Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/606

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flow. Whatever the faults are of our richer classes, there is no lack among them of generous giving. Take any newspaper, and you will find that, although by unwise legislation we are closing many of the great channels existing for their gifts, yet the quality persists. The endowment of colleges at one period, the endowment of grammar schools at another period, gifts to religious institutions, and the support given to that narrow, partial, vexatious, and official-minded system of education which prevailed up to 1870, are all evidence of what the richer people are ready to do as long as you do not withhold the opportunities. It may, however, he said, "Do not rich gifts bring obligations, and with them their mischievous consequences?" It is plain that the most healthy state of education will exist when the workmen, dividing themselves into natural groups according to their own tastes and feelings, organize the education of their children without help, or need of help, from outside. But between obligatory and voluntary contributions there is the widest distinction. There is but slight moral hurt to the giver or receiver in the voluntary gift, provided only that the spirit on both sides be one of friendly eqyality. It is the forced contribution, bringing neither grace to the giver nor to the receiver, which has the evil savor about it, and brings the evil consequence. The contribution taken forcibly from the rich is justified on the ground that the thing to be provided is a necessity for which the poorer man can not pay. Thus the workman is placed in the odious position of putting forward the pauper's plea, and two statements equally deficient in truth are made for him: one, that book-education is a necessity of life—a statement which for those who look for an exact meaning in words that are used is simplu not true; and the other, that our people can not provide it for themselves if left to do so in their own fashion.[1]

I wish to push still further the question of how much real power the workman possesses over the education of his children. I maintain that, setting aside the interference of ministers, merchants, manufacturers, doctors, lawyers, and squires in his affairs, he has only the shadow and semblance of power, and that he never will possess anything more substantial under a political system. Let us see for what purposes political organization can be usefully applied. It is well adapted to those occasions when some definite reply has to be made to a simple question. Shall there be peace or war? shall political power be extended to a certain class? shall certain punishments follow certain crimes? shall the form of government be republican or monarchical? shall taxes be levied by direct or indirect taxation? These are all questions which can be fairly answered by Yes or No, and on which every man enrolled in a party can fairly express his opinion if he has once

  1. At the same time a thorough and radical readjustment of our educational endowments is required in the interest of the workmen, who, though in most cases having the first claim, derive little or no advantage from them.