« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
It is believed by many intelligent men that from one-third to onehalf the annual products of this State are annually lost fiom ignorance on the above topics. And it can scarcely be doubted that in a few years the entire cost of the whole institution would be annually saved to the State in the above interests alone, aside from all its other benefits, intellectual, 'moral, social, and pecuniary.
The apparatus required for such a work is obvious. There should be grounds devoted to a botanical and common garden; to orchards and fruityards; to appropriate lawns and promenades, in which the beautiful art of landscape gardening could be appropriately applied and illustrated; to all varieties of pasture,
meadow, and tillage needful for the successful prose. cution of the necessary annual experiments. And on these grounds should be collected and exhibited a sample of every variety of domestic animal, and of every tree, plant, and vegetable that can minister to the health, wealth, or taste and comfort of the people of the State; their nature, habits, merits, production, improvement, culture, diseases, and accidents, thoroughly scrutinized, tested, and made known to the students, and to the people of the State.
There should also be erected a sufficient number of buildings and outbuildings for all the purposes above indicated, and a repository, in which all the ordinary tools and implements of the institution should be kept, and models of all other useful implements and machines from time to time collected, and tested, as they are proffered to public use. At first it would be for the interest of inventors and venders to make such deposites. But, should similar institutions be adopted in other States, the general government ought to create in each State a general patent office, attached to the universities, similar to the existing deposites at Wash ington; thus rendering this department of mechanical art and skill more accessible to the great mass of the people of the Union.
I should have said, also, that a suitable industrial library should be at once procured, did not all the world know such a thing to be impossible, and that one of the first and most in portant duties of the professors of such institutions will be to begin to create, at this late hour, a proper practical literature, and series of text-books for the industrial classes.
As regards the professors, they should, of course, not only be men of the most eminent practical ability in their several departments, but their connexion with the institution should be rendered so fixed and stable as to enable them to carry through such designs as they may form, or all the peculiar benefits of the system would be lost.
Instruction, by lectures and otherwise, should be given mostly in the colder months of the year, leaving the professors to prosecute their investigations, and the students their necessary labor, either at home or on the premises, during the warmer months.
The institution should be open to all classes of students above a fixed age, and for any length of time, whether three months or seven years, and each taught in those peculiar branches of art which he wishes to pursue, and to any extent, more or less. And all should pay their tuition and board bills, in whole or in part, either in money or necessary work on the prenaises-regard being had to the ability of each.
Among those who labor, inedals and testimonials of merit should be given to those who perform their tasks with most promptitude, energy care, and skill; and all who prove indolent or ungovernable excluded
at first from all part in labor, and speedily, if not thoroughly, reformed from the institution itself; and here again let the law of nature, instead of the law of rakes and dandies, be regarded, and the true impression ever made on the mind of all around—that woRK ALONE IS HONORABLE, and indolence certain disgrace, if not ruin.
At some convenient season of the year, the commencement, or annual fair of the university, should be held through a succession of days. On this occasion the doors of the institution, with all its treasures of art and resources of knowledge, should be thrown open to all classes, and as many other objects of agricultural or mechanical skill, gathered from the whole State, as possible, and presented by the people for inspection and premium on the best of each kind; judgment being rendered, in all cases, by a committee wholly disconnected with the institution. On this occasion all the professors, and as many of the pupils as are sufficiently advanced, should be constantly engaged in lecturing and explaining the divers objects and interests of their departments. In short, this occasion should be made the great annual gala day of the institution, and of all the industrial classes, and all other classes in the State, for the exhibition of their products and their skill, and for the vigorous and powerful diffusion of practical knowledge in their ranks, and a more intense enthusiasm in its extension and pursuit.
As matters now are, the world has never adopted any efficient means for the application and diffusion of even the practical knowledge which does exist. True, we have fairly got the primer, the spelling-book, and the newspaper abroad in the world, and we think that we have done wonders; and so, comparatively, we have. But if this is a wonder, there are still not only wonders, but, to most minds, inconceivable miracles, froin new and unknown worlds of light, soon to break forth upon the industrial mind of the world.
Here, then, is a general, though very incomplete, outline of what such an institution should endeavor to become. Let the reader contemplate it as it will appear when generations have perfected it, in all its magnificence and glory; in its means of good to man-to all men of all classes ; in its power to evolve and diffuse practical knowledge and skill, true taste, love of industry, and sound morality--not only through its apparatus, experiments, instructions, and annual lectures and reports, but through its thousands of graduates in every pursuit in life, teaching and lecturing in all our towns and villages—and then let him seriously ask himself, is not such an object worthy of at least an effort, and worthy of a State which God himself, in the very act of creation, designed to be the first agricultural and commercial State on the face of the globe ?
Who should set the world so glorious an example of educating their sons worthily of their heritage, their duty, and their destiny, if not the people of such a State ? In our country we have no aristocracy, with the inalienable wealth of ages, and constant leisure and means to perform all manner of useful experiments for their own amusement; but we must create our nobility for this purpose, as we elect our rulers, from our own ranks, to aid and serve, not to domineer over and control us. And this done, we will not only beat England, and beat the world, in yachts, and locks, and reapers, but in all else that contributes to the well-being and true glory of man.
I maintain that, if every farmer's and mechanic's son in this State could now visit such an institution but for a single day in the year, it would do him more good in arousing and directing the dormant energies of mind than all the cost incurred, and far more good than many a six months of professed study of things he never need and never wants to know.
As things now are, our best farmers and mechanics, by their own native force of mind, by the slow process of individual experience, come to know at forty what they might have been taught in six months at twenty; while a still greater number of the less fortunate or less gifted stumble on through life almost as ignorant of every true principle of their art as when they begun. A man of real skill is amazed at the Slovenly ignorance and waste he everywhere discovers on all parts of their premises; and still more to hear them boast of their ignorance of all “ book farming,” and maintain that “their children can do as well as they have done;" and it certainly would be a great pity if they could not.
T'he patrons of our university would be found in the former, not in the latter class. The man whose highest conception of earthly bliss is a log hut in an unenclosed yard, where pigs of two species are allowed equal rights, unless the four-legged tribe chance to get the upper hand, will be found no patron of industrial universities. Why should he be? He knows it all already.
There is another class of untaught farmers who devote all their capital and hired labored to the culture, on a large scale, of some single product which always pays well when so produced on a fresh soil, even in the most unskilful hands. Now, such men often increase rapidly in wealth, but it is not by their skill in agriculture, for they have none; their skill consists in the management of capital and labor; and deprive them of these, and confine them to the varied culture of a small farm, and they would starve in five years where a true farmer would amass a small fortune. This class are, however, generally the fast friends of education, though many a looker-on will cite them as instances of the uselessness of acquired skill in farming; whereas they should cite them only as a sample of the resistless power of capital even in comparatively unskilful hands.
Such institutions are the only possible remedy for a caste education, legislation, and literature. If any one class provide for their own liberal education in the State, as they should do, while another class neglect this, it is as inevitable as the law of gravitation that they should form a ruling caste or class by themselves, andwield their power more or less for their own exclusive interests and the interests of their friends.
If the industrial were the only educated class in the State, the caste power in their hands would be as much stronger than it now is as their numbers are greater. But now industrial education has been wholly neglected, and the various industrial classes left still ignorant of matters of the greatest moment pertaining to their vital interests; while the professions have been studied till trifles and fooleries have been magnified into matters of immense importance, and tornadoes of windy words and barrels of innocent ink shed over them in vain.
This, too, is the inevitable result of trying to crowd all liberal, practical education into one narrow sphere of human life. It crowds their ranks with men totally unfit by nature for professional service. Many of these,
under a more congenial culture, might have become, instead of the starving scavengers of a learned profession, the honored members of an industrial one. Their love of knowledge was indeed amiable and highly commendable; but the necessity which drove them from their natural sphere in life in order to obtain it is truly deplorable.
But such a system of general education as we now propose would, in ways too numerous now to mention, tend to increase the respectability, power, numbers, and resources of the true professional class.
Nor are the advantages of the mental and moral discipline of the student to be overlooked; indeed, I should have set them down as most important of all had I not been distinctly aware that such an opinion is a most deadly heresy; and I tremble at the thought of being arraigned before the tribunal of all the monks and ecclesiastics of the Old World, and no small number of their progeny in the New.
It is deemed highly important that all in the professional classes should become writers and talkers; hence they are so incessantly drilled in all the forms of language, dead and living, though it has become quite doubtful whether, even in their case, such a course is most beneficial, except in the single case of the professors of literature and theology, with whom these languages form the foundation of their professions and the indispensable instruments of their future art in life.
No inconsiderable share, however, of the mental discipline that is attributed to this peculiar course of duty arises from daily intercourse, for years, with minds of the first order in their teachers and comrades, and would be produced under any other course if the parties had remained harmoniously together. On the other hand, a classical teacher, who has no original, spontaneous power of thought, and knows nothing but Latin and Greek, however perfectly, is enough to stultify a whole generation of boys, and make them all pedantic fools like himself. The idea of infusing mind, or creating, or even materially increasing it by the daily inculcation of unintelligible words—all this awful wringing to get blood out of a turnip—will, at any rate, never succeed except in the hands of the eminently wise and prudent, who have had long experience in the process; the plain, blunt sense of the unsophisticated will never realize cost in the operation. There are, moreover, probably, few men who do not already talk more, in proportion to what they really know, than they ought to. This chronic diarrhæa of exhortation, which the social atmosphere of the age tends to engender, tends far less to public health than many suppose. The history of the Quakers shows that more sound sense, a purer momlity, and a more elevated practical piety can exist, and do exist, entirely without it, than is commonly with it.
At all events, we find, as society becomes less conservative and pedan. tic, and more truly and practically enlightened, a growing tendency of all other classes, except the literary and clerical, to omit this supposed linguistic discipline, and apply themselves directly to the more immediate duties of their calling; and, aside from some little inconvenience at first, in being outside of caste, that they do not succeed quite as well in advancing their own interests in life, and the true interests of society, there is no sufficient proof.
Indeed, I think the exclusive and extravagant claims set up for ancient lore, as a means of disciplining the reasoning powers, simply ridiculous when examined in the light of those ancient worthies who
produced that literature, or the modern ones who have been most devoted to its pursuit, in this country and in Europe. If it produces infallible practicable reasoners, we have a great many thousand infallible antagonistic truths, and ten thousand conflicting paths of right, interest, duty, and salvation. If any man will just be at the trouble to open his eyes and his ears, he can perceive at a glance how much this evasive discipline really does, and has done, for the reasoning faculty of man, and how much for the power of sophistical cant, and stereotyped nonsense; so that, it obvious facts, instead of verbose declamation, are to have any weight in the case, I am willing to join issue with the opposers of the proposed scheme, even on the bare ground of its superior adaptation to develop the mental powers of its pupils.
The most natural and effectual mental discipline possible for any man arises from setting him to earnest and constant thought about the things he daily does, sees, and handles, and all their connected relations and interests. The final object to be attained with the industrial class is to make them thinking laborers; while of the professional class we should desire to make laborious thinkers—the production of goods, to feed and adorn the body, being the final end of one class of pursuits; and the production of thought, to do the same for the mind, the end of the other. But neither mind nor body can feed on the offals of preceding generations. And this constantly-recurring necessity of reproduction leaves an equally honorable, though somewhat different, career of labor and duty open to both; and, it is readily admitted, should and must vary their modes of education and preparation accordingly.
It may do for the man of books to plunge at once amid the catacombs of buried nations and languages, to soar away to Greece or Rome, or Nova-Zembla, Kamschatka, and the fixed stars, before he knows how to plant his own beans, or harness his own horse, or can tell whether the functions of his own body are performed by a heart, stomach, and lungs, or with a gizzard and gills.
But for the man of work thus to bolt away at once from himself and all his pursuits in after.life, contravenes the plainest principles of nature and common sense. No wonder such educators have ever deemed the liberal culture of the industrial classes an impossibility, for they have never tried, nor even conceived of, any other way of educating them, except that by which they are rendered totally unfit for their several callings in afterlife. How absurd would it seem to set a clergyman to ploughing and studying the depredations of blights, insects, the growing of crops, &c., &c., in order to give him habits of thought and mental discipline for the pulpit! Yet this is not half as ridiculous, in reality, as the reverse absurdity of attemping to educate the man of work in unknown tongues, abstract problems and theories, and metaphysical figments and quibbles.
Some, doubtless, will regard the themes of such a course of education as too sensuous and gross to be at the basis of a pure and elevated mental culture. But the themes themselves cover all possible knowledge of all modes and phases of science, abstract, mixed, and practical. In short, the field embraces all that God has made, and all that human art has done; and if the created universe of God, and the highest art of man, are too gross for our refined uses, it is a pity the morning stars and the sons of God” did not find it out as soon as the blunder was made. But, in my opinion, these topics are of quite as much conse