Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

cation cannot expect the same sympathy, we answer, that there is no object of more fitting commiseration than the “child left to himself.” Should it be insinuated that it is precaution, rather than sympathy, which induces us to stem infection and pauperism, it might be well replied, that there are no consequences more threatening than those of ignorance. If this be an evil and a mischief, the obligation weighs upon all to abate and overcome it. Policy and selfinterest may, also, not be inoperative in the determination of this conduct. The benefit of education, to every class of mind, has been by some doubted. They have discovered, in the unlettered, the vein of excellent sense. They have found a manly understanding and sagacity: “Rusticus, abnormis sapiens, crassāque Minervā.”* They have known the self-vindication of genius. It has grown up in a wild and rank luxuriance. They doubt whether the hardy mind of the first case would not be enfeebled by discipline: whether the independence and bloom of the second instance would not be compressed by rules and arts. But how often do both furnish occasions and specimens of this very want! The masculine vigour is dogmatic, abrupt, vain, supercilious, overbearing. The intellectual quality, which the sudden and powerful aestus denotes, and which men call genius, becomes wayward, self-willed, indolent, vicious. Neither are directed from without. In the one is a churlish dictatorship : in the other is an eccentric riot. Education would have given to the staid and sober intellect principles, maxims, tastes, impulses, which would have doubled its influence and power for guidance and for good. Education would have trained the soaring instinct of the more vivid and subjective intellect, with all its mysterious affinities and yearnings, teaching its track and balancing its flight. It is an idle prejudice, that it can injure any. It is a cruel misanthropy which would deny that it is a boon of inestimable value for all !

* “A peasant, who is a philosopher ignorant of the rules, and with a blunt mother-wit,”—Horat: Sat: lib. ii. 2.

“Doctrina sed vim promovet insitam,
Rectioue cultus pectora roborant.”*

* “Education awakes the innate power of the mind, and high cultivation confirms it.”—Borat: Carm : lib. iv. 4.

The following illustrative Speech is preserved. It contains the true sublime. It was spoken by the first Civil Engineer in the world, George Stephenson. That man is little to be envied who can read it without admiring tears. The occasion of its delivery, was the Opening of the Newcastle and Darlington Railway, on Tuesday, June 18th, 1844. He and others had travelled from London to the former town (300 miles) that morning. Well might he be called to celebrate such a triumph over resistance and space and time !

“Mr. Chairman and Fellow-townsmen—In rising to return thanks for the kind manner in which my health has been proposed and drunk, I am too sensible of my incompetency to acknowledge the compliment as it deserves. You will, however, forgive me all my imperfections, well knowing that I have no talent for speaking. But as the hon. member has referred to the engineering efforts of my early days, it may not be amiss if I say a few words to you on that sub

We all perceive that any interference with our charitable institutions,—whatever should destroy their spontaneousness and self-government, must tend to their subversion. Their end would not only be in danger of defeat, but the moral character of the nation would suffer total eclipse. That perennial spring of kindness and pity, which now sends forth such abundant and healing streams, would be sealed. The bands of society would be burst asunder. Our civic life would be wholly transformed. All pity

ject, more especially for the encouragement of my young professional friends. Mr. Liddell has truly told you that, in my early days, I worked at an engine in a coal pit. I had then to work early and late, often rising to my labour at one and two o'clock in the morning. Time rolled on, and I had the happiness to make some improvements in engine-work. The first locomotive that I made was at Killingworth Colliery, and with Lord Ravensworth's money. Yes! Lord Ravensworth and Co. were the first parties that would entrust me with money to make a locomotive engine. That engine was made thirty-two years ago. I said to my friends that there was no limit to the speed of such an engine, provided the works could be made to stand. In this respect great perfection has been reached, and, in consequence, a very high velocity has been attained. In what has been done under my management, the merit is only in part my own. I have been most ably assisted and seconded by my son. In the earlier period of my career, and when he was a little boy, I saw how deficient I was in education, and made up my mind that he should not labour under the same defect, but that I would put him to a good school, and give him a liberal training. I was, however, a poor man; and how do

you think I managed 7 I betook myself to mending my neighbours'

clocks and watches at night after my daily labour was done; and thus

I procured the means of educating my son. He became my assistant

and my companion. He got an appointment as under reviewer, and

[graphic]

would be a vice, and all relief a circumvention of

legislative design. We revolt at the consummation

which rises upon us. Let us not see this ruin of our Country ! Its sun could not set in a darker night! But it will be contended, that education is not to be classed with ordinary charities. It is to stand out as an exception. It is a more solemn and difficult duty. It is the proper business of the government. It must not be left to private hands. On this opinion we offer the following animadversions.

at nights we worked together at our engineering. I got leave to go to Killingworth to lay down a railway at Hetton, and next to Darlington; and after that I went to Liverpool, to plan a line to Manchester. I there pledged myself to attain a speed of ten miles an hour. I said I had no doubt the locomotive might be made to go much faster, but we had better be moderate at the beginning. The directors said I was quite right; for if, when they went to Parliament, I talked of going at a greater rate than ten miles an hour, I would put a cross on the concern. It was not an easy task for me to keep the engine down to ten miles an hour, but it must be done, and I did my best. I had to place myself in that most unpleasant of all positions—the witness-box of a Parliamentary committee. I could not find words to satisfy either the committee or myself. Some one enquired if I were a foreigner, and another hinted that I was mad. But I put up with every rebuff, and went on with my plans, determined not to be put down. Assistance gradually increased—improvements were made every day—and to-day a train, which started from London in the morning, has brought me in the afternoon to my native soil, and enabled me to take my place in this room, and see around me many faces which I have great pleasure in looking upon. Friends and fellow-townsmen, I thank you most heartily

for your kind reception, and wish you every happiness this world can afford.”

We repeat our protest against all attempts to disseize parents of their rights in their children. The everlasting statutes of nature forbid the rapine. However flattered and extenuated, the act is outrage. Disguised as it may be, it is odious tyranny. It is treason against the sympathies of the universe.

Nor are we less strenuous in our resistance of compulsory education as a wrong to all liberty. Shortsighted are they who would abridge, or suspend, this, for a greater good. There is no greater good! There can be no greater good! It is not a simple means, it is an end. And is it not the most trenchant despotism to take any human mind,-added to the injustice and robbery of alienating it from that charge to which Providence and Nature have entrusted it, Hand to adjudge what knowledge it shall, or shall not, receive 2

And it is only a covert mode of exercising the same interference, when benefits are attached to those who yield to it, and, of course, disadvantages follow to those who refuse. The far-reaching eye of the legislator and the philosopher sees here no trifling injustice. Persecution may consist in withholding privilege, as well as in inflicting suffering. Not only does it operate in outraging person and property, but in abstracting or lessening the advantages which another direction of opinion might have secured. Every man in this country is visited with it, who, because of peculiar religious conviction, is denied perfect

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »