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made the victims of the many vices that beset the path of young men at their first outset in life.
For the future education of this class, Mechanics’ Institutes are required as we have already stated : no inatter how eficiently an Evening School may be conducted, they will not attend, knowing as they do, that the course of instruction is merely elementary.-In fact, they would look upon a properly managed Mechanics Institute in the same light, as a youth in our private schools look upon a University. The very fact of being a member of such an Institute, would have a mighty influence upon them, and especially if they know it is presided over by those free from sectarian bigotry, and whose only object is to raise their moral and intellectual character. We agree with the Rev. Dr. Hook, vicar of Leeds, who wisely says :
“ In short, we want for the working classes institutions similar to those which the more opulent, when they quit school, find prepared for them in our Universities. It is astonishing how soon the mind runs to seed, and how quickly, when the waters cease to rise, the well becomes hard and dry. I make no doubt but that there are many who have felt mortification, as I have done, at finding, after the lapse of ten or fifteen years, how some of those children who were at one time the ornament of our schools, have, for want of continued mental cultivation, become as void of intelligence as their worst educated associates. If it is worth while to give an education, it is worth while to take care that the education given is not thrown away. If it is our duty to instruct the children of the working classes, it is equally our duty to afford to adults the means of reaping the advantages of our past labour and youthful industry. The truth of this has been perceived, and attempts have been made to fill up the void of which the complaint is not unfrequent, but the attempt has not been made on a scale commensurate to the requirements of the case. Or if the institutions for adult education at present in existence, be sufficient in number and magnitude for the present wants of the people, the quality of the education provided is lamentably deficient, and the deficiency becomes daily more apparent as the quality of education in our primary schools under trained and certificated masters becomes more effective. To meet the requirements of the case the Mechanics' Institutes were first in the field. This honor they may claim, and it should willingly be assigned to them.” *
To prove the correctness of what is just stated, let us take, for example, a boy who has graduated from class to class in any Public School, say for instance the Model National School of Marlborough-street, till he has reached the highest class, and not
". Meliora" Ist Series, p. 25,
only that, but has distinguished himself so much in that class as to merit an appointment as monitor. He continues to graduate in the rank of monitor, until he becomes Head Monitor or Head Pupil Teacher in the School. lle is then recalled from school by his parents, apprenticed to some Mechanic, or placed in an office or counting-house. Such a boy desires to ad. vance himself in those branches that apply to the business in which he is now engaged. The spirit of emulation has not as yet passed away, his desire to distinguish himself among men is now his object, to give him an opportunity of doing so is a public duty. All we can do is to offer advantages, which if availed of will stimulate the mind to enquiry, and point out the sources of more minute and accurate knowledge. Let us do what we can to induce him to devote those hours that might be passed in indolence and folly, in attaining a higher end than the mere amusement of the passing hour. It has been said by a wise and good man, “It is our high and holy mission to serve mankind." This we can best do by educating them, for, by the diffusion of knowledge, morality is secured, liberty protected, and the vices avoided which ignorance and idleness engender,
Before we have done with the case we have now before us, we regret to write that frequently have we known many of the most intellectual and promising pupils of our schools, when they left to pursue the callings for which they were severally destined, become the associate of companions whose minds were evil and designing, whose only pleasure was vice, whose haunts, when toil permitting, the public house or gin shop. Example had its effect—the once promising and talented pupil became the prematurely old and dissipated man.
What is here mentioned has but too frequently come under our notice, and this it is that has induced us to take up the subject of Mechanics' Institutes, feeling fully convinced that, to the vant of such is mainly attributable many of the miseries of the working poor. For had we proper educational institutės awaiting the youths when their school instruction ends, and they begin to follow their various pursuits in life, doubtless many whose leisure hours are spent worthlessly, if not crimiiially, would be found devoting tliese hours to mental culture and pursuing those studies congenial to their faculties. To those who have not received an elementary education, their wants can be supplied by Evening Schools; and for those poor persons should those schools be supported, and that too with
no meagre hand, if we desire to remove the thick veil of ignorance from the minds of our working men and enable them to appreciate that liberty which the uneducated can never fully value.
We have described the class of pupils that will not atteud Evening Schools, and in doing this, we have stated what appears to us the main cause of their absence. By what we have asserted, it cannot fail to strike the minds of a thinking public, that a great deficiency exists in the means that have, up to this, been adopted to educate the working poor of this country. And it must be acknowledged by those who really think on the subject, that the opening of Mechanics’ Institutes is the only way in which this defect can be remedied. But before we examine what the character of these institutions should be, and how they should be conducted, it may be well to anticipate, the question that we regret so often to hear asked by men whom we should suppose would espouse and advocate the cause of the education of the Working Classes; the question we allude to is,"What use is it for the Working Man to trouble himself about education, more than to know how to read and write ?” This question has been often put, but let us ask by whom. Is it not by those whose ideas and faculties of mind extend to the mere ability to add up a column of Pounds, Shillings and Pence? whose minds from morning till night are engrossed with the mercenary thought of wealth, who make riches their god, and to accumulate them, will, through their thirst of cupidity and love of gain, exact the sweat of the poor man's brow with the same eagerness and anxiety as the astute and mercenary Jew will sweat the golden coin to satiate his thirst for the precious metals. Again we hear the same question put by those whose position in society should assure us that they would aid and abet in every way to promote the culture of the mind among the laboring poor,but such, we regret to write, is not the case; they become jealous that those whom they call plebeians should advance theinselves, lest in a few years, by perseverance and mental enterprize, they aspire to, and attain a position for which their own qualification, render them unfit. Doctor Whately, in alluding to this class, thus writes" Some, again, there are, of the higher classes in birth and station), who-are jealous of the classes below them treading on their heels, by becoming their equals, or superiors in the literature and science, of wbich they themselves, perhaps,
possess no great share. This, again, is a feeling which no one is very likely to avow. They persuade, as far as they can, both others and themselves, that what they dread is the unwise, ill-regulated, and indiscriminate diffusion of knowledge.”—Knowing the feelings of the two classes we should rejoice to think that their influence on society is weak.-Wereit otherwise, how vain would it be for the son of the plebeian to devote his energies for years, perhaps scantily fed and thinly clothed, prosecuting his studies within the peasant's cot, or the walls of some miserable abode in one of our back and secluded streets.
We would wish to ask those who fear or deprecate the diffusion of knowledge among the poor, is it by keeping them in darkness and ignorance that they can best secure the happiness of a people, or the prosperity of a nation? Is it not by doing so superstition and bigotry are engendered, the spirit of anarchy and rebellion fostered, and religious hostility between man and man encouraged? If their object be, as we fear it is, to make the poor the instruments of the rich, to be used by them for whatever purpose they may think proper, we can understand their not considering the education of the poor necessary or advisable. But what a wretched contrast do they form, when compared with such a man as Thomas Wyse, who, showing the necessity for educating the poor thus writes--"Under the most favourable circumstances, the superior whether clergyman or proprietor, can do little with a still brutal and sluggish population. lle must begin like Oberlin with first de-brutalizing them; he must awaken the soul before he can make use of it, he must first teach and then civilize. This is true in a greater or less degree, whether we have to deal with Indian or European. It is an indispensable condition of improvement. Education thus becomes not merely a benefit to all, but an object to all of the first necessity.” The wisdom and justice of this statement need no comment. Every friend of Education must fully agree with Mr. Wyse on this point; ve may justly rank Mr. Wyse among the champions of Popular Education of whom Englaud can proudly boast. As the current of public opinion in favor of this noble project flows on, it is swelled day after day, by the opinions of those who were most adverse to the education of the poor. But we should take care, lest those who come over do more to oppose than to advocate its cause. We cannot be too vigilant on this point, for, says Archbishop Whately—“I know for a fact, that there are some persons, who deprecate the diffusion of knowledge; but yet they will give in to it, and profess to favour it, merely because they find that they must swim with the stream, because they cannot oppose it. I am continually meeting with persons who are for embarking in the vessel of education, in order that they may be able to retard its course. They are deprecators, above all things, of too great a diffusion of knowledge-too much education for the people too much knowledge for their station in life, which they say, is likely to puff them up."
These are the persons we are to guard against, and, we regret to write, they form no inconsiderable a class in point of number. But as we have already intimated, their influence and power are such that no danger is to be apprehended from them; their opponents are too powerful, the public mind has become too enlightened, the love of knowldge has taken too deep a root, even among the poorer classes, to submit to what they should when literature was the privilege of a cloistered few. No, for the plebeian now sees that he lives in an age when his education can compensate for the meanness of his birth, and his industry for his fortune. This is well engrafted upon the minds of the poorer classes, and its effect is manifesting itself day after day among them. They have learned to despise those who would shut them out froin the temples of knowledge, and prevent its diffusion among the poor. The State has, more or less, provided education for them, and in doing so, it has only done its duty, but as this duty might no doubt be neglected, we are to look upon it in the light of a favor and feel grateful. It is a wise provision, for by it we are enabled to see with Sir David Brewster that
“ There are men who denounce railways and steam boats, and even the cheap intercourse of minds, and who would willingly doom to penury, or even to gradual annihilation, the industrious nuillions whose title to existence is as good as their own. Thiese men would cheerfully step back a few centuries to feed on the flesha and clothe in the skins of the beasts of prey, and perchance to offer up their meats to idols, not less respectable than the mammon which they worship.'
Whatever may be the objections urged against the Educa. tion of the Working Classes, the bounds to which anti