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 are found to dislike finery in dress, or vice 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 of this much maligned occupation who applied the doctrine of chances and the theory of probabilities with much show of mathematical reasoning and manipulation 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 own in logarithms. 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 intellectual capacity—but presence of mind, coolness, sagacity, and quickness in seizing the point of the question put by the examiner? These moral qualities, at least as regards the business of life, are not inferior in value to intellectual power. And, with regard to the last objection, it seems to be founded on some kind of a vague notion of distributive justice, that if one man is endowed with high intellectual qualities, it is only fair that his neighbour, who is confessedly an intensely stupid man, should get all the moral ones.

We might just as well argue that a man of genius must be of diminutive stature, of mean presence, or of feeble constitution. But the Almighty does not dispense the gifts of mind or body by measure; more frequently the rule seems to be that to him that hath shall be given more abundantly. This plea, then, for the higher moral constitution of the stupid falls to the ground, ignored as it is by all experi

It would be very strange were it otherwise, for, as the Council of the Society of Arts very justly observe in the


notice of their Public Registry: “ a young man who must “ necessarily have devoted to study a large portion of the “ time at his disposal, often very scant, can scarcely have had “ much leisure for idle pursuits or vicious indulgences.”

Having at considerable length brought under your notice the advantages of education, I now come to the question, how may education most effectually be promoted? And on this question we shall find as many varieties of opinion as there are different shades of the same colour. 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 four 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, cries 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 attempt 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 exclude 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 well-winnowed question, for it contains plenty of chaff, I cannot 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 has arisen ---that, however it may have been heretofore, men will be promoted for their industry and talent, instead of by personal favour, 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 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, and by establishing examinations for official situations, than if they had founded fifty colleges in different parts of the country, and endowed five hundred professorships in them. Means of acquiring 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 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 labour 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 at 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 ?

My arguments do not touch the case of the very poor, for whom the public is quite as much bound, under a common sense view of the case, to provide common learning, as it is to find common food, or common clothing. If we admit the truth of principles long acted upon in this country, the question of public education needs no discussion to enable us to find its true solution. Some people talk a great deal about the state—they are afraid of the power of the state, they dread the influence of the state, they warn their neighbours against the encroaching despotism of the state. I believe the old

Whig formula is gone somewhat out of fashion, " The power “ of the crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be “ diminished.” Now, people who speak of the state in this way seem to talk as if the state were some foreign mysterious power, incessantly striving to bring us all under its yokesome foreign despotism, whose insidious encroachments on our liberties we ought ever to be on the watch against. Apprehensions such as these may have been very natural and wellfounded in the reigns of Charles I. or James II., but now they are wholly groundless. So true it is that words and names—mere sounds—are indestructible, while the solid material things they represent have ages ago passed away. Where is the cross at Charing? or the knights templars of the Temple? or the convent which stood in Covent-garden ? What is the state? The state is the government. What is the government? The creature of the House of Commons. What is the House of Commons ? The creation of the people. Thus the voice of the state is the intensified voice of the people. We have no government in the proper sense of the word; that is, a body which originates measures on its own responsibility, and is prepared to stand or fall by them.

We have an administration prepared to embody into laws the clearly expressed will of the people. Therefore, measures must be ventilated, as the phrase goes, before they can with any prospect of success be introduced into the House of Commons, and there they must pass through many stages of probation and trial before they are finally taken up by the government of the day and enshrined in the statute book. Hence in this country the necessity for agitation and the use of discussion. But I will not pursue this subject further.

I will conclude these lengthened observations by showing how this question of supply and demand in education affects the social standing of the educator. Now 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 certain branches of knowledge may lead to honour 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. Consequently, 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 withthat it is only by some such testing of results as I advocate that the honourable profession of teacher can be purged of

The state cannot interfere with them—they would refuse admission to Government or to any other inspectors. Parents of pupils are no judges of a schoolmaster's qualifications. It is only through some such testing tribunal as I advocate that the incompetency of men of this stamp 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. The needs of society require that, while some are engaged in promoting its welfare by improving themselves, others must devote their time to training the young to follow in the same course. We are compelled here as elsewhere to apply the great principle of the division of labour, on whose development the advancement of society mainly depends. There is a very admirable lecture, by Mr. Bazley, of Manchester, on the “ Labour of Life.” It has recently been published in a cheap form. I cannot do better than direct your attention to it. Speaking of mental labour, he says :“ With the progress and increase of society the number of “ those whose labour consists of mental rather than of physical « exertion becomes more conspicuous. The pursuits of men

such men.

« ElőzőTovább »