Изображения страниц


Schoolmasters, united for a professional object, should impose a religious test upon its members. They might judge in some measure how the present rule had operated by the want of success that had attended the society's operations during the past year. The society was regarded, not as a general but as a sectional one; and while it retained this limited aspect it could never expect to accomplish any very great and important results.

The original motion was lost.

We extract a few passages from Dr. Booth's lecture as published in The Literarium for Jan. 7, 1857.

Discoveries in Art and Science are for the Advancement of the Masses.Books, that were once in the hands of nobles and prelates only, sometimes worth even a king's ransom, are now, thanks to the art of printing, within the reach of the poorest of the community. Libraries existed before the days of Caxton, the newspaper and the reading-room are of a subsequent date. Again, consider how much human labor has been relieved by the application of gunpowder in great engineering and mining operations. Who shall compute the amount of human toil which a knowledge of the power of this agent would have saved in the piling up of the Pyramids of Egypt, in excavating the Tem. ples of Ellora, or in cutting out the sculptured shrines of Elephanta? How much suffering of the masses would a little of this chemical science have averted in the building of the Roman acqueducts, which a scientific appreciation of the simplest law of the equilibrium of fluids, now known to every school-boy, would have shown to be superfluous. Need I do more than allude to steam, or the steam-engine—that great modern Cyclops—or to the improvement and cheapening of iron, that most valuable of all the metals, or to the innumerable inventions of machinery, bearing on the cheap manufacture of textile fabrics, or to the application of mechanics and chemistry to agriculture? Only consider the facilities afforded to the poor man of conveying his labor—his only capital—to the uttermost parts of the earth by steam navigation and railway locomotion. The great in every age could travel luxuriously if not expeditiously, but now the artisan can travel with as much personal comfort as the gentleman could thirty years ago. Suctonious, speaking of Augustus, says, "He was borne along by slaves, and the gentle motion allowed him to read, write, and employ himself as in his cabinet. Though Tivoli is only sixteen miles from the city, he was always two nights on the road."—Well

, then to bear out my argument, there is gaslight more brilliant than waxlight, and cheaper than the tallow dip. Electroplating and photography bring the finest models and the most truthful landscapes within the reach, if not of the laborer, at least of the artisan. While, on the other hard, but little advancement is to be found in those things which belong exclusively to the rich. Marble must still, as two thousand years ago, be the material which, so to speak, encrusts the breathing statue. Oil and canvas still supply the material elements of our finest paintings. Pearls have not diminished in value or improved in lustre since Cleopatra dissolved them in the wine-cups of her guests to show the extravagance of her magnificence. Science has revealed to us the analysis of the diamond, but art has not yet discovered the synthesis of this precious baubble. So that the ruby and the diamond, the sapphire and the emerald, still continue as untractable and as unchanged, as brilliant and as costly, as when they constituted, in the vision of St. John, the foundations of that new and holy city which had no need of sun or moon, and neither light nor temple were there. This is, indeed, a very remarkable and striking characteristic of nearly all our great modern discoveries, that they tend to create or to cheapen, if already in existence, those things which improve the condition or tend to promote the welfare of the masses of mankind.

Exclusiveness Rebuked.—In direct antagonism to this pervading principle of modern discovery—the benefit of the masses, to which have just now directed your attention—is a custom which has grown up quite recently, and which would not have become a custom had the practice not been abetted by wealthy amateurs and selfish collectors. It is the most signal instance of mod. •ern Vandalism on record, and deserving of your deepest reprobation. I am referring to the barbarous practice of plate destroying to enhance the value of the impressions already taken. The wealthy collector is not satisfied with his proof impression before letters, unless he is assured that his poorer neigbor shall never enjoy even a ten thousandth impression of it. No humble Englishman is to be permitted to point out to his eager children how here an uncle fell on the plain of Balaclava, or how there a brother died for England on the heights of Inkerman, lest forsooth some retired pawnbroker should be shocked with the intelligence that some mechanic or other low person in the village had an engraving pinned up against the wall, just the very ditto of the one in the gilt frame hung up in the drawing-room. Now, what should we say if a few wealthy book collectors had proposed to enter into an agreement with our great historian that no second edition of his great work should be published, and only a limited number of the first, so that Macaulay's “ IIistory of England” might be shown to the curious behind a screen or in a glass case ? Such a proposal would kindle an universal indignation, yet how does it differ in principle from the case of Vandalism I have brought under your notice? Of the genuine aristocrary of this country, I will say they exhibit but little of that contemptible feeling. Their galleries are thrown open or accessible to the public, they freely lend their most valuable pictures for exhibitions, as just now in Manchester; they allow them willingly to be copied. How often do we see a like churlish feeling exemplified, when some old castle or baronial mansion, approached through huge branching oaks, those grand old trees, through shady dells and living walls of verdure, passes into the hands of some retired stock-broker or other millionaire ? The crumbling fence or ragged hedge, which beyond man's memory let the poor wayfarer, or the tired traveler, or the sketching tourist, contemplate God's beauties in the calm and quiet scene spread out before him, soon gives place to the snug brick wall, bristling with broken glass, and threatening notices to all would be trespassers.

Efficacy as a Motive Power of Competitive Examination. It is a signal test of the reality and rapidity of our progress, and the remark is due to Dugald Stewart, that “the discoveries which in one age were confined to the studious and enlightened few, become in the next the creed of the learned, and in the third form part of the elementary principles of education. Among those who enjoy the advantages of early instruction, some of the most remote and wonderful conclusions of human reason are, even in infancy as completely familiarized to the mind as the most obvious phenomena which the material world exhibits to their senses." It is, therefore, your duty to cultivate by every means in your power that love of knowledge, which is inherent in the human breast, though but too often chilled by the allurements of pleasure and indolence; you must, therefore, rouse that spirit of perseverance, energy and self-reliance, to come to your aid. To encourage the development of these moral qualities I know no means so effectual as competitive examination, now become so general,

[ocr errors]

and now being carried into effect by the Society of Arts, for the benefit of the large number of mechanics' institutions and schools in union with it. I need not here enter into the details of this plan, which must be familiar to most of you, and is accessible to all. It was only this morning I read a review in The Times of Mr. Meadow's work on China. That gentleman, whom the Reviewer admits to be qualified above all his predecessors to pronounce a just opinion on China, asserts it as his conviction that this stability, peace, and prosperity of that immense region, with its 300 millions of inhabitants, is due to the system of competitive examinations. Mr. Meadows maintains that “in every case the institution of public service examinations, which have long been strictly competitive, is the cause of the continued duration of the Chinese nation; it is that which preserves the other causes and gives efficacy to their operation. By it all parents throughout the country who can compass the means are induced to impart to their sons an intimate knowledge of the literature which contains the three doctrines above cited, together with many others conducive to a high mental cultivation. By it all the ability of the country is enlisted on the side of that government which takes care to preserve its purity. By it, with its impartiality, the poorest man in the country is constrained to say that if his lot in life is a low one, it is so in virtue of the “will of heaven," and that no unjust barriers created by his fellow men prevent him from elevating himself. In consequence of its neglect or corruption, if prolonged, the able men of the country are spurred by their natural and honorable ambition to the overthrow of the, — in their eyes, and in the eyes of the nation-guilty rulers. A new dynasty is then established, which consolidates its power by restoring the institution in integrity and purity; and all the legislative and executive powers are again placed in the hands of the Heen-nang, the wise and able, who—the ablest men being always the best-rule the country, not only with great soundness of judgment, but with much of that “righteousness and benevolence" which is dictated as well by their own moral nature as by the old and venerated rules of national polity. Then follows one of those long periods which are marked in Chinese history by the reign of justice, peace, content, cheerful industry, and general prosperity, and a glorious succession of which has made the Chinese people not only the oldest, but so vastly the largest, of all the nations.

Meaning of Cram as Applied to University Examinations. Whatever force may be in the objection against cram, as derived from the practices of universities, it can not affect the examinations of the Society of Arts. What is the accepted meaning of the word cram? Why cram means this. When a limited number of examiners, whose habits are indolent, and whose knowledge is stationary, continue for years off and on, to examine in the same subjects, a sort of family likeness is found to grow up in their questions, it is discovered that the examiners have favorite text-books, that they have a fancy for certain points of view, that they are great sticklers for certain forms of notation, which very few care about but themselves, that they have pet questions as posers, that some dislike finery in dress, or vise versa. Now, acute men, taking advantage of these peculiarities and idiosyncracies, make themselves acquainted with the grooves in which the examiners run; they map out the field of subjects intersected by these educational railroads, and they sell the information thus laboriously acquired to those who will pay them for it. I have heard of one gentleman in this much maligned occupation who applied the doctrine of chances and the theory of probabilities with much show of mathematical reasoning and man


ipulation of x's and y's to prove that, if Mr. A. examined, the odds were fifty to one he would ask a particular question about the binomial theorem, and thirty to one that, if Mr. B. examined, he would ask a pet question of his in logar. ithms. But who would take the trouble to trace the bias of an examiner of the Society of Arts, or who is there to pay for such a detective-like proceeding? But it has been said, men who are well up in subjects often pass a poor examination in them, and are outstripped by others whose knowledge in the same subjects is of a very meagre kind. But is not one of the principal objects of the examination scheme to bring out, not merely the acquisitions made-to test not alone the intellectual capacity—but presence of mind, coolness, sagacity, and quickness in seizing the point of the questions put by the examiner.

How may Education be Promoted ?—On this question we shall find as many varieties of opinion as there are different shades of the same color. One man is for the laissez faire, the let alone principle; another says, let the State take the whole matter into its own hands, let it catch the truants, shut them up between stone walls, and pour learning like physic down their throats. One man says, let us have a national tax for education. Oh no, says a second, I am for a local rate. I am opposed to both your plans, cried a third; I am all for voluntary contributions. Away with centralization, exclaims one man, it is Prussian and despotic. Down with local management, cries his adversary, it is corrupt and fattens nests of jobbers. One man shouts for secular instruction, another will have nothing but purely religious teaching, while a third would at. tempt to combine them both. One man admits Dissenters openly to church schools, another would let them in by the back door, while a third would ex. clude them altogether. So on I might continue to raise a saddened smile or provoke indignant laughter. Now, then, as there are so many opinions on this well ventilated, certainly not winnowed question, for it contains plenty of chaft, I can not much be blamed if I, too, like Diogenes, proceed to roll my tub. Well, then, my view is this. We shall never radically improve education until we create a demand for it. I am convinced that the relation of supply to demand holds as strictly in this case as in that of iron or coal. This is the great principle to establish. Once let it be widely known and clearly understood that a new order of things had arisen—that, however it may have been heretofore, men will be promoted for their industry and talent, instead of by personal favor, or through family influence—do this and immediately two distinct consequences will follow. You will have employments more economically, because better filled than formerly; but far more than this will be the result. Education will receive an impetus which could be given it in no other way. I have no doubt whatever on my mind that within the last two years the government has done far more to promote and improve the education of the middle classes of this country, and to stimulate their energies by throwing open the appointments in the civil service of the East India Company to unrestricted competition, by es. tablishing examinations for official situations, than if they had founded fifty colleges in different parts of the country, and endowed 500 professorships in them. The means of knowledge and facilities for learning are not difficult to obtain in this country. Everybody you meet is willing to give the struggling student a helping hand. What we lack is the strong propelling motive to indefatigable effort. Make education a necessary of life, and not merely a luxury, and depend upon it men will procure it, come by it how they may. Create the demand and the supply is sure to follow. Whether England shall elevate the


[ocr errors]

tone of its education, or raise the standard of its instruction, is not a question for a government to decide ; it does not depend on the Lords, it does not rest with the Commons; it is a question entirely within the control of the people themselves. Let the employers of labor promote only the educated and the industrious, and an ample supply of the educated and industrious will be forthcoming. Let them do this, and then urge the government to follow their example. What can be more hypocritical or contemptible than for a man to make a speech, a flaming speech perhaps, on the platform of some education meeting, abuse the government, censure the Committee of Council, hold up the finger of warning to the church, and then go home and bestow any bit of patronage or office in his gift on the idle or worthless, on the mere ground of interest or acquaintance?

Social Standing of the Teacher.—The value of the article in which the teacher deals, and the estimation in which he is held, will in a great measure determine his social standing. Where education is but lightly valued, its professors are but little esteemed. Where, as in the universities, instruction in cer. tain branches of knowledge may lead to honor or to social position, the teacher there may take a higher grade. Accordingly, we find that divinity, law, and medicine are called specially the learned professions, because the subjects about which they are occupied are some of the highest and most important which concern man either in his future or his present state. Accordingly, wherever education is highly valued, the office of the educator stands high. In ignorant and barbarous communities he is either not found at all, or he is placed very. near the bottom of the social scale. In ancient Greece, where philosophy was the highest and noblest subject of human thought, statesmen and generals were its lecturers. In ancient Rome where philosophy was despised, its teachers were slaves. The conclusion I come to, therefore, is this, that the social standing of the teacher can only be advanced by enhancing the value of the article he trades in. When pupils shall flock in crowds after the teacher of knowledge, praying for admission to his lectures, he will take a very different position from that he now fills. At present Mr. Squeers is only too often the type of the schoolmaster in remote districts, and this brings me back again by another train of thought to the principle I set out with—that it is only by some such testing of results as I advocate, that the honorable profession of teacher can be purged of such men. The State can not interfere with them—they could refuse admission to government or any other inspectors. Parents or pupils are no judges of a schoolmaster's qualifications. It is only through some such testing tribunal as I advocate that the incompetency of such men could be detected and exposed through the proved ignorance of their pupils. The social position, then, of the schoolmaster can only be raised by elevating the educational platform on which he stands.

Value of Mental Labor.-Speaking of mental labor, Mr. Bagley of Manchester, in his lecture on the "Labor of Life," says: " With the progress and increase of society, the number whose labor consists of mental rather than of physical exertion becomes more conspicuous. The pursuits of men being governed by the law of supply and demand, professions, as well as trade and commerce, are called into existence to suit the exigencies of the age. Professional men, consisting of medical practitioners, lawyers, clergymen, engineers, architects, and men of science, and of those upon whom the governing power of a country devolves, are as requisite for the good of the common wealas are those

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »