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“ being governed by the law of supply and demand, pro“ fessions, 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 weal as are those who “ perform bodily and visible labour. Indeed, the labour of “ the mind exceeds, in national importance and usefulness, “ the mere drudgery of muscle and of physical force. To the “ mental services of professors of every class the inhabitants “ of the earth owe an extent of gratitude which can never “ be sufficiently acknowledged. From the ancients and their
successors, modern civilization has derived the fruits of “ both accumulated labour and wisdom. Nor is the apparent “ leisure of many of the most intellectual occupations to be
despised. Unfortunately, the ignorant do not appreciate “ mental labour, and, though the midnight student, wasting “ in power like the flickering light of his lamp, may be “ developing the hidden treasures of nature, art, or science, “ and preparing for the beneficial and active exercise of some “ new industry, his toils are often unrewarded, and, with “ Butler, the eulogy of the monumental stone becomes his “ portion, instead of the bread which he needed."
But to return, the educator labours under other disadvantages. He finds great difficulty in augmenting the stock of his intellectual acquisitions. Now this to some persons may appear very strange, but so it is. There is no man, no matter what his occupation, business, or profession, if he have any leisure at all, who is not in a more favourable position to make intellectual progress than the schoolmaster. The reason is plain. A man of business who is engaged all day in his warehouse, or superintending his workmen, or transacting commercial affairs, when he returns home in the evening finds it a positive relief to take up a book or a subject of study, because in so doing he brings into play a set of faculties which were dormant during the day. This is the reason why so many merchants and other men of business have been distinguished for their attainments in literature or science. But when the schoolmaster has finished his day's work, if he takes up a book, he calls into action only faculties already
jaded by the labours of the day. The wonder should be, therefore, that he has done so much, rather than that he should have done so little. But, however this may be, you perform a work without which society could not well hold together — you expend your energies in improving others rather than accomplishing yourselves—you have the prićeless satisfaction of your own consciences that you do the work which is given you to do, and this is a reward which finally is the greatest we can, any of us, obtain. Yours is a great work, if you will only so regard it. A holy work, if only the Spirit from above be given to enable you to consecrate it to its
“ All the means of action,
To the Young Men attending the Evening Classes at Crosby
Hall, Bishopsgate Street, London, 15th January, 1857.
I N appearing before you this evening, I have determined to
address my observations not so much to you who come here to while away an idle hour, as to those young men who are already members of, or are about to join the classes in this ancient hall. It may be, that some who attend here this evening shall hear from me, or rather from those who will address the meeting after me, advice to direct their judgment, or arguments to strengthen their resolves, or words of encouragement to uphold them in the labours they have entered upon. I wish to speak particularly to those who are entering on the race of life, weighted, it may be, with poverty or home sorrows, the ailments, perhaps, of a bed-ridden father, or the wearing grief of a widowed mother, or the growing claims of little brothers and sisters. But may it not be here as in athletic games, in which men purposely carry weights that they may throw themselves forward in the leap with the greater force and impetus. May it not be, I say, that domestic trials, the res angusta domi, but urge you the more strenuously to unwearied exertion, and supply the most urgent motives to inflexible perseverance and unbending adherence to that integrity without which no man, even in a temporal sense, can ultimately prosper.
There are doubtless many here to-night who sympathize, deeply sympathize, with those to whom I refer; and that wide-spreading, all-pervading sympathy descending from the classes above on those below is by far the most assuring aspect of the times in which we live. Only think of the Chairman of the East India Company fifty years ago presiding over a meeting for opening classes to teach clerks or artisans; or a nobleman giving lectures at a Mechanics’Institution; or of well-born,
tenderly-nurtured, highly-educated women, taking on themselves, far from their homes, the loathsome duties of common hospital nurses for common wounded men. They left the refinements and comforts of their English firesides, to brave the horrors of war, the inclemency of the climate, and the innumerable hardships incidental to the trying duty they had voluntarily and cheerfully undertaken.
I have spoken so much lately, from time to time, on this question of education, that I have left myself hardly anything new to say about it; and as all I have said has been published through the powerful and expansive agency of the press, I am precluded from adopting a course very convenient for lecturers, that of hashing up an old lecture for the entertainment of a new audience. However, as I am here, let me avail myself of the opportunity to make a few practical remarks, and to address a few words, as well of caution as of encouragement to the young men I see here before me this evening. ·
Now, in the first place, I would observe that the disadvantages you labour under are, so to speak, accidental-not inherent to your condition. They are not such as require some external power to remove. You may be hard worked, you may have to rise early and go to bed late, you may have but few holidays and but little amusement, you may have many calls and pressing claims upon 'your earnings, but you belong to no caste, you are members of nó subject race, you are fettered by no law, you are crushed by no custom, you are banned by no prejudice, you walk erect as Englishmen. The gates of the temple of knowledge stand wide open to receive you, if you have only the ability and the perseverance to climb the steep ascent on which it stands. The broad road to advancement stretches far
you, till it is lost in the horizon. A very long, rugged, and heavy road some find it to be. This, however, must be said: no artificial obstacles are thrown across it to impede you in your journey.
To you, young men, this is a great matter. You have no artificially contrived disabilities to contend against. Nay, more, it matters not whether you are native-born Cockneys, Yorkshiremen, or Welchmen, Irish or Scotch, Canadians or West Indians, every post and honour in the state--save oneis open to you, if only God will prosper your efforts. Of
what other nation on the face of the earth can this be truly said ? Thank God, you are citizens of such a country.
Now do not mistake me. Do not for a moment imagine that I expect you to join these classes with the confident expectation, that by so doing, you are all, through diligence and industry, to rise to some high social position or other on which you may have set your hearts beforehand. You must guard against this. It is no better than day-dreaming, and you are sure to be disappointed. No. Enter the classes with the hope that, under God, your diligence and industry, your energy and perseverance, shall lead you to something better than your lot at present. Leave the issues in the hands of Him who decides better for us than we can for ourselves. You are young, and the wide world is before you. Take Columbus as your example, who boldly embarked on the solitary and shoreless ocean before him, in the sure conviction that he would at length, with Providence his guide, reach some point of that unknown coast he was in quest of. He did not much care in what latitude or climate the object of his voyage should be attained.
To you who are about to join the classes in Crosby Hall, I would give this advice :-Take up those subjects for which you have a natural taste, and which are likely to be of most value to you in their application to the ordinary business of life. Thus, if you are in the office of an engineer, architect or builder, practical mathematics will be of much use to you. If you are engaged in manufacturing processes, you will find that you can make no way without a knowledge of chemistry; and the more profound your knowledge the safer and cheaper will your applications of that knowledge be. If you are engaged in commercial houses an acquaintance with foreign languages is likely to be of much use to you. A clerk who, to his other qualifications, adds a knowledge of German, or Spanish, or French, is of much more value to an employer who has business to transact in these languages, and he is paid accordingly. And here, by the way, I may observe, how much the study of modern languages is neglected in a country which has more dealings with foreign nations than any other in Europe. In our best schools, with few exceptions only, German and French are taught, and these not as essentials, but as extras, if there happens to be a vacant hour in the time