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We would, therefore, when certain writers urge moral training, admit the idea, but at the same time greatly expand it beyond their ambition. We see clearly that education has hitherto scarcely touched the spiritual good of man. The higher principles of Christianity have found little access to the people's heart. In them is the power which is now wanted to regenerate society. General discipline may do much for the public mind, and even for the public morality, but there it stops. It leaves the real nature of man the same. Something more is required to stem the eager passions of its selfishness. Are the masters of intellect always the true reformers of the soul ? Do not the Titans assail heaven? Is mental process the invariable guide to virtue and piety? Is infidelity the mistake only of the ignorant ? Is war the exclusive delight of the rude? Is there not now an intense activity of mind labouring with all the prodigies of evil ? But in the gospel we possess the instrument which called into existence the first Christians. It is eternally the same. Yet with an ever-adapting faculty it anticipates the wants of each social condition. It belongs to all truth and to all goodness. It is the inheritance of every age. It is the friend of man in his every estate. It works by an assimilating action. It turns all into itself. What would a nation of Christians be? What would be a world ? That is the ultimate design,- that the blessed reward, -- that the glorious victory,--of true Education !
However we be disposed, whatever may be our prejudice, the cause of knowledge must proceed in our country. Mechanical invention secures a thousand facilities. Where is now the buried village? Where now the unvisited dale? Where now the unexplored neck of land ? Where now the inaccessible islet? By the powers of the Steam Locomotive we thread the most difficult track, and by our Steam Marine reach the most perilous coast: peculiarities of dialect and diversities of custom yield to a common standard : we live in one vicinity, and shall soon be a people undistinguished among ourselves. Privileges which were territorial are rapidly becoming independent of space. The element of metropolitan life diffuses itself through each province and assimilates it. There is scarcely favoured haunt. Light breaks forth with its proper universality. We are henceforth an intermixed race. Wings could hardly have given us greater power of speed: certainly not such sustained power of progress. And a beneficent State, in happy concert with all this apparatus of movement, has bestowed the means of a most perfect interchange of thought. At the cheapest cost the poor may all but live with their most distant relatives and friends : city talks to city: man spiritual, yet identical, is every where. What can restrain the tide of intelligence in such a country ?
ON THE ADVANTAGES ARISING FROM THE EDUCATION
OF THE PEOPLE.
HOWEVER we may congratulate ourselves that the desirableness of Education is universally allowed, because it is not openly impugned, there are many symptoms of dissent. It is held by not a few, if held at all, with many qualifications. They yield, but with no small doubt and reluctance. They know that they are left behind in the progress of opinion, and shame seals their lips. They would, at heart, that the days of ignorance had not passed away. The hope has not quite died in them that those days shall yet return. They think, though the thought must not be revealed, that the evil will retrieve itself. The overflowing tide has struck the pole and may recoil. They hear of the benefits of knowledge, they even load themselves with certain epithets of reproach for their want of appreciating powers, and, having soothed themselves with their irony, whisper oracles which predict consequences of mischief and ruin.
Contemptuous language comes with an ill grace from many of these declaimers. Horace might speak of the “profanum vulgus,”* and Cicero of the "turba et colluvione ;”+ we should remember, however, that in the one instance it is as “Musarum sacerdos," I and that in the other it is with high aspirations “ ad illud divinum animorum concilium cætumque." $ But when they, who themselves were but recently raised in property above the industrious classes, speak disdainfully of them, who wear the marks of their origin in their ignorance, derision and disgust may well contend together in our breast. They, in troth, must gravely declare their fears for the safety of society, should education spread! They confidently foresee that soon the poor will be “above working,” and “ get the upper hand !” Why ought any man to work, in their sense of the term, who does not please? Why do they not work ? The sauciness of bloated wealth, the giddiness of sudden elevation, are, of all impertinences, the most difficult to bear. “There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes, and their eyelids are lifted up.” They may lull their fears about “ the upper hand.” In their sense of the word, that ascendancy is safe. Knowledge has no tendency, no power, to usurp it. But by the combination of other elements around that ascendancy, it may become less and less dignified and enviable. It may, and the time cannot
* “ The profane crowd.”—Carm : lib. iii. 1.
I “ Priest of the Muses."
be distant, cease to draw forth the idol-honour which now is paid to it. It will in vain look around for that influence which it now commands. Mammon will be left alone in its temple : the image may be unspoiled, but only a scornful silence and solitude shall surround it,-its priests will have refused to offer and its votaries to adore. Nor can we doubt that there are other kinds of worship which are fated to be much reduced. Even now we feel that the true imperial names, the names which rule the world, are not those of sceptred monarchs or laureled heroes. These will, it may be for long time, command for themselves monuments and statues. But the men of intellectual originality and power, are the real potentates and conquerors. Theirs is no vulgar, fleeting, sway. They need not the honours of shrine and sculpture. Or, if these be awarded them, - if they lie inurned among the cloistered dust of kings and warriors, how does the mind feel at once the proper distinctions between the spoilers and instructors, the scourgers and benefactors, of our race !
That the tuition of the labouring orders must produce its effect upon the whole structure of society, is not denied. That inconveniences may arise from it, cannot be fairly contested. Any suddenness of movement, however, need not be feared; it is impossible. But the question occurs, Is society rightly based, and would not this pressure upon it, which can be only intellectual and moral, be advantageous ?