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fied money placed out in trust to be augmented and improved, has actually come specially to stand for mental endowments, and the word “talents” no longer signifies pieces of ancient coins, but that mental treasure which God has committed to the charge of som of us for the general advancement of mankind. Consider the many advantages which even the poorest of you have, as compared with those that fell to the lot of these illustrious men, some of whose names I have placed before you. If they could accomplish so much in the face of poverty, the neglect or contempt of their fellows, in solitude, without sympathy, without books, without apparatus, how much more ought to be expected from you who live in happier times, when all those things of which they felt the want, are in a great measure supplied
The Competitive Examination and Prize System of the Society of Arts.—The Soci. ety of Arts of London, whose Royal President, aided by its Council, not only matured the crude notions of an international display of works of industry and art into a grand conception, but realized it as a fact in the Palace of Industry of all Nations, erected in Hyde-park, in the first year of the present half century, the same Society are now prepared to carry into intellectual matters that principle of competition which was then sanctioned and confirmed in material things. We propose to hold public examinations conducted by men, some of them of the very highest eminence in literature and science. We commenced the system last June, at our house in the Adelphi, and the results were, indeed, most flattering and unexpected. For the information of those here present, who may not be fully acquainted with what the Society of Arts is now doing, I will give you a brief account of our proceedings. In the first place, you are all, no doubt, aware that the principal Mechanics’ Institutions of the country, nearly 400 in number, are in union with the Society of Arts. To ascertain how far our proposal might obtain the sanction of the friends of education, and of the great employers of labor, whether intellectual or bodily, throughout the country, we issued for signature a declaration of confidence in our fitness to undertake such a task, and of opinion affirming its importance. Although our scheme was not matured until the February of last year, or put forth to the world, as one that would be actually worked out, until the beginning of April, yet we had no less than 56 candidates at our examinations in the Society's House in the Adelphi, which extended over four days, the 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th of June, for nine hours each day. Now you will be curious to learn the results of that examination. Our best mathematician was a young man from Leeds, a bookseller's shop-boy. He passed so good an examination that the managers of the Kew Observatory, much to their credit, have appointed him Assistant-Observer, a situation which, to one of his predecessors, opened the way to rank and fortune. Within the last few weeks the Council of the Society of Arts have come to the determination to establish a public Registry of their certificated candidates, which they propose to throw open, free of charge, to all those persons who may desire to make merit and intelligence the qualifications of those whom they employ. Our examinations will be conducted with the most rigid impartiality, and with the greatest strictness. Indeed, the examiners know nothing whatever about the candidates, as they recognize them only by the number on their cards of admission. The Society of Arts, through its Board of Examiners, pledges its credit and character that the certificates which it issues, whatever the grade, shall state with the most precise accuracy attainable, and without the least tincture of exaggeration, the clear, uncolored truth. It is this truthfulness that will constitute the entire value of our certificates. But now some among you may object to this plan of general examinations, and say, examinations do not communicate knowledge. This is quite true; our Society does not profess to teach. It leaves education, and the instruction which is the chief instrument of education, in the hands of the various educational institutions throughout the country, whether they be schools or colleges, Trade Schools or Mechanics' Institutions. But it does profess to test and set its seal to the attainments of those whom it examines, in the shape of the certificates it awards and the prizes it bestows. It is too much taken for granted by educators in general, that when you have built a school-house, divided it out into class-rooms, hung the walls with maps and diagrams, and appointed a teacher with a committee of management, education must go on as it were by machinery. Though you catch your boys and impound them in your school-rooms, you cannot force them to learn. But once hold out to your pupils the inducement that every hour they give to hard labor, to real hard work, will tell on their future mental position and prospects of life, mark what a face of reality it will put upon all they are doing, how their attention will be awakened. I have had many instances of this brought under my notice during the last few months.
Now look at this matter from another point of view. The son of the nobleman or the country squire, when at one of the public schools, has all the rewards the University can bestow full in his view : its honors, its prizes, its scholars, its fellowships, its professorships are all within his reach. The very highest honors a subject can attain to, loom in the distance. What stimulants are these to unflagging exertion. Do not motives such as these invigorate and confirm the “constant will” to persevere to the end ? What inducements equivalent to these—I do not say equal, but even like in kind-do we hold out to the youth of the middle and lower classes ? Why should the son of the tailor or the shoemaker or greengrocer pore in solitude over books, and filch from idle sports and boyish amusements the few hours he can abstract from daily toil? He may become a profound mathematician. Who knows, or cares any thing about it, or thinks he is other than a mere pretender ? he may become a great chemist; who believes him? or a good botanist ; who puts faith in his pretensions ? The pure gold passes for base metal, because there is no legitimate authority to stamp it with the impress which would make it current. But for the Society of Arts, who would have ever heard any thing about those young men who obtained our certificates, or known any thing of their attainments ? Chambers would have remained in obscurity, selling books in a little shop, or working problems in solitude, had not the Society of Arts dragged him forth out of darkness into light. Few of you, I dare say,
knew that you had a very promising young chemist among you until the Board of Examiners had awarded a certificate in chemistry to your townsman Charles Wells. Let us briefly examine the probable working of such a scheme in actual operation. If every boy who goes to a commercial school, or every young man who attends classes at a Mechanics’ Institution, were convinced of this, that the Society of Arts' certificate, under seal, was a sure passport to recognition and employment, can you not see what a great encouragement you give, what a strong motive you hold out to increased and intensified exertions ? Again, consider how the Society of Arts' Examination would serve as a sort of educational test of the relative merits of different colleges, and schools and classes. Success at the Society's Examinations would test the kind of instruction given, precisely in the same way as the Universities indirectly control, guide, and test the instruction of our great public schools. There are other advantages too in this plan. It imposes no necessity of building new colleges or schools, or establishing professorships ; it takes the materials and tools provided to our hands and operates upon and by them. We do not propose to establish rival schools or antagonistic colleges to those already in existence, but endeavoring to deal with those we have, we shall not interfere with any vested rights, whether real or supposed. Co-operating with all, opposed to nothing but pretence and sham, we shall neither provoke hostility nor alarm suspicion, and as we respect the rights of conscience and the religious feelings of every class, our proceedings will have no tendency to excite sectarian animosity; there will thus be no ground for the separation of religious education from secular instruction. Both being left in the hands of the people themselves, their union will be secured with the utmost safety. And is not this view actually confirmed by the fact, that men whose names were never found in juxtaposition before in matters of education, or indeed in any thing else, have signed our declaration. Our declaration is headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, followed by the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Bishop of Oxford, the Bishop of Winchester ; then come the names of Mr. Edward Baines, of Leeds, the educational chief of the Dissenters of the North of England, of Mr. Apsley Pellatt, their political representative in the House of Commons, and Mr. Fox, the Member for Oldham, the advocate of separate secular education. Neither have we any political aspect. Amongst our host of signatures will be found those of Lord Ashburton, that zealous advocate of popular education, Lord Stanley, Sir James Graham, Robert Stephenson, and many others of every religious sect and political party.
before I conclude, let me ask you, the public, and through you the friends of education and progress all over the length and breadth of this great country, to co-operate with the Society of Arts in the noble work it has undertaken. How are we to co-operate, you will say : is it by subscribing money to the funds of your Society? Nothing of the sort. We do not want your money. The Society of Arts has an income of nearly £5000 a-year, which, being economically and judiciously managed, is amply sufficient for the development of its public objects. But you can most effectually promote this movement and benefit yourselves at the same time,
No. 8.-(VOL. III. No. 1.]–17.
by taking into your counting-houses, warehouses, shops, manufactories, mills, and factories of every kind, those young men who, by obtaining our certificates, shall have proved themselves to be intelligent, laborious, studious, and diligent. Several merchants and manufacturers of the highest eminence in the country, have promised us their co-operation in this way. That enlightened, friend of education, Mr. John Wood, the Chairman of the Board of Excise, has placed appointments at our disposal. In this way we propose to stimulate the intellectual activity of our candidates. Their moral characters you must scrutinize for yourselves; we profess to give no guarantee on that head; we undertake to answer only for diligence and acquirements. Yet I believe it will be found that in ninety-nine cases out of every hundred, “a young man who must necessarily have devoted to study a large portion of the time at his disposal, often very scant, can scarcely haye had much leisure for idle pursuits or vicious indulgences."
COLONEL Sykes in his Inaugural Address before the Society of Arts, has the following remarks as to
Agricultural Laborers.--There is a large portion of the lower classes of the population which has not the advantages, such as they may be, of the operatives in towns; removed, like the former class, from school in childhood, from their dispersion over a considerable area, they have scarcely the means of association or combination for the erection of common halls, common libraries, and the insuring instruction from lectures-I mean the agricultural laborers : unlike the mechanic—from him the further means of mental instruction in manhood are nearly cut off. It may, indeed, be said by the poet, that
"The field's his study: nature is his book ;" but I fear in the main his mental faculties are rarely sufficiently developed to enable him to reap much profit from the study of the fields or of nature. Beyond his wife and children, and the few of his own mental standard, the animals he tends are his associates, and he lives and dies almost debarred from intellectual development. The agricultural laborer, therefore, is peculiarly an object for the thought and consideration of the promoters of instruction amongst the poor. For him I see little help, except through village lending-libraries, if established by the country gentlemen, like those of the Hants and Wilts Adult Educational Society ; but chiefly his help must come from the itinerant book hawkers, designated by the French “colporteurs,”' I presume from carrying their packs upon their necks or shoulders. The books so hawked must necessarily be very cheap to be within the reach of the agricultural laborer; and of what vital importance it is that the information they are capable of imparting should not only be useful, but harmless, while it is to be feared the present supplies by the hawker stand in opposition to the latter category. Is it not an object, therefore, worthy of the Society of Arts, and in keeping with its other labors, to organize a system of supply to hawkers, of selected and cheaper books for the agricultural classes, for self-study and improvement, with the possible result of the Society finding itself applied to for examiners to grant certificates of intellectual competency to members of a class who have hitherto rarely aspired to any other distinction than that of being good farm-servants ?
SIR EDWARD BULWER LYTTON AT THE EXAMINATION AND FESTIVAL OF BISHOP's STORTFORD High School, July, 1856, addressed the company as follows:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, -I am sure I give utterance to the sentiment of all present, when I express the interest we have left in the ceremony we have wit nessed, and our gratification at the honors justly distributed amongst the boys who reflect so much credit upon a Hertfordshire school. There is something ir the promise of excellence, when displayed by the rising generation, which aws kens the most pleasing reflections in us of maturer years. Strangers though w be to them, yet we feel a pride in their success as if they were our own relations -and relations, indeed, they are, because our country is the beloved mother of us all; and boys are the younger sons of that mother, who will grow up to defend, and serve, and cherish her, when wo of the older race are no more. Well, young gentlemen, did you commence your proceedings with the National Hymn of "Rule Britannia.” For how did Britannia acquire her rule? How is it, that she has extended her sway from the island you scarcely detect on your map of the globe, to an empire covering lands unconquered by Alexander, and regions not even conjectured by Columbus? How has she achieved an empire still more durable and glorious in the human mind, by her arts and sciences—by her writers, her warriors, her statesmen, her philosophers, and divines? How has this been done, except by the energy and intellect of the men, who were once boys like you I see before mem-boys, who at school learned the value of generous emulation and the desire of praise--boys, who at school learned to prize sentiments and gallant actions—boys, who left school as you will leave this, reared and disciplined to support and advance the English name and character, in whatever condition of life Providence might place their lots. Everything which makes nation great, and its institutions lasting, depends upon the character given by education to its boys. And the value of good schools does not depend only upon the degree of book learning they bestow, but upon the habits of mind which they may form. Now, nothing in this day's exhibition, and the reports of the Examiners, has struck me more than the general equality of merit; but where merits are so equal and general, they must rest, not on the rare phenomenon of genius, but upon habits of mind capable of comprehensive results. You know Virgil tells us that “labor conquers everything;” and believe me, my young friends, that no one knows what he can do, till he has tried might and main to do it. Yes, you have learned betimes the two English virtues— Application and Perseverance. Every one can not be a genius, but every one can resolve not to be a dunce. You remember the story of the young Spartan who complained that his sword was too short, and the answer he received: "Too short! why, then, add
So it is with your talent. If your talent is not long enough to get at your object, add a step to it—that is, eke out your talent by good heart and determination, and go in and win. These virtues of perseverance and application, once made habits, will last you all your lives, though you may never again look to the school books in which you first devoted perseverance and application to the Latin Syntax or the Rule of Three. When you leave school, most of you will go into some business or profession. If you have learned to have perseverance and application, your success is sure; every difficulty gives way before them. By those habits the poor become rich--the humble-born acquire rank—and even those who are naturally dull and slow of intellect, obtain the advantages and rewards of talent. These qualities are to a man upon land what a life-belt is to him at sea. Let him buckle round his breast perseverance
a step to it."