« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION (CONTINUED).
II. TO SOCIETY.
"Whether a wise state hath any interest nearer heart than the education of youth."-BERKELEY's Querist.
"When the clouds of ignorance are dispelled by the radiance of knowledge, power trembles, but the authority of law remains immovable."-BECCARIA.
"Almost all the calamities of man, except the physical evils which are inherent in his nature, are in a great measure to be imputed to erroneous views of religion or bad systems of government, and these cannot be coexistent for any considerable time with an extensive diffusion of knowledge. Either the freedom of intelligence will destroy the government, or the government will destroy it. Either it will extirpate superstition and enthusiasm, or they will contaminate its purity and prostrate its usefulness. Knowledge is the cause as well as the effect of good government."-DE WITT CLINTON.
SOCIETY may be regarded as a partnership. It is an ex tended system of co-operation, in which every individual has a part to perform, and from which, in return for his efforts, each individual receives a greater amount of benefit than he could have attained, had he relied only on his own unaided and solitary exertions. It is the object of civilization or social progress, to increase these advantages, or, in other words, to enable individuals to obtain from society, with a given amount of effort, a greater and greater amount of resulting benefit. Now, in regard to limited partnerships, which include but a small number of persons, nothing is more evident than that their success, and the success, of course, of each individual member, will be in exact proportion to the sagacity, integrity, and diligence with which each applies himself to his proper duties. If all the partners are ignorant, idle, and unprincipled, bankruptcy and
ruin must be the speedy result. If this be the character of some only of the firm, even then, hardly any amount of effort and skill on the part of the remainder will prevent great losses; whereas, should all devote themselves to business with singleness of purpose, and with intelligence and activity, the result must be great prosperity. The application of these principles to the subject under consideration is obvious.
Let us consider society, in the first place, as a material partnership, or, in other words, as an association established merely for the production and accumulation of wealth. It is a truth often overlooked, but yet most unquestionable as well as most important, that the richest capitalist and the poorest labourer are joint proprietors in that great co-operative firm, through which, God ordains that man shall procure most of his blessings. A poor emigrant, who has just reached our shores, with no other means than his health and strong sinews, and who has skill but just sufficient to enable him to handle a pickaxe and shovel, is set at work in excavating a canal or grading a railroad. He knows nothing of the wealthy proprietor in New-York, who lives in luxury, and who wields his tens and hundreds of thousands in daily operations on 'change, and that proprietor knows still less of him. Yet it is no less true that they are partners—joint owners and managers of stock, in the same great company. Every dollar that the capitalist acquires by fair and legiti mate business, goes to swell the facilities of the labourer, in getting employment, and in getting liberal remuneration for his services. It is by him, and others like him, that capital is furnished, not only to construct public improvements, but to carry forward private undertakings of a useful and productive character. On the other hand, every blow which the labourer strikes, tends to enrich the capitalist. As he deepens and widens the canal, or grades the railroad,
he contributes to cheapen and to accelerate the transit of those commodities, in which the capitalist deals, thus enabling him to extend his operations, and to increase his profits. And these are but examples. Take any two men, however remote from each other, within the limits of the state or of the Union, and no matter how dissimilar their pursuits, nor how unequal their apparent positions, they are still, if engaged in lawful callings, partners, co-operating for their mutual benefit, and for the common benefit of all their associates, or, in other words, of all their fellow-citizens. Is it not, then, a matter of unspeakable importance, that each one should be qualified to perform his part, in the most efficient and useful manner?
After what we have advanced in previous sections, and especially in the last, it can hardly be necessary to insist that education does contribute most powerfully to render men more efficient both as producers and preservers of property. If properly conducted, it renders them, in the first place, more trustworthy, and thus multiplies the ways, in which they can be employed with profit to themselves, and with advantage to the community. In the second place, a labourer, whose mind has been disciplined by culture, works more steadily and cheerfully, and, therefore, more productively, than one who, when a child, was left to grovel in ignorance and idleness. In the third place, such a labourer, having both knowledge and habitual activity of mind, is fruitful in expedients to render his exertions more diversified and profitable* And while, in these several ways, education contributes to swell the aggregate of values, pro
* Since I wrote this chapter, I have read, with great interest, the last report of the Hon. Mr. Mann, as secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education. During the last year he directed his attention to the relative productiveness of the labour of the uneducated, and of those who have had the advantages of a good commonschool education; and he gives the following as the substance of
duced in a community in any given time; it also secures, in the fourth place,* that these values, instead of being
the answers which he has obtained from a number of the most intelligent manufacturers and business men of New-England. "The result of the investigation is a most astonishing superiority in productive power on the part of the educated over the uneducated labourer. The hand is found to be another hand when guided by an intelligent mind. Processes are performed, not only more rapidly, but better, when faculties which have been cultivated in early life furnish their assistance. Individuals who, without the aid of knowledge, would have been condemned to perpetual inferiority of condition, and subjected to all the evils of want and poverty, rise to competence and independence by the uplifting power of education. In great establishments, and among large bodies of labouring men, where all services are rated according to their pecuniary value; where there are no extrinsic circumstances to bind a man down to a fixed condition, after he has shown a capacity to rise above it; where, indeed, men pass by each other, ascending or descending, in their grades of labour, just as easily and certainly as particles of water of different degrees of temperature glide by each other, there is it found as an almost invariable fact, other things being equal, that those who have been blessed with a good common-school education rise to a higher and higher point in the kinds of labour performed, and also in the rate of wages paid, while the ignorant sink, like dregs, and are always found at the bottom."
*From the accounts which pass through my hands," says M. Escher, "I invariably find that the best educated of our work-people manage to live in the most respectable manner at the least expense, or make their money go the farthest in obtaining comforts. This applies equally to the work-people of all nations that have come under my observations; the Saxons, and the Dutch, and the Swiss, being, however, decidedly the most saving, without stinting themselves in their comforts or failing in general respectability. With regard to the English, I may say, that the educated workmen are the only ones who save money out of their very large wages. By education, I may say, that I, throughout, mean not merely instruction in the art of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but better general mental development; the acquisition of better tastes, of mental amusements and enjoyments, which are cheaper, while they are more refined. The most educated of our British workmen is a
wasted through improvidence and vice, shall be employed as instruments of reproduction, and thus become permanent sources of welfare and happiness. Nor ought we to omit, in this brief enumeration of the material advantages of education to society, that it tends both to multiply and to refine our artificial wants; thus stimulating us, on one hand, to greater exertion in order to satisfy these wants, and shielding us, on the other, from those coarse temptations which tend to make men idlers and sots.
Here is a truth which seems all but self-evident, and yet it is one, grievously neglected in the speculations of political economists, and in the measures of practical statesmen. Writers on Political Economy dwell much, on the importance of enlisting science in the service of industry; but it is science confined for the most part to physics, and to be studied by the proprietor or superintendent, rather than by the operative. So statesmen, especially in older countries, bestow much time, and invent many fruitless expedients, in order to improve the condition of the working classes, at the very time that the intellectual and moral condition of those classes renders improvement next to impossible.
Scotch engineer, a single man, who has a salary of 31. a week, or 150l. a year, of which he spends about the half; he lives in very respectable lodgings; he is always well-dressed; he frequents reading-rooms; he subscribes to a circulating library; purchases mathematical instruments, studies German, and has every rational enjoyment. We have an English workman, a single man, of the same standing, and who has the same wages, also a very orderly and sober person; but, as his education does not open to him the resources of mental enjoyment, he spends his evenings and Sundays in wine-houses, because he cannot find other sources of amusement which presuppose a better education, and he spends his whole pay, or one half more than the other. The extra expenditure of the workman of lower condition, of 751. a year, arises entirely, as far as I can judge, from the inferior arrangement, and the comparatively higher cost of the more sensual enjoyment in the wine-house."- Report of Poor-Law Commissioners.