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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 would be a 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 ? 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
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 it, when they went to Parliament, I talked of going at a greater rate than ten miles an hour, I would pat & 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- she witness-ber 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-im. provements 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,—and to adjudge what knowledge it shall, or shall not, receive ? . 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 equality with others; or who, in consequence, is refused his share of any public and national benefits, to which he, in common with others, pays his support. It is quite time to give up such narrow sets of ideas. The most negative injury,
- any depression in society, — any passing by, -any slight, -any postponement, —for conscience sake, is persecution. The administration of such a law cannot fall equally. The encouragement to education, by any penal disabilities on its neglect, is the civil proscription of those who never enjoyed its means. Men are treated as responsible, who were not free agents. Calamity is condemned for guilt. It is still more unrighteous. It visits the grievance on a mental state as crime. Any direction of law is absurd which cannot be pursued. Where could you stop? You punish the uneducated mind. What other mental habits and conditions will you punish? “Be just,” is the rule of our Constitution. To delay and withhold justice is its violation. But if only a class were entitled to it, would it not be a base desertion, a monstrous abandonment, of that charter which decrees equal protection to the life, property, and liberty, of all ?
On the same ground, a Literate qualification for electoral rights in the commonwealth, must be condemned. The man has not sinned, but his parents. The stimulus comes too late for personal improvement. But while we deem such a proposal as utterly unjust, what a stigma is it, and what ruin may it bring, that the power of voting for the legislature, the true sovereignty, of the land, is often associated with the rudest ignorance! What country can be safe, whose freedom is thus entrusted to the custody of vulgar stolidity and prejudice! Such brute power can only be expected to exercise itself in the most dangerous extremes. Like the shifting ballast of the storm-tossed vessel, it is sure to be propelled to the wrong side.
A principle is worthless which cannot be carried out. If the principle, involved in our present question, be, that education is the province of government, then are subjects to be regarded indifferently in its application. Having houses and fields, or not having them, -the one rule applies. These are but accidents: they leave the principle what, and where, it was. If it be, however, intended to make it only concern them who will not perform the duty themselves, the inference is fatal. Then it was not the original duty of government, but one that has lapsed to it. Another inference is as necessary, that when parents will resume it, the duty reverts to them unprejudiced and unimpaired.
It is easy to say that the danger is only problematic, that it is but a possible abuse. All danger should be guarded, all abuse should be counteracted. We ought to be prepared for the worst. Nothing can be right and good, which, of itself, can be made the means of injury and the subject of perversion. The cause is evil which contains these evil seeds and powers. It is easy to say that the suggestion of this possible turn of events is a breach of justice and charity, that it cannot be offered without the imputation of the