The education of the people (1859).
Address delivered in the Representatives' Chamber
, March 10, 1859.
In connection with this lecture the following remarks of Mr. Phillips
in regard to our public school methods of instruction may well find place.
They were delivered in Boston
, in December, 1876--
The public schools teach her arithmetic, philosophy, trigonometry, geometry, music, botany, and history, and all that class of knowledge.
Seven out of ten of them, remember, are to earn their bread by the labor of their hands.
Well, at fifteen we give that child back to her parents utterly unfitted for any kind of work that is worth a morsel of bread.
If the pupil could only read the ordinary newspaper to three auditors it would be something, but this the scholar, so educated, so produced, cannot do. I repeat it. Four fifths of the girls you present to society at fifteen cannot read a page intelligibly.
We produce only the superficial result of the culture we strive for.
Now I claim that this kind of education injures the boy or girl in at least three ways.
First, they are able only by forgetting what they have learned to earn their day's bread; in the second place, it is earned reluctantly; third, there is no ambition for perfection aroused.
It seems to be a fact which many of the public educators of to-day overlook, that seven tenths of the people born into the world earn their living on matter and not on mind.
Now, friends, I protest against this whole system of common schools in Massachusetts.
It lacks the first element of preparation for life.
We take the young girl or the young boy whose parents are able to lift them into an intellectual profession; we keep them until they are eighteen years old in the high schools; we teach them the sciences; they go to the
academy or the college to pursue some course of preparation for their presumed work through life.
Why not keep them a little longer and give them other than intellectual training for the business of life?
: I have never been present at any of your meetings, and am not well informed as to their precise purpose.
I may, therefore, step aside from the platform accorded to you in the remarks I am to offer.
I cannot expect, either, ladies and gentlemen, to present to you, on the topic of to-night, anything like the comprehensive views or the varied and exquisite illustrations which the speakers of the last week gave you on a kindred topic.
They are rare men and have had rare opportunities.
I am sorry to remember, even though it be to their honor, how much rarer still it is to find such men coming forward to aid in meetings like these.
I suppose your intention is to touch all sides of the question of Popular Education, and with especial reference, so far as outsiders may, to some of the plans which engage the attention of the community and of the legislature at this moment,--plans of vast public improvement; plans of generous State aid toward great interests of the public; plans intended to make Boston
the leading city of the Union
, in regard to some of those intellectual gratifications and scientific attractions which our country so much lacks, which would subserve, not only the honor, but the interest
of the State
, if that is to be considered.
Some call the Yankee
blood niggard, and think we look with suspicion upon such plans of public expense.
For one, Mr. Chairman
, I doubt that.
I think we have fairly earned, we New Englanders, the character of generous patrons of all things that really claim public support.
They call us “pedlers,” “hucksters;” we are said to look upon both sides of a dollar, and all round the rim, before we spend it; and yet I
undertake to say, that in this very “niggardly New England
,” there have been, and are, not only the most generous efforts for the widest education, for the readiest relief, for the most lavish endowment of all institutions for the public, but we have set the world the first example in many of these.
I believe it would be found, that if we compared New England
, I will not say with the rest of the Union
,--for she may justly disdain such comparison,--but with England
itself, with any country, it would be found that a greater proportion, a larger percentage of private wealth, since its foundation, had been given and pledged to matters of public concern, than anywhere else in the world.
We are educated in that faith.
Money-giving is the fashion,--provided you choose popular objects.
Indeed, to give is so much a matter expected and of course, that the rich man's will which is opened in the latitude of Boston
, or its neighborhood, and found not to contain ample legacies for great public objects, is set down as singular, odd,--so singular as to be marked with the stigma of public rebuke.
It is so much a fashion, that it takes a peculiar obstinacy of stinginess even to hide itself in the grave without giving more than the Jewish tenth to the public.
If, therefore, the projects of State aid to great public intellectual and moral purposes should result-which I doubt — in expense to the State
, they would be justified by the whole tone of the past history of Massachusetts
, and welcomed with proud satisfaction by the community.
I think we have only reached a new level in the gradual rising of public feeling.
Every year,--at least every decade, every generation, certainly,--originates a new step; the standpoint rises; we look at things from a different point of view.
We have reached one now, when it begins to be claimed of government and
private individuals, that all their wealth belongs to the public; that it is mortgaged for the education of every child among us; that God gave it for mankind.
I look upon the State
, or rather I look upon society, composed of the religious and civil organizations — the one represented here, the other represented in the churches — as a great Normal School.
I think the men who occupy these benches day by day are mere schoolmasters for the State
Their object is to arrange the best method to unfold and carry forward the public mind.
The friend who has just taken his seat, Isaac F. Shepard
, has alluded to Greece
It reminds me that there were two civilizations in the old time,--one was Egyptian
, the other was Greek
kept its knowledge for priests and nobles.
Science hid itself in the cloister; it was confined to the aristocracy.
Knowledge was the organ of despotism; it was the secret of the upper classes; it was the engine of government; it was used to over-awe the people; and when Cambyses
came down from Persia
, and thundered across Egypt
, treading out under his horse's hoofs royalty and priesthood, he trod out science and civilization at the same time.
The other side of the picture is Greece
Her civilization was democratic.
It was for the mob of Athens
, so to speak, that Pericles
spoke and planned; that the tragedian wrote; that the historian elaborated, in his seven years labor, those perfect pictures of times and states and policies.
It was for the people that the games, the theatres, the treasures of art, and the records of learning were kept.
It busied itself with every man in the market-place, day by day; and the scholar thought life wasted if he did not hear, at the moment, the echo and the amen to his labors in the appreciation of the market-place.
trusted the people; he laid
himself, full length, on the warm heart of the mob, the masses.
came to Greece
, and they asked him what he thought of the Greek Democracy
, when he had heard the orators argue and seen the people vote.
The faithful scholar, with that same timidity which marks the fastidious scholarship of to-day, replied, “I think that wise men argue questions and fools decide them.”
It was a scholar's judgment.
But you sit here to-day with the science of Egypt-its exclusive, fastidious, timid, conservative science — buried in the oblivion of two thousand years; and you live to-day with a hundred idioms of speech borrowed, all your art copied from Greece
, your institutions shaped largely on her model, and your ideas of right and wrong influenced by the hearts that throbbed in that mob of Athens
, two thousand years ago!
[Applause.] Our civilization takes its shape from the Greek,--it is for the people.
There was no private wealth, there was no private interest in Greece
; it was all for one commonwealth; and such should be ours to-day.
Government, I say, is a school.
Two thousand years ago all government thought of was to build up its gallows.
Fine and death were its two punishments; it knew no other.
To use Bulwer
's figure, it put up the gallows at the end of the road, and allowed men to stray as they might.
We have gone on two thousand years, and now we put a guide-board at the beginning, saying, “This is the wrong road.”
We educate men. We have added disgrace, disfranchisement, imprisonment, moral restraint, rewards, and many other things to our list of instruments.
Government is beginning to remember that prevention
is one of its great objects.
It begins to remember that it does not get the right to hang, until it has discharged the duty of education; that until it
has held up the baby footsteps with knowledge and moral culture, it has no right to arrest the full-grown sinner, and strangle him.
Now, that idea broadens with every year.
What is Education?
It is not simply books.
There is another idea that is dawning before us. We have been accustomed to study only books.
I believe every observing man will agree with me, that the day is dawning when we are to study things
, not books only.
I do not mean that we are to lay aside books.
We are not to give up languages and history, and studies of that class, but I think that the study of things is to be grafted upon these.
God's works,--the beautiful in objects, the curious and useful in science, the great relations between the sciences, the laws which govern national development, the conditions of health and disease, the growth of population, the laws which crime and accident obey, the material interests of society,--the handiwork of God and his laws, the day is dawning, I think, when education will turn largely in that direction.
The people claim of government that it should provide these museums of things; that it should, “taking time by the forelock,” gather up all these living books that God has made for the education of the people, and preserve them.
Science, the history of science, the details of it, as preserved in museums,--these are beginning to be, especially with us, the objects of study.
They affect legislation closely.
No man is up to the van of his age, if he has not, at least, a general knowledge of these relations; he is not fit to sit in this hall and legislate about them.
If you will take up Brougham
's discourse on “The advantages and pleasures of science,” or Herschel
's, or that of any English scholar, you will find that they point to the pleasure and the moral growth which the
finds in the pursuit of science.
We have a broader interest.
The young men of New England
, as a general thing, are tossed into life before twenty.
Their fathers cannot afford them long schooling.
After the training of a few years, “the narrow means at home,” as the Roman
poet says, the keen wants of the family, oblige them to launch into life, after having gathered what they can in a few short years from books.
And these very men, snatching education from the wayside, their minds developed one-sidedly, perhaps, by too close attention to the immediate calling which earns their bread, are to come up to this hall, and be trusted with the various interests, the great necessities, and the honor of the Commonwealth
It is, then, for the interest of the Commonwealth
, that all along their wayside should be planted the means of a wider education, the provocatives of thought.
I will tell you what I mean.
Suppose to-day you go to Paris
(I am not now touching on the motives that make governments liberal; we may have one motive, a despotic government may have another.) But suppose you go to Paris
In the Jardin des Plantes
there, as it is technically called, you may find a museum of mineralogy; in the acres under cultivation, you may find every plant, every tree possible of growth in the climate of France
; in other departments, every animal that can be domesticated from the broad surface of the globe; so that the children of the poor man, without fee, -he himself, in his leisure,--may study these related sciences as much in detail, and with as much thoroughness, as one half of men can study them in books, and better than the other half can study them at all, in the actual living representative.
The very atmosphere of such scenes is education.
People are not able even to live, even to stand among the evidences of the labors,
among the collected intellectual fruits of their fellows, without tasting something of education.
If I were, therefore, speaking simply as a Massachusetts citizen, with my future interest in the hands of a democratic legislature, chosen from among the people, I should claim of the wealth of the State
, of the wealth of the wealthiest, that it was all mortgaged, not for ordinary schools merely, not for book culture, not even for the costly apparatus of university life, but that, in the crowded thoroughfares of cities, there should be thrown open to the public, in every large crowd of population, the means of studying the great sciences of the day.
If I asked it for nothing else, I would ask it as wise policy for the future.
I believe in it as education.
As simple, individual education, I believe in it — I believe in it as thoroughly, and for the same ends, as those Englishmen to whom I have referred.
I welcome it as such.
I know its influence.
I believe that the dissipated young man of Boston
who goes to Paris
to spend his three years, has fifty chances out of a hundred to come back a better moral man from the fact that his nature derives the needed stimulus from causes which call out his mind and better feelings,--for we can, none of us, get along without some stimulus.
In our country, there are only three sources of stimulus, as a general thing: One is the keen zest of money-making; the other is the intense excitement of politics; and if a man cannot throw himself into either of these he takes to drinking.
[Laughter and applause.] It is no marvel that there is so much dissipation among us; for every human being must have his pleasure, must have his excitement.
One man snatches it in ambition, another man hives it in close pursuit of wealth, and in pecuniary success.
There was a time when it seemed almost providential
that our race should have the keen edge of money-loving.
We were to conquer the continent.
God set us to subdue the wilderness.
We were to dot America with cities and States; we were to marry the oceans with roads.
Two generations have almost done.
it. That function could be discharged only under the keen stimulus of a love of pecuniary and material gain.
God gave it to us for that purpose.
I never blushed for the Yankee
's love for the “Almighty dollar;” it was no fault in the age of it. But now, we may say, we have built our London
and our Paris
, we have finished our Rome
and our Vienna
, and the time has come to crowd them with art, to flush them with the hues of painting, and fill them with museums of science, and all to create and feed a keen appetite for intellectual culture and progress among the people.
In this very city, in one ward, in one of the months of the past year , six hundred families were relieved by public aid, and mostly because their heads were intemperate,--nigh twenty-five hundred persons out of a population of fourteen thousand.
I verily believe that if those six hundred heads of families, in their hours of leisure, in their moments not necessary for toil, could have been lured, as the Italian
is, into gardens, could have had thrown open to them, as the Frenchman has, museums, teaching him history at a glance, as in the galleries of the Louvre, their families would not have been left to the hand of public charity.
The citizen of Paris
, without a sou, after laboring at fifty cents a day the week through, may have, on Saturday or Sunday, his nature elevated, the needed stimulus supplied without liquor, by entering a museum in which, if he has the taste, he shall see every form of ship ever built, from the first frail canoe that ever floated, to the last steamer that defied the elements; every species of arms, from
the first rude arrow made by a Greek or Egyptian
hand, down through the Middle Ages
, to the last revolver that Yankee skill has lent to war; every form of furniture, if he chooses to turn there; every plan of a city, ancient or modern; every bone, every fact of anatomy illustrated for him. The very share our institutions give to each man in the government, the responsibility we lay on him will call out, more than anywhere else has been manifested, an eager love for these things.
It is but just to say, that our community has made most readily the amplest use of all means provided by government or individuals.
In our libraries, books wear out in using; and no complaint is made anywhere of want of popular interest in any scientific collection.
You know not how the taste grows by the feeding.
We sometimes forget how the sight of these stores unfolds a taste which the man himself never dreamed he possessed.
He gazes, and, lo!
he too is a thinker and a student, instead of a half-wakened brute, born only, as the Roman
says, “to consume the fruits of the earth.”
He no longer merely digs or cumbers the ground, or hangs a dead weight on some braver soul.
--and his spreading pinion lifts his fellows.
taught this in the anecdote he mentioned, of a glance at Franklin
's urn first revealing to Greenough
that he was a sculptor.
You know the great John Hunter
, the head of English surgery, constructed with his own hands a museum of comparative anatomy a hundred feet long, and every spot filled with some specimen which his own hands had preserved in the leisure of a large city practice.
A lady once asked him, “Mr. Hunter
, what do you think is to be our occupation in heaven?”
“I do not know,” replied the old mall; “I cannot tell what we shall do there; but if the Almighty God would grant me the liberty to sit and think, for eternity, of his wonderful
works that I have seen in forty years, I could be happy as long as eternity lasted.”
It is impossible to trace the results of such provocatives of thought as these.
A name which the previous speaker used gives me an illustration pertinent to the occasion.
He spoke of one who has just left our shores, a man eminent in every good work,--Dr. Bowditch
You know his family story.
His father was a poor boy, one of those whose early privations and need after-time gathers up with loving and grateful admiration.
It chanced that one of the privateers of Essex county
brought in, as a prize, the extensive library of Dr. Kirwan
,--a scientific man. It was given to the public by the generosity of the merchants of Salem
, and so became open to young Bowditch
He was left to avail himself at will of this magazine of science.
The boy grew into a man; wife and children were about him, and moderate wealth in his hands.
La Place published his sublime work, which it is said only twenty men in the world can read.
With patient toil, with a brain which that early devotion had made strong, he mastered its contents; and was the first among the twenty to open that great commentary on the works of God to every man who reads the English
language, by translating it into our tongue, and supplying, with adroit and skilful industry, the steps by which the humblest student in mathematics may follow the giant strides of La Place. The expense of publishing a work which so few would buy, would take half of his fortune.
That life had in part educated, perhaps, his wife to the same high-souled determination which animated him. He said to her, “Shall we give our wealth to this service for posterity, shall we give it to our boys, or spend it in the pleasures of life?”
“Publish,” was the wife's reply.
He consecrated half his fortune to the
service of the future and the distant, to the student, and left to his children only education and example.
They stand now around us, eminent in every profession, and equally eminent for the same enthusiastic devotion, and the same prodigal liberality in every good cause.
How proud might the State
be, if, by opening similar libraries and museums, she educated a community of Bowditches, fathers of such children in the generations to come!
There is another consideration.
I will not pursue this subject, merely on this level; I will present even a lower one, if you please.
I mean to come down to the business level.
We never shall compete with New York in the allurements of a great city life.
As far as magnificent spectacles, as far as metropolitan wealth, as far as the splendors and amusements of the world are concerned, the great focal metropolis of the Empire
, New York, must always outdo us, in drawing vast numbers of business men and strangers to enter her streets.
She can make the tide set that way constantly, and turn New England
into a dependency on her great central power.
But it lies with Boston
to create an attraction only second to hers.
The blood of the Puritans, the old New England
peculiarities, can never compete with the Parisian life of New York.
But if we create here a great intellectual centre by our museums, by our scientific opportunities, if we become really “the Athens
,” as we assume to be, if we guard and preserve the precious gatherings of science now with us, we shall attract here a large class of intelligent and cultivated men, and thus do something to counterbalance the overshadowing influence of the great metropolis.
Why, here is the museum in Mason Street
, which has laid a petition upon the table of this House
to-day, possessed of treasures which, if lost, no skill, no industry, would replace,
giving to the geological and natural history of New England
contributions which, if once lost, cannot be regained; treasures visited, weekly, by crowds from our schools.
They should be covered safely and extended, if we would do what New York has done already.
I went, in Albany
, lately to a noble building which the Empire State
has furnished, dedicated to this: she means that every ore, every plant, every shell, every living or extinct animal, every tree, on the surface or in the bowels of the Empire State
, shall be represented in that Museum, for the study of her sons.
They shall find the fauna and the flora there; they shall find the living and the dead of the State
It remained awhile,--so the custodian, Colonel Jewett
, told me,--for some five or seven years, without provision for its shelter and safe-keeping, and one half its treasures were lost.
They have placed it to-day beyond risk.
They have done it in order to excite the curiosity and appreciation of their sons; they have given them the natural and scientific map of the State
to study; they have called out their latent capacity for science; they have set an example for other cities; they have done thus much to educate the people.
There is education in the very sight of things about us. I believe in the sentiment which would preserve yonder Hancock House; for the very sight of such a monument is a book pregnant with thought to the people that pass by it. A man of one mould has, of course, no right to regard a man of another mould as necessarily his inferior.
But this much surely we may be allowed, to hold that philosophy as cold and heartless which “conducts us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by piety or valor.”
Certainly that profound sentiment which makes the past live for us in the scenes consecrated to the noble
servants and great events of our race; which deepens our sense of obligation to the future by showing us our debt to the past; which changes our little life here, from an isolated instant into the connecting link between two eternities; which lifts the low window of some humble dwelling, and lets the genius of the past enter, till its walls expand into a palace, and we see written “in glowing letters over all,” the courage or virtue, the toil or self-devotion, which have made our daily life safer or more noble; which calls into being, amid the desert of low cares and dull necessities, an oasis,--and so forces us, even when most hurried or smothered in dust, to think
till the place
Becomes religion, and the heart runs o'er
With silent worship of the great of old,--
The dead but sceptred sovereigns who still rule
Our spirits from their urns.
For this sentiment, no one need blush; and often as it has been perverted, much as it has been abused, I believe in it as the mother of much that is beautiful, as a staff to resolution, as an incentive to virtue, as a pulse of that full being which lives in us when we are nearest to God.
A few years ago, I was in Chicago
, and they showed me, in the very centre of her stately streets, the original log-cabin in which General Dearborn
lived, before any other white man, save himself, drew breath upon that spot, now covered by the Queen of the West
It stood in its original, untouched, primeval condition,--the dark-stained, natural wood of the forest.
On all sides of it rose the splendid palaces of the young queen of western
cities,--the lavish outpouring of the rapidly increasing wealth of the lakes.
Roofs that covered depots, hotels, houses of commerce rivalling any to be
found in the spacious magnificence of Europe
, were within a biscuit's throw of the spot; while that very evening were celebrated the nuptials, in her twenty-first year, of the first child born on that spot where stands now a city of sixty thousand inhabitants.
It was the original ark of the city; it was the spot where her Romulus
first drew breath; it was the cradle of her history.
No capital in the world ever had such an opportunity of saying, when a hundred years old, to her million sons, “Behold the first roof that told the forest man had taken possession!”
To-day it has vanished!
There was not education, there was not sentiment, there was not historic interest, there was not that manhood which marries the past and the future and raises us above the brutes,--there was not enough of it in the young civilization of the West
to save that unique specimen, testifying by its very presence to the growth, in a night, of the city of the lakes, to save from the greed of speculation or the roar of trade a spot full of such interest to every thoughtful mind!
Would you like Boston
to be subject to such criticism as that?
Is there not an education of the heart of which it shows a lack?
Evidently there is. Such public treasures, open to all, work for us all the time.
If you should go and stand, for instance, in Florence
, and see the peasant walking amid a gallery of beautiful sculpture, or wandering through the gardens of princes, surrounded with every exotic and every form of beauty in marble and bronze, you would see the reason why the Italian
drinks in the love of the beautiful, until it becomes a part of him, without his thinking of it. So I think that the very sight of yonder Public Library, even to the man who does not enter its alcoves, contributes to the growth, expansion, and elevation of his mind.
He remembers, at least, that some men have
recognized that duty to the minds of their fellows, and it raises him for a moment.
Direct study is only half.
The influences we drink in as we live and move, do even more to mould us. It is not till these do their full work that the character is formed.
Argument is not half so strong as habit.
A truth is often proved long before it is felt.
A man is convinced long before he is converted.
Constant, habitual, and often slight influences give us shape and direction.
has. well said there is more truth than men think in Dogberry's solemn rebuke, “Masters, it is proved
already that you are little better than false knaves, and it will go near to be thought
I had supposed that I should have given place before this, to one who would have addressed you in detail, and more specifically, in reference to the plans which engage the attention of the public; but I do not see the gentleman who has been announced as one of the speakers this evening, Mr. J. A. Andrew
, before me, and perhaps, as we have reached the hour at which these meetings usually close, it will be proper for us to adjourn, leaving that particular branch of the subject untouched and fresh for your next session.
Perhaps indeed it does not become us, not members of the legislature, to volunteer our advice or opinion on topics that are before them.
But still it is to be remembered that, after all, public opinion, the opinion of all thoughtful men who have an interest in the growth and future of the Commonwealth
and of Boston
, is entitled to consideration; that all of us have a right to utter our wish, to express our earnest desire, that the State
should recognize, before it be too late, her duty in this respect; that she should save, while she may, this unexpected and large accession of wealth from the possibility of misuse, not let it slip from her hands till some great measures be -
accomplished,such measures as show us worthy, by noble thoughts, of these great trusts, for such wealth is a trust; that she should help the growth of her capital city, and with it that of the whole Commonwealth, by plans fitted for the highest culture of the people.
I welcome the action of the State
for another thing.
If we could snatch from dispersion, or from the purchase of some foreign capitalist, that magnificent collection which Catlin
has made for the history of the aboriginal races of this continent,--something that can never be replaced if it be once scattered and lost,--of which Boston
might fairly take the custody, as the nucleus of that ethnologic study of the races, languages, and epochs of the past history of the continent, and make New England
the centre, as that one collection would make it, of this inquiry and study, it would give a peculiar interest to our city, and a great impulse to a curious and valuable study.
I see before me some of the women of the Commonwealth
; and I remember that this very legislature has voted the funds of the State
for forty-eight scholarships for boys, to be instructed in our various institutions of learning.
I see no reason why, with the normal schools, the district schools, and the academies of the State
calling for teachers, and all departments of life calling for a more broad and liberal culture, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
should not raise forty-eight scholarships for the girls of the State
, so that they may enjoy the same liberal opportunities with her boys.
[Applause.] It seems to me that, in connection with these noble provisions for the growth of the adult intellect, the State
should remember the schools, and the various channels of woman's influence, and hold the balance even.
I value those open institutions of learning which it is proposed to establish on yonder bay, especially because they
will tempt women — I mean, in an especial sense, the women in easy circumstances, not obliged to labor for bread — to imitate the example of their English sisters on the other side of the Atlantic
, and make it fashionable to study the open pages of God's work as they are written out for them in the collections of museums and curiosities of the past.
, our social life, or what we call such, is a poor and vapid imitation of foreign manners,--so unlike the original no wonder some will doubt the propriety of my calling it an imitation.
Like an exotic laid on an unfit soil,--we cannot say planted
For the mere show and splendor, the luxurious pleasure, the prodigal display of social life, we have neither the wealth nor a large class of idle loungers to keep each other in countenance, and make such continual show possible.
Hence, what we call society is only a herd of boys and girls, tired with the day's lessons, or just emancipated from school, met to prattle of nothing, and eat and drink.
Selfishness and rude frolic, or tasteless bearing about of rich dress, and a struggle round groaning tables have usurped the place of conversation and manners.
Earnest life, the cares of business take up the full grown men; disgust and weariness keep women away; these last must either contract into idle gossips, or marry to be the drudges of a life aping wealthier levels.
Old prejudice shuts them out of active life.
No social life, worthy of the name, upholds them in that wide and liberal interest in thought and science, in great questions and civil interests, which made the French
woman a power in life and the State
, which once separated the Quaker
women from the level of their gayer sisters, which now crowds the lists of English literature with women, some of them the best thinkers, the greatest poets, and most faithful scholars in our mother-land.
Open these public
store-houses; gather these treasures of science into the lap of the State
, and see if we cannot create for our women a nobler career, and call into being a society which will refine life, and win men from cares that eat out everything lofty, and sensual pleasures that make them half brutes.
All these things work for us. They would make government unnecessary, so far as it is coercion.
I look upon these things as I do upon the windmills one sees all over the provinces of Holland
They have shut out the ocean with dykes; past ages built up the colossal structures which save Holland
from the wave.
So we have built up laws, churches, universities, to keep out from our garnered Commonwealth the flood of ignorance and passion and misrule.
But in morals as in Nature, the water which we press back upon the flood oozes daily through the mass; and the cunning Hollander
for centuries, remembering this law, has placed his picturesque and wide-spread sails to catch every breeze that sweeps through the country, and as fast as Nature lets the ocean ooze through his defences, the tireless windmills lift it and pour it back into the depths of the sea, and every breeze that hurries across the province at night tells the Dutchman, as he listens, that his home is safer for its passage.
So, while you wake or sleep, these stores and associations shall do the work for you which the winds do for Holland
As the floods of vice ooze back through your defences, they shall relieve you from the continual watching, and educate the people in spite of themselves, winning them to think, pointing them through Nature to her God, fortifying virtue by habits that render low stimulus needless, and developing the whole man.
I think we owe all this to posterity.
The generations that preceded us built ships, roads, cities, invented arts,
raised up manufactures, and left them to us. We inherit libraries and railways; we inherit factories and houses; we inherit the wealth and the industry and the culture of the past.
We do not do enough if we merely transmit that, or what is exactly like it, to the future.
No; he does not imitate his father who is just like his father, paradoxical as it may seem.
Every age that has preceded us in New England
has set its ingenuity to work to find out some wider, deeper, better, more liberal, and higher method of serving posterity.
, the Carvers, and the Brewsters left us churches, planned schools, common roads, and wooden houses.
The generation just gone have not only turned their wooden wharves into granite, their roads to iron, their spinning-wheels to factories that can clothe the earth in a month, but they have conquered space and the elements with steam, they have harnessed the lightning and sent it on errands; they have not only continued their churches, they have taken hold of the four corners of the earth with their societies for the education of the race.
It is for us so to be wise in our time, that posterity shall remember us also for some peculiar improvement upon the institutions of our fathers.
Inaugurate, then, this generation, by the avowal of the principle that private wealth has ceased to be; that it is mortgaged for the use of the public; that its office is not to breed up idlers, but to provide the broadest and most liberal means of education; that it takes the babe of poverty, and holds him in its careful hands, and pledges the skill and garnered wealth of the wealthiest to give him the very best possible culture of which the age is capable,--that Massachusetts
not only gives him the district schools and the normal school, she not only sees to it that his hands shall be educated to earn money, but when, with native tenacity,
he turns his attention wholly to the present, she opens her broad arms, she utters her tempting voice, she spreads before him the wonders of creation, lures him back from a narrow and sordid life, and bids him be a Massachusetts man, worthy of the past, and the apostle of a greater future.