Romans considered the highest kind of education to mean physical development and strength, and to combat with brutes and even with human life, in the coliseums and arenas, was the plane aspired to, sought after and followed up. And to what purpose was this course, do we ask? Just a glance at the results will answer the question. From it all grew a lack of mental calibre upon which to build government,