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80 many subtractions from the livelihood classes, as the sources of its future strength. and liberty of the industrious and provi
interest of history,” wrote Emerson, not without
personal experience, “lies in the fortunes of the dent.
poor." No, Mr. Higginson ; think twice, sir, be
But suppose that compulsory education, fore you arraign us on the indictment of
by conferring an unearned benefit and thus barbarism, - a charge made no more justi- preserving the unfit, produces a class that is fiable by being prefaced with the adjective
neither rich nor poor, but simply vicious : " scientific.”
then, evidently, this argument falls to the If I should reply to Mr. Higginson thus, ground. Here, then, is the point at issue : every word would be strictly and literally
What is the effect of educating the children true, and every implication would be
of parents who are not fit to be parents ? true. The only addition necessary to com
The issue cannot be shifted from this plete, not to take from, the force of that
ground by talking of the “barbarism ” of picture is the consideration that only the
those who disagree with you. In this asextremes are there expressly contrasted,
pect, therefore, the question is whether Mr. and that the like implications hold true
Higginson is right in speaking of the class when the contrast is drawn not between
on whom the benefits of State education are the extremely virtuous and the extremely
conferred as the “honest poor.” 'It is a vicious but between individuals of more
fact that the class on whom these benefits common slamp, - those of moderate and
are conferred is more properly described as mixed virtues and vices. It is not so much
the vicious and idle poor; while the class the preservation of the intellectually as of
whose energies and virtues are taxed and the morally unfit which condemns the sys- handicappped for the purpose of conferring tem of State education. In both cases,
these benefits is the honest and industrious however, the contention is that justice and
poor. The incidence of taxation cannot be charity are qualities of action which must
circumscribed. Persons who never heard be distinguished one from the other; that
of the assessor, nor ever saw the collector, justice, when it is enforced, does no harm;
pay taxes in the form of raised rent and that charity, when it is enforced, does
increased cost of commodities. much harm, and that the harm quite over
Mr. Higginson says further :balances the good. But for Mr. Higginson
All experience shows that even hereditary vice to represent the position of To.DAY as
may be so controlled by a good environment that in based on objections to the preservation of time it becomes good and useful citizenship. ... the unfortunate denotes either ignorance
Well, what is there in the environment or disingenuousness. That he should make
of the common school that tends to 66 himself familiar with the pages of this
trol” vice and turn it into good citizenpaper before criticising it was not to be ex.
ship? The simple truth is, as every one pected, - taking into account how uninter
may know by searching his own heart, that esting the task would have been for him.
conduct is dependent in an immeasurably But I feel impelled to ask him by what
greater degree on feelings and emotions right be undertakes to describe this paper
than on ideas. There is really no evidence as the “ ablest American exponent of Mr.
whatever that intellectual culture, even Spencer's views,” when he is as unfamiliar
when it is genuine culture, will make men with these views as with their pretended moral ; and as to ordinary schooling, it may exponent?
be said to have literally no influence on If compulsory education confers a benefit on those conduct or morality. The only culture who otherwise would have lacked it, thereby in that will control" vice is moral culture; creasing their chances of long life, so much the
and there is no school of moral culture but better for the State, which needs to avail itself not merely of its more favored classes, but of all its the world. Men must live and move and
have their being, for better or for worse ; unfortunate, are treated with indiscriminate and when their life has been for the worse, harshness and severity for delinquencies as when it ends in ill-begotten children, it prompted, more often than not, by the sharp is crassitude to favor its preservation. spur of daily want, we who maintain
It would be comparatively easy to pro that this abortion of government is an evil duce facts tending to show that such educa- which threatens, in conjunction with the tion as the schools afford is a positive absolute impossibility of the poor man's encouragement to crime, insanity, and vice; getting civil justice, to turn back the march while, I say with confidence, it is not pos of industrial progress and submerge, persible to produce contrary facts. Taking haps, what is called civilization itself, we seventeen per cent as the average illiteracy are taunted with barbarism and " merciless of the United States in 1880, the last cen cruelty " ; while every maudlin and shortsus year, the ratio of insanity, crime, and sighted sentimentalist who proposes to vice to illiteracy may be displayed in the substitute a base generosity for sterling jusfollowing manner :
tice is welcomed as the prophet of the
millenium. CRIME, VICE, EDUCATION.
But Nature will not take false coin. Charity, though the most unselfish and excellent, cannot be made to take the place of justice. That that pre-eminently is the currency demanded by the conditions which are imposed on social progress; all
else will be rejected as counterfeit. The Percentage: Fifteen Illiterate
attempted substitution may happen, but (Southern) States 40 4-10 1 in 402 1 to 700 Northern States
with its success is bound the failure of civWest of Ohio.
1 in 379 1 to 308 ilization. Northern States East of Indiana . 5 3-10 1 in 265 | 1 to 227
... Slavery and absolutism at least aimed to
keep the children of the lower classes alive that they BENJAMIN REECE, Pop. Sc. Mon., Jan., 1890.
might serve their superiors. And the report of the superintendent of Here Mr. Higginson tries to place us in the New York State prisons for 1886 the position of foes of what he calls the shows that the prisons of Auburn and Sing
" lower classes.” I have already spoken Sing contained 2,616 convicts; 1,801 of of his improper classification, which here these are recorded as having a common
becomes painfully inapt.
With what proschool education, and only 238 as having priety a journal which devotes the greater no education. Well may we say with Mr. part of its space to emphasizing and seekReece:
ing redress for the injury that is inflicted When it is remembered that the detected illiter
on the materially unsuccessful by the extraate generally finds his way to prison, while the judicial action of government can be dehighly educated or well-to-do are frequently saved
scribed as a foe of the lower classes " by friends, who compound the felony to escape exposure and consequent family disgrace, that many
and as aiming to kill these off for the are saved from conviction by the ability of counsel benefit of any body or thing, I leave Mr. whose services are far beyond the means of the Higginson to determine. It is precisely illiterate poor, while still many others escape into voluntary exile to avoid imprisonment, it will be
the worthy members of what Mr. Higginseen that even the figures given inadequately por son, not I, has called the “ lower classes" tray the extent of crime which, in strict justice, is who are injured by State education. Every properly chargeable to the educated classes.
crust of bread munched in despondent soliYet we who maintain that the failure of tude by the “ poor widow" is made smaller justice, in letting the guilty rich and well and harder in order that the children of an to-do escape, while the poor, and often the idle drunkard may be taught to spell. The
poor family with three children is taxed for measures its fortune in dollars. Whom the the schooling of the poor family with a gods will destroy, they first make mad. dozen children. Instead of reaping the Not the least significant symptom of this just rewards of moral restraints, exercised madness is the fearful eagerness with which in order to educate three children well, in the invasion of Africa is urged forward by stead of six badly or a dozen not at all, mistaken philanthropists, just as, at home, the provident and ambitious poor are forced the same men, equally mistaken, urge forto share the expense of a family begotten ward State education and other steps in indolence and bred in indifference to the toward socialism. In the case of Africa, welfare of the offspring. Placing a handi success will attend their efforts, and all cap on virtue and thrift for the benefit of chance of normal and independent developvice and indolence is not barbarism indeed, ment will be cut off from the inhabitants of for barbarians were hardly so blind, but it that unhappy land In the case of State is something less than barbarism, which I education, should socialism go no further, will hesitate to name. I cannot leave Mr. no permanent harm to the race will be conHigginson without asking him to explain summated; because, do what you will, the what he means by the following sentences : unworthy cannot be made to survive so long
Thus the great principle of evolution, which in as more worthy are born to take their place. Darwin's hands had no hard or merciless side, since Without wishing to trouble Mr. Higginno man better recogrized the rights of the more back
son beyond measure, I should also be gratiward races of mankind, has become in the hands of his followers, and especially, I regret to say, among
fied to hear some defence for his statement the adherents of Herbert Spencer, a doctrine of mer that the " Man versus the State” is a ciless cruelty.
“ favorite catchword” of Spencer's. This The state of mind here betrayed might will be an easy statement to defend, by seem to a less sanguine person than myself simply pointing out the passages in his too hopelessly confused for comment. But
works in which the “ catchword ” occurs ; a I will merely request that Mr. Higginson,
task which will no doubt be trivial for one a matter of justice to those whom he so conversant with the writings of that phidescribes as adherents of Herbert Spencer, losopher. He can take the same occasion exhibit his authority for representing us
for showing us in what respects Mr. Spencer as indifferent,' much less hostile, to the
and bis adherents are followers of Darwin. “ rights of the more backward races.” Sir, if I am not very much mistaken, it is among
DISREGARD OF THE CONSTITUTION. the adherents of Herbert Spencer that are The habit, so common in England, of to-day to be found almost the only oppo measuring the efficiency of a government nents of the perpetual encroachments of our by the quantity of statutes it has produced,
a so-called higher on the rights of has extended to this country. Probably the more backward races. From adherents never before has there been here so great a of Spencer, more than from any other demand for the removal of restraints upon source, come the warnings, which will pass legislation as has
been heard this past unheeded, against the invasion of the terri winter. It is seen that the House of Reptory of the African, now the most help resentatives might be more efficient as a less of the races exposed to the relentless legislative body if it had responsible tyranny of the white man. But this domi leaders, and forthwith a cry goes up that nant race is borne forward on the crest of a members of the Cabinet be given seats in great wave of success, it is possessed with the House and permitted to propose legisa frenzy of conquest and aggrandizement, lation. The Senate, partly from its plan it is blind with the blindness of materialism. of composition and partly from the mode of It reckons its greatness in millions, and electing Senators, is a check upon the will
of the majority of the people, and there is That the exigencies of partisanship a demand that the mode of election be should form an excuse for disregarding the changed. A restraint upon the will of the spirit of the Constitution would bardly have majority of the House was found in the been expected by the framers of that minority, and new rules of procedure were instrument. The self-control of majorities adopted with the purpose of lessening as certainly does not increase as the country much as possible the power of the minority grows older. The Constitution acts as a restraint upon But there can be no practice so bad that the majority in Congress and among the it will not have its defenders. Mr. Edward people at large, and the tendency of the Stanwood comes forward in the North majority in Congress at any rate, is to dis American Review with a defence for this. regard the Constitution as far as may be. His defence is negative; probably the time
For a long time there existed a sort of is not ripe for a positive defence; he merely superstitious reverence for the framers of enters bis protest against “ fretting about the Constitution, wbich attributed to them the Constitution.” He succeeds in showing a sort of superhuman wisdom in political that very foolish objections bave been made matters, but now the tendency is the other to some laws on what were intended to be way, and less than justice is done to their Constitutional grounds, and that very foolinsight and originality. There may be ish support has been given to others. But more political wisdom, using the words in there is no way to keep foolish men from a good sense, now than there was in 1789, talking and acting foolishly. Frivolous but if so, less than a fair portion has found Constitutional objections against or arguits way into the present Congress. True, ments for proposed measures will have no the members of that body are animated by weight, and the fact that they are made is different motives from those which pre no reason why measures should not be convailed in the Federal Convention, but this sidered in their Constitutional aspects. will hardly account for all the contrasts in These men whose Constitutional utterances the debates of the two bodies.
Mr. Stanwood derides make just as absurd The influence of the Constitution in giv- arguments of other kinds; that they ating consistency to the acts of the Govern- tempt, though with poor success, to get ment and relieving us from the traditional light from the Constitution is really in their fickleness of republics cannot be overesti favor. mated. A very clever writer, dealing with The ultimate interpretation of the Conthe subject, says:
stitution, to be sure, rests with the Supreme
Court; that is, the Court has acquired the “A mere sentiment of respect for traditional principles, or for private rights, may for a time have authority to pronounce a statute unconstitusome effect in protecting a minority from hostile tional. But this, at best, amounts only to legislation, but in a progressive country, where pub
& negative interpretation, and cannot exlic affairs are fearlessly discussed, it will not long stand the strain to which it is constantly subjected;
cuse legislators from attempting to make and even if this sentiment is embodied in a formal their measures embody the spirit of the document, set up as a caution to the government, Constitution as far as possible. The exerand as a code of moral precepts which ought to be followed, there will be no difficulty in finding most
cise of its power by the Court is to be excellent reasons for violating its principles. Dan praised : anything is to be welcomed which ger to the State, imperative political necessity, etc., restrains temporary inajorities from foisting are excuses which commend themselves readily to
upon the country, even for a time, their any one who desires a change. The refusal, by the possessor of political power to make use of it, crude political nostrums; but more than requires the excrcise of great self-restraint."
this is necessary.