Charles Henry Ham.

Manual training : the solution of social and industrial problems online

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without labor, to live by speculative enterprises, becomes
a consuming passion, inoculating with a deeper and dark-
er degree of selfishness an ever-widening circle of people ;
and selfishness at last inevitably leads to anarchy. It
leads to anarchy and chaos because both classes of society
become depraved the rich and powerful through indo-
lence and sensual indulgence, and the poor and wretched
through ignorance and privation and their attendant
mean vices.

The modern city is the despair of the modern political
economist. It grows relatively faster in population than
the rural district, and it would be the extreme of opti-
mism to declare that it grows better. It does not matter
that the city is the centre of learning, the nursery of all
the active intelligences which are achieving fresh tri-
umphs daily in every department of science, literature,
and art. It is also the centre of vice, and the nursery
of every variety of crime.

The difficulty nay, the despair of the situation is
not relieved or mitigated by the undisputed fact that the
ancient city was much worse morally and politically than
the modern city, and hence that as between Rome and


Chicago there is an immense moral and political advan-
tage in favor of the latter. If Chicago is retrograding
morally and politically, what is to prevent it from sinking
to the moral and political status of Rome under the in-
famous emperors of the period of its decadence ? If the
modern American city is rapidly degenerating, both as a
moral force and a political institution, what is to arrest
its downward progress ? "What influence is to intervene
to reverse the order and nature of its development ?

Rome, in the very agonies of political dissolution, pos-
sessed all the then known arts, a splendid literature, and
a school of philosophy whose ethical code was more lofty,
if less human, than that of the new system which was
struggling to replace the old. That the inconceivably
atrocious gladiatorial games should have developed into
such huge proportions in conjunction with the sublime
moral teachings of Seneca, Plutarch, Marcus Aurelius,
and a score of others, is the despair of students of Roman
history. "While they taught, emperors and people alike
feasted their eyes on bloody orgies of men and beasts,
on scenes of the most horrible barbarity. Caligula took
special delight in watching the countenances of the dy-
ing, " for he had learned to take an artistic pleasure in
observing the variations of their agony." Criminals
dressed in the skins of wild beasts were thrown to bulls
which were maddened with red-hot irons. " Four hundred
bears were killed in a single day under Caligula ; three
hundred on another day under Claudius. Under Nero,
four hundred tigers fought with bulls and elephants ; four
hundred bears and three hundred lions were slaughtered
by his soldiers. In a single day, at the dedication of the
Colosseum by Titus, five thousand animals perished. Un-
der Trajan the games continued for one hundred and


twenty-three successive days. Lions, tigers, rhinoceroses,
hippopotami, giraffes, bulls, stags, even crocodiles and ser-
pents, were employed to give novelty to the spectacle."

And yet the civilization that produced these games
gave to the world forever the moral precepts of the stoics
and philosophers. Cicero had maintained the doctrine
of the universal brotherhood of man. "Nature ordains,"
he says, " that a man should wish the good of every man,
whoever he may be, for this very reason : that he is a
man." Menauder maintained that "man should deem
nothing human foreign to his interest." Lucan looked
forward to the time when "the human race will cast
aside its weapons, and all nations learn to love." In a
letter on the death of his slaves Pliny exhibited feelings
of strong human affection, and Plutarch, in a letter of
consolation to his wife on the death of his daughter, left
a touching record of the tenderness of his heart in the
recital of a simple trait of the child: "She desired her
nurse to press even her dolls to the breast. She was so
loving that she wished everything that gave her pleasure
to share in the best that she had." Says Seneca, " The
whole universe which you see around you, comprising all
things both divine and human, is one. We are members
of one great body." And Epictetus, " You are a citizen
and a part of the world. The duty of a citizen is in
nothing to consider his own interest distinct from that
of others."

The contrast presented by these noble moral sentiments
to the actual life of the Roman people is truly startling.
It is plain that the profession of lofty moral sentiments
by a class, the possession of high literary attainments,
and an extensive acquaintance with the arts, do not al-
ways afford protection against national degradation and


decay. Nor is it by any means certain that the Christian
religion is destined to effect more in this regard than the
pagan code of morals. Rome embraced religion, but its
conversion was powerless to avert political and commer-
cial destruction.

The modern city has for guides the example of all the
ancient civilizations and political and moral systems, and
in addition it has in its most vital form the Christian
system of morals and faith. But notwithstanding all
these helps it is politically corrupt and morally depraved.
Its streets are the scenes of vice scarcely less revolting
than those of ancient Rome. It harbors an army of
criminals which grows with its growth, and is without
any systematized effort either to reform or abolish it.
Indeed this army of criminals is constantly reinforced in
an increasing ratio to the whole population from the ranks
of the rising generation, which is to a degree enforced to
ignorance by the inadequacy of educational facilities.*
Its power to accumulate wealth is increasing, but this
power is confined to relatively fewer hands, and this is
one of the most alarming features of the situation. For
the increase of ignorance, vice, and crime is sure to keep
pace with the abnormal growth of estates, stimulated to
the highest degree by dishonest business practices and
gigantic schemes of speculation.

It does not follow because prevailing methods of edu-

* In support of the truth of these propositions it is sufficient merely
to allude to the late disclosures by the Pall Mall Gazette of the prev-
alence of revolting crimes in London, England. It is also pertinent
to remark the attitude of hostility maintained by the higher classes
(so called) of the English people towards the editor of the journal in
which the disclosures \vere made, as significant of an alarming de-
generation of the moral sense of the British public.


cation promote the spirit of selfishness, and hence contain
the seeds of social and moral decay, that they are wholly
vicious; but it does follow, if they are not positively
wrong, that they are negatively wrong. Let us assume
that they are only negatively wrong, that they lack an
essential element in all mental and moral training the
manual element ; and let us try to discover what would
be the effect of the incorporation of this element into
the curriculum of the schools.

A system of education consisting exclusively of men-
tal exercises promotes selfishness because such training is
subjective. Its effects flow inward; they relate to self.
All mental acquirements become a part of self, and so
remain forever, unless they are transmuted into things
through the agency of the hand.

It is through the hand alone that the mind finally im-
presses itself upon matter. In other words, thought and
speech must be incarnate in things or they are dead.
The orator appeals to the people to strike for their
rights ; the people rend the air with shouts and subside
into silence. The orator cries, " To Arms !" Again the
people shout, and again subside into silence. The ora-
tor's thoughts are of carnage, his words of flames, but
they are as dead as if never conceived and uttered be-
cause no hand is raised to embody them in deeds.

Manual training, on the other hand, promotes altruism
because it is objective. Its effects flow outward ; they
relate not to self but to the human race. The skilled
hand confers benefits upon man, and each benefit so
conferred exerts the natural reflex moral influence of
a good act upon the mind of the benefactor.*

* "And now I would point out how the occupations of the work-


Morality is not a mere sentiment, a barren ideality. It
is true there is a negative morality which consists in
refraining from the commission of wrongful acts. But
the morality of the great ethical teachers is positive ; it
consists in doing. Christ said, " Inasmuch as ye have
done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye
have done it unto me." "Words without acts are as dead
as faith without works. Paul said, " Though 1 have all
faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not
charity, I am nothing."

Morality is a vital principle whose exemplification con-
sists in doing justice ; and justice is that virtue " which
consists in giving to every one what is his due; practical
conformity to the laws and to principles of rectitude in

shop and the atelier combined tend to establish in the mind of the
pupil an unselfish and impersonal standard of valuation which -will
prepare him admirably for the truer moral estimate of life. For days,
and perhaps for weeks, he labors to convert a formless material into
a form illustrating mathematical truth or aesthetic harmony. He
undergoes protracted toil, and meets perhaps with many failures and
disappointments, in order to be rewarded at last by what ? Simply
by realizing in some degree that perfectness of the object which he
aimed at from the beginning. His work is devoid of any pecuniary
value. It is a mere typical form. Its worth consists in being true
or in being beautiful. And a habit is thus formed of judging things
in general according to their intrinsic rather than their superficial
qualities. Gradually, and almost insensibly, the analogy of the work
performed on outward objects will be applied to inward experience.
. . . Thus while he is shaping the typical objects which the instructor
proposes to him as a task, while he pores silently, persistently, and
lovingly over these objects, reaching success by dint of gradual ap-
proximation, he is, at the same time, shaping his own character, and
a tendency of mind is created from which will eventually result the
loftiest and purest morality." Prof. Felix Adler, Princeton Review,
March, 1882.


the dealings of men with each other ; honesty, integrity
in commerce or mutual intercourse." It follows that
morality can no more be acquired by memorizing a series
of maxims than the art of using tools can be acquired by
studying the laws of mechanics and of mechanism.



The Mind and the Hand are Allies ; the Mind speculates, the Hand
tests its Speculations in Things. The Hand explodes the Errors of
the Mind it searches after Truth and finds it in Things. Mental
Errors are subtile ; they elude us, but the False in Things stands self-
exposed. The Hand is the Mind's Moral Rudder. The Organ of
Touch the most Wonderful of the Senses; all the Others are Pas-
sive ; it alone is Active. Sir Charles Bell's Discovery of a " Muscular
Sense." Dr. Henry Maudsley on the Muscular Sense. The Hand
influences the Brain. Connected Thought impossible without Lan-
guage, and Language dependent upon Objects; and all Artificial
Objects are the Work of the Hand. Progress is therefore the Im-
print of the Hand upon Matter in Art. The Hand is nearer the
Brain than are the Eye and the Ear. The Marvellous Works of
the Hand.

A PURELY mental acquirement is a theorem some-
thing to be proved. As to whether the theorem is sus-
ceptible of proof is always a question until the doubt is
solved by the act of doing. Hence Comenius's definition
of education " Let those things that have to be done be
learned by doing them"- is profoundly philosophical,
since nothing can be fully learned without the final act
of doing, owing to the fact of the incompleteness of all
theoretical knowledge.

The mind and the hand are natural allies. The mind
speculates, the hand tests the speculations of the mind by
the law of practical application. The hand explodes the
errors of the mind, for it inquires, so to speak, by the act
of doing, whether or not a given theorem is demonstra-


ble in the form of a problem. The hand is, therefore,
not only constantly searching after the truth, but is cor
stantly finding it.* It is possible for the mind to indulge
in false logic, to make the worse appear the better rea-
son, without instant exposure. But for the hand to work
falsely is to produce a misshapen thing tool or machine
which in its construction gives the lie to its maker.
Thus the hand that is false to truth, in the very act
publishes the verdict of its own guilt, exposes itself to
contempt and derision, convicts itself of unskilfulness or
of dishonesty.

There is no escaping the logical conclusion of an in-
vestigation into the relations existing between the mind
and the hand. The hand is scarcely less the guide than
the agent of the mind. It steadies the mind. It is
the mind's moral rudder, its balance-wheel. It is the
mind's monitor. It is constantly appealing to the mind,
by its acts, to " hew to the line, let the chips fly where
they may."

Dr. George Wilson says, " In many respects the organ
of touch, as embodied in the hand, is the most wonderful
of the senses. The organs of the other senses are pas-
sive ; the organ of touch alone is active. . . . The hand
selects what it shall touch, and touches what it pleases.
It puts away from it the things which it hates, and beck-
ons towards it the things which it desires. . . . More-

* " In other cases, even by the strictest attention, it is not possible
to give complete or strict truth in words. We could not, by any
number of words, describe the color of a ribbon so as to enable a
mercer to match it without seeing it. But an ' accurate ' colorist can
convey the required intelligence at once, with a tint on paper."
' ' The Laws of Feesole, " Vol. I. , p. 7. By John Ruskin, LL. D. New
York: John Wiley & Sons, 1879.


over, the hand cares not only for its own wants, but when
the other organs of the senses are rendered useless takes
their duties upon it. ... The blind man reads with
his hand, the dumb man speaks with it ; it plucks the
flower for the nostril, and supplies the tongue with ob-
jects of taste. Not less amply does it give expression to
the wit, the genius, the will, the power of man. Put a
sword into it and it will fight, a plough and it will till, a
harp and it will play, a pencil and it will paint, a pen and
it will speak. What, moreover, is a ship, a railway, a
light-house, or a palace what indeed is a whole city, a
whole continent of cities, all the cities of the globe, nay
the very globe itself, so far as man has changed it, but
the work of that giant hand with which the human race,
acting as one mighty man, has executed his will."*

There is a philosophical explanation of the versatility
of the hand so graphically portrayed in the foregoing
passage, and it is found in Sir Charles Bell's great discov-
ery of a " muscular sense." The principle of this discov-
ery is that " there are distinct nerves of sensation and of
motion or volition one set bearing messages from the
body to the brain, and the other from the brain or will
to the body. "

In his work on the hand, after reviewing the line of
argument which led to his discovery, Sir Charles says,
" By such arguments I have been in the habit of show-
ing that we possess a muscular sense, and that without it
we could have no guidance of the frame. We could not
command our muscles in standing, far less in walking,
leaping, or running, had we not a perception of the con-

* "The Five Gateways of Knowledge," p. 121. By George Wil-
son, M.D., F.R.S.E. London: Macmillau & Co., 1881.


dition of the muscles previous to the exercise of the will.
And as for the hand, it is not more the freedom of its
action which constitutes its perfection, than the knowl-
edge which we have of these motions, and our conse-
quent ability to direct it with the utmost precision."*

On the influence of the muscular sense, Dr. Henry
Maudsley has these pertinent observations :

" Those who would degrade the body, in order, as they
imagine, to exalt the mind, should consider more deeply
than they do the importance of our muscular expressions
of feeling. The manifold shades and kinds of expression
which the lips present their gibes, gambols, and flashes
of merriment ; the quick language of a quivering nostril ;
the varied waves and ripples of beautiful emotion which
play on the human countenance, with the spasms of pas-
sion that disfigure it all which we take such pains to
embody in art are simply effects of muscular action.
. . . Fix the countenance in the pattern of a particular
emotion in a look of anger, of wonder, or of scorn and
the emotion whose appearance is thus imitated will not fail
to be aroused. And if we try, while the features are fixed
in the expression of one passion, to call up in the mind a
quite different one, we shall find it impossible to do so.
. . . We perceive, then, that the muscles are not alone the
machinery by which the mind acts upon the world, but
that their actions are essential elements in our mental op-
erations. The superiority of the human over the animal
mind seems to be essentially connected with the great-
er variety of muscular action of which man is capable ;

* "The Hand : its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as Evinc-
ing Design," p. 151. By Sir Charles Bell, K.G.H., F.E.S., L. and E.
Harper & Brothers, 1864.



were he deprived of the infinitely varied movements of
hands, tongue, larynx, lips, and face, in which he is so far
ahead of the animals, it is probable that he would be no
better than an idiot, notwithstanding he might have a
normal development of brain."*

It is through the muscular sense that the hand influ-
ences the brain. According to Sir Charles the hand acts
first. It telegraphs, for example, that it is ready to grasp
the chisel or the sledge-hammer, or seize the pen, where-
upon the brain telegraphs back precise directions as to
the work to be done. These messages to and fro are
lightning-like flashes of intelligence, which blend or fuse
all the powers of the man, both mental and physical, and
inform and inspire the mass with vital force, f

Through constant use the muscular sense is sharpened
to a marvellous degree of fineness, and the hand, perme-
ated by it, forms habits which react powerfully upon the
mind. If, now, during the period of childhood and youth,
the hand is exercised in the useful and beautiful arts, its
muscular sense will be developed normally, or in the di-

* "Body and Mind," p. 32. By Henry Maudsley, M.D. New
York: D. Appleton & Co., 1883.

f The goldsmith's art was one of the finest among the ancients,
and so continued far into the Middle Ages. The cutting of cameos,
for example, required the highest skill and produced the most ex-
quisite results. Mr. Ruskin calls attention to the fact that "all the
great early Italian masters of painting and sculpture, without ex-
ception, began by being goldsmiths' apprentices;" and that "they
felt themselves so indebted to, and formed by, the master crafts-
man who had mainly disciplined their fingers, whether in -work on
gold or marble, that they practically considered him their father,
and took his name rather than their own." "Fors Clavigera,"
Part III., p. 291. By John Ruskin, LL.D. New York: John
Wiley & Sons, 1881.


rection of rectitude, and the reflex effect of this growth
upon the mind will be beneficent.

It is thus that the trained hand comes at last to foresee,
as it were, that a false proposition is surely destined to
be exploded. The habit of rectitude gives it prescience.
It invariably discovers, sooner or later, that a false prop-
osition, when embodied in wood or iron, becomes a con-
spicuous abortion, involving in disgrace both the designer
and the maker. A false proposition in the abstract may
be rendered very alluring; a false proposition in the
concrete is always hideous. One of the chief effects of
manual training is, then, the discovery and development
of truth ; and truth, in its broadest signification, is merely
another name for justice ; and justice is the synonym of

It has been shown that thought and speecli are dead
unless embodied in things. It may also be asserted with
confidence that man would lose the power of speech al-
most wholly if his words should cease to be realized in
things. Mr. Darwin declares that "a complex train of
thought can no more be carried on without the aid of
words, whether spoken or silent, than a long calculation
without the use of figures or algebra."* And Dr. Mauds-
ley says, "But neither these instances nor the case of
Laura Bridgman can be used to prove that it is possible
to think without any means of physical expression. On
the contrary the evidence is all the other way. The deaf
and dumb man invents his own signs, which he draws
from the nature of objects, seizing the most striking out-
line, or the principal movement of an action, and using

* "The Descent of Man," p. 88. By Charles Darwin, M.A. New
York : D. Appleton & Co., 1881.


them afterwards as tokens to represent the objects. The
deaf and dumb gesticulate also as they think ; and Laura
Bridgman's fingers worked, making the initial movements
for letters of the finger alphabet, not only during her
working thoughts, but in her dreams. If we substitute
for 'names' the motor intuitions, or take care to com-
prise in language all the modes of expressing thoughts,
whether verbal, vocal writing, or gesture language, then
it is unquestionable that thought is impossible without

As connected thoughts are impossible without words,
or signs of words, so words are dependent upon objects
for their existence. Says Dr. Maudsley, " Words cannot
attain to definiteness save as living outgrowths of reali-
ties.'^ And Heyse says, " Thought is not even present
to the thinker till he has set it forth out of himself."

It follows that language has its origin not less in ex-
ternal objects than in the mind. Objects make impres-
sions upon the mind through the senses, and words serve
as the means of preserving a record of such impressions
and of communicating them to other minds. If, now,
the mind should cease to receive impressions, language
would no longer be required, since there would be noth-
ing to express ; and the occasion for the use of language
ceasing to exist, the power of speech would ultimately be
lost. The power of speech, then, depends upon a con-

* "Physiology of the Mind," p. 480. By Henry Maudsley, M.D.
New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1883.

f "I therefore declare my conviction, "says Max Milller, "whether
right or wrong, as explicitly as possible, that thought in one sense
of the word, i.e., in reasoning, is impossible without language."
"Physiology of the Mind," p. 480. By Henry Maudsley, M.D.
New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1883.


tinuous succession of impressions made upon the mind
by its contact, through the senses, with matter in its
various forms, whether in nature or in art.

It may also be claimed that the power of speech de-
pends almost entirely upon the endless succession of
fresh objects presented to the mind by the hand. These
form the subject as well as the occasion of speech. If
the hand should cease to make new things, new words
would cease to be required. The principal changes in
language arise out of new discoveries in science and new
inventions in art, each fresh discovery of science giving
rise to many new things in art. Art and science react
upon each other."" The growth of a State, its advance
in the scale of civilization, depends upon progress in the
practical arts. Hence the fact that, when a State ceases
to advance, its language ceases to grow, becomes station-

Online LibraryCharles Henry HamManual training : the solution of social and industrial problems → online text (page 10 of 30)