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Letters," and its two-hours-a-week lecturer on the history of Christianity! A full corps of the best men that can be found should be secured, to teach the humanities and the diFinity demanded by the time. First of all, our young men and women must be taught the realities of religion. An accomplished man has been hired to read lessons in Christian history two hours in the week, when he should have been asked to devote himself entirely to the exegesis of those realities of revelation in the reason and conscience of man, of the interpretation of which he might have been so great a master. The future should make amends for the past. The masters of spiritual experience must attempt, in our schools, their best work. Our students must be stimulated to think, and instructed in the methods of sound thought. Logic and philosophy must be no more lost arts among us. All the fields of inquiry must be faithfully worked, and all the best results of honest study presented in our schools. Especially must the history of humanity, and the whole literature of the race, be opened to the inquirer, to disclose all the signs and wonders of God present with man. The accredited traditions of our churches may lose something, many pious conceits may perish, theology may cease to be a thing apart from the reason and conscience of man; but the Christian ministry will make an immense gain, and will become that which the truest spirit of our time, all rational and humane as it is, imperatively demands.
Art. VIII. — THE MASSACHUSETTS BOARD OF STATE
CHARITIES, AND THE WESTBOROUGH REFORM SCHOOL.
Reports of the Board of State Charities, together with the Secretary's
Reports, for the years 1865, 1866, 1867. Boston: Wright & Potter.
MASSACHUSETTS is held, with some justice, to have been a pioneer State in many of the ideas and methods that are shaping our higher American civilization. Nevertheless, in
several very important steps, she has only followed where others have led the way. In securing the legal rights of women, for example, Rhode Island and several other States were a few years in advance. The present law of evidence is due, more than to any other, to the influence of Judge Appleton, the present enlightened chief justice of Maine, in bringing about important alterations in the statutes of his own State, afterwards adopted here. Again, the position which Massachusetts has taken, and still holds, in the vexed question of prohibitory legislation respecting the sale and use of intoxicating drinks, is the position taken first in the famous “ Maine Law” of 1851. And, in the organization of a Board of Public Charities, it is the example set in the great State of New York that (with some modifications) Massachusetts is content to follow.
The Board of Education and the Board of State Charities are the finest examples we have of that ideal aim, in the legislation of a true republic, which makes it the responsible guardian of the higher interests of its citizens. They make a province of legislation which is held in some doubt by such thinkers as Mr. Mill, and definitely excluded by Herbert Spencer; yet one, perhaps, on which the pride, hope, and faith of our people have staked more than on any other. They embody some of the very noblest traditions of New England. They are the interpretation, in our century, of those devout and lofty purposes of a Christian commonwealth, which made the inspiration of the Pilgrim colony, and were at the very heart of English Puritanism. If the scheme of government which they imply — wise, enlightened, humane, caring for every moral as well as material interest of the State - could be perfectly carried out, they would make the nearest approach ever reached, or we may even say attempted, to the true ideal of a Church which should be the soul, as the political organism is the body, of the republic. In actual practice, on the other hand, this work of conscience and humanity, when undertaken by the State, has to contend with many of the difficulties which in this century make a State Church an impossibility, or else a mockery; and we have to acknowledge, that our experience hitherto has convinced some of its most earnest advocates and helpers, that it is a work which the State is incompetent to do, and that it must be left, after all, to the inspiration of single hearts and the aid of private hands.
It is not easy to imagine a group of topics more full of interest to every thoughtful and imaginative mind, than those confided to the supervision of the Board of State Charities. There is, first, the administration of the entire system of penal law, in State prisons, penitentiaries, and jails, – a matter on which more of moral genius and thoughtful humanity has been spent, since the time of Howard, than perhaps on any other, and to results, perhaps, more doubtful and perplexed than any other; a matter in which science, humanity, and public safety seem at length approaching one another, by slow and painful steps. There is, next, the class of institutions whose aim is not punishment, but restraint and reform, to save to the State the frightful waste of moral life, and rescue the germs of a useful and honest manhood out of the corruption of streets and the companionship of prisons; a work in which the way has been led by some of the purest philanthropy and most devoted lives of modern times. There is, again, the invasion of foreign pauperism to be met at the threshold, and shelter to be found for those wretched multitudes whom a common humanity will not suffer to perish at our doors; together with nurture and attendance for those miserable children of poverty and vice, sickly, doomed often to premature death for their parents' sin, whom the State must receive in its charitable arms, as a nursing mother, substituting Christian tenderness for the world's contempt. There is, again, that group of public charities — necessarily public, because too responsible to be left altogether to private hands — which exhibits the miracles of modern science and humanity, in the treatment of the insane, the training of idiots, the education of the blind and deaf and dumb. To these various State charities, besides the cost of the judiciary and the penal system, Massachusetts devoted half a million of dollars in the year 1864, the year of the last Presidential election, — the year which set on foot the severest and decisive campaigns of the war of the rebellion. And it is a
noble testimony which the Board are enabled to give, in their Report covering that year,
“ that although in the midst of civil war, with entire prostration of some branches of business, and great fluctuations in others, with high prices of all kinds of provisions, yet the number asking charity from the State during the year has been less than in former years; and that the same was true as to the number dependent on the State at the close of the year. It is also a most gratifying fact, that, notwithstanding the greatly increased expenditures of the State in consequence of the war, not a single object of charity has been forgotten ; all the usual appropriations have been made, and even new calls have met with a ready and cheerful response.” — Report for 1865, p. xliv.
It is to the thoughtful and vigilant administration of Gov. ernor Andrew, so decisive as to the acts and destinies of Massachusetts during the civil war, that the State owes the policy of combining the group of penal and charitable institutions just spoken of, under the supervision of a single Board. Side by side with the Board of Education, it is the most definite and emphatic announcement of the motive of its public policy, that the ancient Commonwealth has ever made, unless in the abortive effort to establish a qualified state-church system under the famous “ Third Article of the Bill of Rights.” And, in judging of its success, it is but just to remember how very wide and difficult is the field in which it has to operate; and how it must encounter, not only all the vexed questions of social science, but a great mass of conflicting interests, prejudices, convictions, both moral and religious, varieties in method and character, jealousies of administration, and animosities of sect. In fact, it is easiest to regard it, just now, less as a department or arm of State administration, than as an organized system for the experimental study of social science itself, in a grand and practical way. And, in its earlier years at least, it would seem even more important that it should be given in charge to competent scientific students of the great social facts it deals with, for the sake of more intelligent future action, than that it should exhibit any very striking, immediate, practical results.
In an organization of this kind, it is understood that the general policy and the working energy of the Board rest mainly with the Secretary, the only officer of it who receives a full salary, and is supposed to devote all his faculties to its service. Governor Andrew's sagacity, discernment, and courage in the matter of appointments, both military and civil, were well proved throughout his administration ; and to them the State owes the choice of the present Secretary. We consider the choice, on the whole, fortunate and wise. Mr. Sanborn is a young man, with a great deal to learn, and a great willing. ness to learn it; of high and cultivated, but not particularly practical, intelligence; of liberal, perhaps we may say radical, sympathiess with the good fortune of possessing the interest and confidence of many of the stanchest friends of humanity; with a positiveness of opinion that is sometimes mistaken for conceit, and a style of criticism that sometimes gives just personal offence; a careful and diligent student of the methods of discipline, charity, and instruction now on trial in the world ; a very intelligent expounder of what may fairly be considered to be established in the maxims of social science, or proved as the result of careful experiment. In particular, his reports and other public papers have already been of real service, in helping to make known the “ Irish System” of prison discipline, — which may be considered as the nearest approach yet made to the scientific solution of a moral problem of extreme practical difficulty, - and the recent most interesting experiments in the education of deaf mutes. What may possibly be rash and partial in the judgments he is compelled to register so hastily, in annual reports stretched to cover 60 wide a field, is very sure to be chastened and corrected in time, by the exceedingly practical nature of the topics he must treat. Certainly, there could not be a sterner test, in the field of a man's labors, whether or not he enters on it with convictions and ideas. And it is not at all to Mr. Sanborn's discredit, as a student of social facts and needs, that he grapples first of all with the very plain, prosaic, practical, fundamental question of economy in finance ; though, as we shall see, the prominence he has given it has lent some shadow of excuse to those who overlook a higher sort of economy, and even made