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III. THE STATE AND EDUCATION.
What Lycurgus thought most conducive to the virtue and happiness of a city, was principle interwoven with the manners and breeding of the people. This would remain immovable, as resting on inclination, and be the strongest and most lasting tie ; and the habits which education produced in the youth, would answer in each, the purpose of a lawgiver. For he resolved the whole business of legislation into the bringing up of youth-which he looked upon as the loftiest and most glorious work of a lawgiver, and he began with it at the very source.
You [Athenians] will confer the greatest benefit on your city, not by raising the roofs, but by exalting the souls of your fellow-citizens; for it is better that great souls should live in small habitations, than the abject slaves should burrow in great houses.
EPICTETUS. That the education of youth ought to form the principal part of the legislator's attention, can not be a doubt, since education first molds, and afterwards sustains the various modes of government. The better and more perfect the systems of education, the better and more perfect the plan of government it is intended to introduce and uphold. In this important object, fellow-citizens are all equally and deeply concerned ; and as they are all united in one common work for one common purpose, their education ought to be regulated by the general consent, and not abandoned to the blind decision of chance, or to idle caprice.
ARISTOTLE. What, under heaven, can there be more worthy of our most strenuous attention, than knowledge ; what more worthy of our highest admiration? Is calmness or serenity of mind the object of our wishes ? What so likely to secure it as the pursuit of that knowledge which enables us to enjoy life in the happiest manner? Or do we esteem above all things unsullied integrity and spotless virtue? Either the study and acquisition of wisdom point out the path, or there is none, to the attainment of these distinctions.
By learning, the sons of the common people become public ministers; without learning, the sons of public ministers become mingled with the mass of the people.
I promised God, that I would look upon every Prussian peasant child as a being who could complain of me before God, if I did not provide for him the best education, as a man and a Christian, which it was possible for me to provide.
If you suffer your people to be ill educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for their crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this but that you first make thieves, and then punish them?
Though there be not many in every city which be exempt and discharged of all other labors, and appointed only to learning-that is to say, such in whom, even from their very childhood, they have perceived a singular towardness, a fine wit, and a mind apt to good learning-yet all in their childhood be instructed in learning. And the better part of the people, both men and women, throughout all their whole life, do bestow in learning those spare hours which we said they have vacant from bodily labors.
Sir Thomas More. Utopia. To make the people fittest to choose, and the chosen fittest to govern, will be to mend our corrupt and faulty education; to teach the people faith, not without virtue, temperance, modesty, sobriety, economy, justice; not to admire wealth, or honor; to hate turbulence and ambition; to place every one his private welfare and happiness in the public peace, liberty and safety. Milton. Way to establish a Free Commonwealth.
The discipline of slavery is unknown
But in their industry?
Thy might but in their arms ?
Oh grief then, grief and shame,
If in this flourishing land
Where squalid poverty
And on her wither'd knees
The education of the common people requires, perhaps, in a civilized and commercial society, the attention of the public more than that of people of some rank and fortune.
They have little time to spare for education. Their parents can scarce afford to maintain them even in infancy. As soon as they are able to work, they must apply to some trade by which they can earn their subsistence. That trade, too, is generally so simple and uniform, as to give little exercise to the understanding; while, at the same time, their labor is both so constant and so severe, that it leaves them little leisure and less inclination to apply to, or even to think of any thing else.
For a very small expense the public can facilitate, can encourage, and can even impose upon almost the whole body of the people, the necessity of acquiring these most essential parts of education.
The public can facilitate this acquisition, by establishing in every parish or district a little school where children may be taught for a reward so moderate, that even a common laborer may afford it; the master being partly but not wholly paid by the public; because if he was wholly, or even principally paid by it, he would soon learn to neglect his business. * *
A man without the proper use of the intellectual faculties of a man, is, if possible, more contemptible than even a coward, and seems to be mutilated and deformed in a still more essential part of the character of human nature. Though the state was to derive no advantage from the instruction of the inferior ranks of people it would still deserve its attention, that they should not be altogether uninstructed. The state, however, derives no inconsiderable advantage from their instruction. The more they are instructed, the less liable they are to the delusions of enthusiasm and superstition, which, among ignorant nations, frequently occasion the most dreadful disorders. An instructed and intelligent people, besides, are always more decent and orderly than an ignorant and stupid one. They feel themselves, each individually, more respectable, and more likely to obtain the respect of their lawful superiors, and they are therefore more disposed to respect those superiors. They are more disposed to examine, and more capable of seeing through, the interested complaints of faction and sedition; and they are, upon that account, less apt to be misled into any wanton or unnecessary opposition to the measures of government. In free countries, where the safety of government depends very much upon the favorable judgment which the people may form of its conduct, it must surely be of the highest importance that they should not be disposed to judge rashly or capriciously concerning it.
ADAM Syith. Wealth of Nations, Book V., Education of Youth. But there are other things, of the worth of which the demand of the market is by no means a test; things of which the utility does not consist in ministering to inclinations, nor in serving the daily uscs of life, and the want of which is least felt where the need is greatest. This is peculiarly true of those things which are chiefly useful as tending to raise the character of human beings. The uncultivated can not be com petent judges of cultivation. Those who most need to be made wiser and better, usually desire it least; and if they desired it, would be incapable of finding the way to it by their own lights. It will continually happen, on the voluntary system, that, the end not being desired, the means will not be provided at all, or that the persons requiring improvement having an imperfect or altogether erroneous conception of what they want, the supply called forth by the demand of the market, will be any thing but what is really required. Now any well-intentioned and tolerably civilized government may think without presumption that it does or ought to possess a degree of cultivation above the average of the community which it rules, and that it should, therefore, be capable of offering better education and better instruction to the people, than the greater number of them would spontaneously select.
Education, therefore, is one of those things, which it is admissible in principle that a government should provide for the people. The case is one to which the reasons of the non-interference principle do not necessarily or universally extend.
With regard to elementary education, the exception to ordinary rules may, I conceive, justifiably be carried still further. There are certain primary elements and means of knowledge, which it is in the highest degree desirable that all human beings born into the community should acquire during childhood. If their parents, or those on whom they de pend, have the power of obtaining for them this instruction, and fail to do it, they commit a double breach of duty ; toward the children them. selves, and toward the members of the community generally, who are all liable to suffer seriously from the consequences of ignorance and want of education in their fellow-citizens. It is therefore an allowable exercise of government, to impose on parents the legal obligation of giving elementary instruction to children. This, however, can not fairly be done, without taking measures to insure that such instruction shall always be accessible to them, either gratuitously or at a trifling expense.
John Stuart Mill. Political Economy, v. 9, § 8. That the people should be well educated is in itself a good thing: and the state ought therefore to promote this object, if it can do so without any sacrifice of its primary object. The education of the people, conducted on those principles of morality which are common to all the forms of Christianity, is highly valuable as a means of promoting the main end for which government exists; and is on this ground an object well de serving the attention of rulers.
Thomas BABBINGTON MACAULEY. Church and State, Athens, by this discipline and good ordering of youth, did breed up, within the circuit of that one city, within the compass of one hundred years, within the memory of one man's life, so many notable captains in war, for worthiness, wisdom, learning, as scarce to be matchable, no not in the state of Rome, in the compass of those seven hundred years, when it flourished much.
It is certain, that as things now stand, the two great parties into which the community is unhappily split upon this mighty question, are resolved that we should have no system of education at allno National Plan for Training Teachers, and thereby making the schools that stud the country all over, deserve the name they bear-no national plan for training young children to virtuous habits, and thereby rooting out crimes from the land. And this interdict, under which both parties join in laying their country, is by each pronounced to be necessary for the sacred interests of religion. Of religion! Oh, gracious God! Was ever the name of thy holy ordinances so impiously profaned before? Was ever before, thy best gift to man-his reason-so bewildered by blind bigotry, or savage intolerance, or wild fanaticism; bewildered so as to curse the very light thou hast caused to shine before his steps; bewildered so as not to perceive that any and every religion must flourish best in the tutored mind, and that by whomsoever instructed in secular things, thy word can better be sown in a soil prepared, than in one abandoned through neglect to the execrable influence of the evil Spirit ?
And shall civilized, shall free, shall Christian rulers, any longer pause, any more hesitate, before they mend their ways, and attempt, though late yet seriously, to discharge the first of their duties? Or shall we, calling ourselves the friends to human improvement balance any longer, upon some party interest, some sectarian punctillo, or even some refined scruple, when the means are within our reach to redeem the time and do that which is most blessed in the sight of God, most beneficial to man? Or shall it be said that between the claims of contending factions in church or in State, the Legislature stands paralyzed, and puts not forth its hand to save the people placed by Providence under its care, lest offense be given to some of the knots of theologians who bewilder its ears with their noise, as they have bewildered their own brains with their controversies? Lawgivers of England! I charge ye, have a care! Be well assured, that the contempt lavished for centuries upon the cabals of Constantinople, where the council disputed on a text, while the enemy, the derider of all their texts, was thundering at the gate, will be as a token of respect compared with the loud shout of universal scorn which all mankind in all ages will send up against you, if you stand still and suffer a far deadlier foe than the Turcoman-suffer the parent of all evil, all falsehood, all hypocrisy, all discharity, all self-seeking-him who covers over with pretexts of conscience the pitfalls that he digs for the souls on which he preys—to stalk about the fold and lay waste its inmatesstand still and make no head against him, upon the vain pretext, to soothe your indolence, that your action is obstructed by religious cabals—upon the far more guilty speculation, that by playing a party game, you can turn the hatred of conflicting professors to your selfish purposes !
Let the soldier be abroad, if he will ; he can do nothing in this age. There is another personage abroad, a person less imposing—in the eyes of some insignificant. The SCHOOLMASTER IS ABROAD; and I trust to him, armed with his primer, against the soldier in full uniform array.