« AnteriorContinuar »
him those means of material improvement which are the interest or rent of his property in the land, so it is the business of Government to secure to him those means of intellectual and moral improvement which constitute his share in the common intellectual and moral stock.
Capital, or credit supplies him with the material element, education with the moral and intellectual. It would be worse than mockery to give him only the first.
Education is the business of Government, because only Government can be intrusted with it, and because only Government can effectually manage it.
And first, what is this Education, to which every human being is equally entitled ? It is the culture of the whole nature, the development of its full powers of growth-the perfecting of the physical the due training of the moral and intellectual—and the fitting both heart and intellect to embrace the highest aspiration and completest knowledge of the time, so far as natural organization will permit :-the purport of such culture being the raising of strong and excellent human beings to do the work of Humanity. Education is, indeed, the Present endowing the Future with all its wealth and power, that the Future may start from that vantage ground to reach the further heights of progress. To whom shall this be intrusted except to the nation's rulers, to those whom the nation has chosen as its Wisest and Most Virtuous ? Upon them, the head and heart of the Present Time (we are speaking of the good time which shall be Present, not of our own little day of Whig expediences)—upon them it devolves to rule the Present, so as may best provide for the Future. It is theirs to utter the nation's faith, to teach that faith to the young generation, which shall in its turn become the nation. Whom would you choose for this work? Whom, instead of these your voices have already declared to be your Best and Wisest ? How shall they lead the nation, if its youth are exempted from their controul ? Shall they be your rulers, and yet not rule your children? Your children! But indeed they are not yours, if that your is to mean property. You have no property in your children. They are the nation's in trust for God and the Future.
But what then becomes-'I hear some one ask,-'what becomes of individual liberty if our children are to be placed in the hands of a Government, of any, even the best government ?'
Whose individual liberty ? Yours, or your child's? What right have you to possess a human soul? To make it yours, to twist it to your bent, to cast it in
The soul of the little child is your equal,-has its own independent rights, and demands its own growth-not a growth of your dictation. What right have you to confiscate that soul to your uses, to sacrifice it upon private altar of your particular opinions ? 'Has not every man, then, the right of teaching what he believes ? Is it not his duty to propagandize his own idea of truth ? Truly so, among his equals, but not to take an unfair advantage,—which is tyrannizing. Between you and the weak and easily-impressible child rightly
your mould ?
€ Let it be borne in mind that whenever the word Government is nised in these Letters, it is the reality which is spoken of not the impudent connterfeit which now mocks and curses society. It is more than usually important to bear in mind this distinction in treating of Education, because confusion here is the rock upon which men commonly split in debating of the different merits of State-education and Voluntaryisin.
steps the protection of the State, guaranteeing to that child that he shall not be stinted to the narrow paternal pasture; but that he shall be enabled to become not merely a pride and pleasure to his father, but worthy of his nation. It is that which he has to serve.
Besides, shall the poorest-souled individual be free to inculcate his private crotchet, and the nation's Best and Wisest be prohibited from teaching that which is the generally
acknowledged truth of their time, the actual religion of Humanity ?
It may happen that the father is in advance of his time: but who shall guarantee this? Must every child take his chance ?
It may also happen that the father's tenets are far behind his time. Shall we, in virtue of our profession of Equality, Liberty, Fraternity, after abolishing the slavery of the body, allow the soul of the child to be enslaved, simply because the enslaver is the parent; or deny the child's liberty of growth because a parent would have the training of him; and rob the Future of its worker, its soldier, and its priest, because some one called a parent claims the child as his rather than God's ?
If a Government—the elect of the nation, the real priesthood of the people, their wiser voice, then indeed the 'Voice of God,' for the people is the sole interpreter of his law,—if a Government have a faith to teach, what individual out of the mass shall step between them and the child to forbid their uttering that faith in the child's ears? If the “government' is imbecile, or so buried in dirty traflic, that it has no faith, then let all true men combine, or, failing combination, let every brave man for himself do his utmost, to keep his children from being contaminated by the abominable doctrines which alone such a misgovernment could teach. But if it is your own chosen government, and has a faith ?—Where is the room for this very English jealousy of a compulsory State-education ?
* And religious education also ?' EDUCATION IS RELIGIOUS. Meaning by religion that which binds Humanity to God; that which links the ages together, making of every generation one strong and perfect link, welded into one by faith iu the necessity of harmonizing men's lives—man’s life—with the Eternal, and by the organization which such faith would insure to a nation. This is religion : the teaching of which is the highest duty, function, and object of Government. Sectarian dogmas and ceremonies are not included here. It may be left to voluntary zeal to determine with what verbal forms, with what gestures, or upon what particular occasions, such and such a congregation shall sing or pray together. That is a matter of individual liberty, with which, so loug as public deceney remains unoffended, or private right unassailed, the State has no business to meddle. The ceremonial observances of some few hours in a week may be left to the conscience of the sect, or of the individual; but the religion schich is to actuate the de iife oy the woke pzple is the proper affair of Government, if government is to be real.
There is no middle course between this organization of human life and the anarchy of our present system, an anarchy which is called liberty, but which is only the unrestrained tyranny of the stronger. How this sort of license results, private rice and selfishness, national crime and weakuess and degradation, and ruin, may only tou soon inform us.
After all, it is not individual liberty—the right of conscience of speech—for vhich men need have fear when iutrusting the education of the nation's youth to those whom the nation shall bave chosen as its Government. Teach as zealously and as carefully as you will in your State-schools—the fear will still be, not of the government-teacher overlaying the parental doctrine, but of the parentif so disposed—by daily opposition or perversion, eradicating the lessons of the publie school.
In all cases too (as a necessary consequence of the law of progress) however excellent your arrangements, there will be a minority to complain, and perhaps to suffer. The minority here will be those very few wiser than their time, who could teach their children even better than the collective wisdom of their nation. But of how much would these have to complain? Free out of school hours to teach their children, if they had but to add the higher knowledge, their task would be easy; neither would time or opportunity be wanting if haply they had somewhat to correct. They have their voice, too, in the councils of the nation, to make their greater wisdom heard—with it to convince even the schoolmasters, if its sound may be of sufficient potency.
RULE OF THE MAJORITY MUTUAL SACREDNESS OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY. We believe that the interpretation of the moral law and rule of progress cannot be confided to a caste or an individual ; but only to the people, enlightened by national education, directed by those among them Dhom virtue and genius point out to then as their best.
'We believe in the sacredness of both individuality and society, which ought not to be effaced, nor to combat, but to harmonize together for the amelioration of all by all.'
The whole question of politics is an educational question. Government—if it has any meaning—is the organized power which educates-rules-orders. We believe that this educational power cannot be intrusted to a caste, whether an aristocracy, a corporation, or a priesthood. It matters not what numbers compose the caste, whether few or many; it matters not whether there be careful patriarchal training, or the constitutional carelessness of those "governors' who are content with being a corrupt and inefficient police. ~ Many or few, careful or careless, the difference is one only of degree. If a caste rules, you can have but tyrants on one side, and slaves upon the other. There can be no real education there, no ccrtain progress : for there is not the People. The instinct of the whole People is alone the conscience of Humanity; it alone can be trusted to interpret the law of progress.
Still less can the government be intrusted to an individual. He will teachi, or order, in accordance with his own wish, at best his consciencious thought; he cannot give expression to the universal conscience. To confide the rule to the hands of one is to let the exception give law. Though even the true prophet
How inefficient even as a mere police, weekly records of murder, robbery, and swindling may well inform us.
be king and ruler, you are not certain of the right ordering,—for he sees the progess which is desirable, which, indeed, shall some day be, but not always that which is practicable immediately. And when you have no prophet, but some imbecile slip of the past, whose eyes are in the back of his head, -what law of progress can you have uttered by such? Truly not even an attempt at utterance.
The People must decide upon its own life. The Majority must command. There and there alone dwells the true interpretation of God's law of progress, -the decision of not merely that which is best to be done, but of that which may best be done at each succeeding moment.
Let it not be objected that the wisest are ever in the minority. If wisdom cannot make itself manifest to the majority, whose is the fault? Something is surely lacking in the wisdom. The wisest are those who can best regulate today's work, not forgetting the future.
And the conscience of a whole people is never at fault. There have been panics and madnessess of multitndes, popular crimes and errors; but never a whole people, even in the lowest state of a people, unitedly wrong upon any great matter. Religious and other wars, massacres, and persecutions,—these are royal, aristocratic, and sacerdotal work. Villainies innumerable rest upon the castes who have misgoverned nations; but the peoples' hands are clean. When kings and priests provoked and carried on that desolating war against the Tlussites, the popular conscience upheld the right. And in the wildest period of the French Revolution, the People's judgment was sound and just. Never has it swerved unless seduced by priests or tyrants, and oft-times even then it has indignantly turned upon and rebuked its infamous leader. The history of the current popular struggle, from February, 1848, to the recent just denunciation of woman-flogging Haynau, by the sturdy, right-feeling brewers of Bankside, is one continuous vindication and series of examples of the true conscience of the Peoples. The lowest masses are better thau the privileged now; and how unspeakably better still will be the People, when, instead of being ill-taught, or left in ignorance by despicable or detested pretenders, they shall be educated by those whom they can revere and honestly and lovingly obey, “those whom genius and virtne have pointed out to them as their best.'
But we believe that there are limits to the power of even the government of a majority: the limits of INDIVIDUAL RIGHT. The majority may not enslave the minority, cither by disposing of their bodies or coercing their consciences, in violation of the original equality of human brotherhood. Every attempt upon the rights of individuals, by the most overwhelming majority, is an attempt against the very bond of society, which exists in virtue of the mutual sacredness of it and of each of its members. If the free growth of any is suppressed, there is a hinderance of the progress of the whole,—the progress whose seed must ever be first planted in the hearts of the few. Government is the enlightened conscience of to-day, organizing and directing present means for to-day's work. But the 'few' of to-day may so manifest their growth and superiority, that tomorrow the many'shall be with them, and to-morrow's higher work need a new direction.
When such a Government can be obtained, -that is to say, when the Government (I do not say merely a part of it) shall be chosen by the whole people, there need not be occasion to trammel its progress with the clogs which men hang at the heels (better sometimes if they were round the necks) of their governors in what are pleasantly called constitutional states. • There need be no jealousy of those who are chosen by an educated People. It will not then be necessary that the general progress should be stayed for fear a too powerful Government should encroach upon individual liberties. It will then be seen that Society is as saered as Individuality, needs as much protection; that it is not enough to make every man's house ‘his castle,' (your private castles, do not keep out the burglar, or the unjust tax-collector, or the extortioner,) but to make every man a true soldier, servant, and office-bearer in the nation, which will then need no private castles. This mutual sacredness of the individual and society will then become possible : then, when the people are all free and equal, and when their own chosen governors marshall them on the way of progress,-not by nice balancing of interests,-nor by dictation of the minutest matters of life,-not by endeavouring to stereotype their subjects, to make them run in parallel grooves of happiness or duty,—but by obeying the dietates of the popular conscience and helping the national genius to unfold itself; careful not so much to dictate the work as to provide that the work be done by healthy, strong, and faithful men, conscious of their mission and anxious that it should be fulfilled. The nation itself will decide upon the work to do; and be it peace or war, will know how to decide rightly,
'We believe in the duty of the individual to make use of the elements of material, iatellectual, and moral work, with the utmost concurrence ofhis faculties.'
The ground upon which I have advocated the duties of a State toward its members, in supplying them with the means of growth and work, has been that of the necessity of organization, in order to insure the more regular and rapid and certain progression of the whole of Humanity. The duty of a State toward its members implies, of necessity, corresponding duties of the members toward the State. If the State supplies means of work, secures property and growth, those so furnished and secured are bound to maintain the same advantages for others. Parts of the body politic, accepting the advantage of belonging to it, their daty is manifestly to maintain its integrity. Indeed their own position is untenable unless they do so. For the State only exists as a combination. If all work for one, one owes a return to all. But again I say that it is not upon this mere footing of a bargain, which might imply choice, that we must place the duty of the individual ; but upon the moral basis of his position as a part of one comprehensive whole,-a position which is not a matter of choice, but necessitated by the very fact of his birth, and from which he can never be released except by death. It cannot be too often repeated that the Individual is a part of Humanity, an inseparable link of the one vast chain hanging from the throne of God. Man has not the choice of being his brother's keeper,' or not. He cannot dissolve the brotherhood. He has not the option of bargaining so much duty for interest. He has by his very birth appropriated the interest, and he owes the duty of his life in repayment of that. Unless he would be a thief.
England to wit: which has no constitution.