Charles Henry Ham.

Manual training : the solution of social and industrial problems online

. (page 11 of 30)
Online LibraryCharles Henry HamManual training : the solution of social and industrial problems → online text (page 11 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ary, stagnates. In such a State there would be no occa-
sion for new words. If a constantly diminishing number
of objects were presented to the mind, speech would
become less and less necessary. If no new objects were
presented, no fresh impressions upon the mind would be
made, and speech would degenerate into a mere iteration.
If the hands should cease to labor in the arts, should
cease to make things, should cease to plant and gather,
the scope of speech would be still further restricted,
would be confined to an expression of the wants of sav-
ages subsisting on the native fruits of field and forest.

It comes to this, that progress can find expression only

* "And the great advances in science have uniformly corresponded
with the invention of some instrument by which the power of the
senses has been increased, or the range of action extended." "Phys-
iology of the Mind, "p. 8. By Henry Maudsley, M.D. New York:
D. Appleton & Co., 1883.


in the concrete. Guttenberg had an idea that lie could em-
ploy movable types in the production of books. Suppose
he had been content with the mere promulgation of his
theory in words, and that those who came after him had
been similarly content? There would have been no
printing-presses down to the present time. Suppose that
Watt and Stephenson and Fulton had been content with
the declaration, in words, of the discoveries they made
in regard to the application of the power of steam to
practical purposes, and that those who came after them
had been similarly content? There would have been
neither railways, nor steamships, nor steam-driven ma-
chinery of any kind down to the present time.

As words are essential to the processes of thought, so
objects are essential to words or living speech. And as
all objects made by man owe their existence to the hand,
it follows that the hand exerts an incalculable influence
upon the mind, and so constitutes the most potent agency
in the work of civilization. It was not without good
reason that Anaxagoras characterized man as the wisest
of animals because of his having hands. And what is it
to be wise ? To be wise is " to have the power of dis-
cerning and judging correctly, or of discriminating be-
tween what is true and what is false ; between what is
fit and proper and what is improper." The hand is used
as the synonym of wisdom because it is only in the con-
crete that the false is sure of detection, and it is through
the hand alone that ideas are realized in things.* Again
we have the hand as the discoverer of truth.

* "Let him [the youth] once learn to take a straight shaving off a
plank, or draw a fine curve without faltering, or lay a brick level in
its mortar, and he has learned a multitude of other matters which no


The assertion of the majesty of the hand by the Ionic
philosopher of the fourth century B. C. contained the
germ of the manual training idea of this latter part of
the nineteenth century. Anaxagoras was unconsciously,
no doubt, -struggling towards the light, towards the in-
ductive method of investigation, towards the sole avenue
through which it is possible to study the mind, namely,
through the body. The ignorance of the ancients on the
subject of physiology was so dense as to leave them no
resource save speculative philosophy. The progress
made in the study of anatomy, and organic and inorganic
chemistry at Alexandria, was, however, considerable. The
foundations of a systematic physiology were being secure-
ly laid by Hippocrates, llerophilus, and their compeers of
the medical profession, and the way was thus being open-
ed to an intelligent study of the mind. It is highly prob-
able that this growing disposition to investigate things,
together with the increasing importance to civilization
of the useful arts, would soon have reacted destructively
upon the speculative philosophy of the time had not a
series of national disasters, involving the fall of Greece
and Rome, overwhelmed both arts and philosophy in one
common ruin.

From the fall of Rome to the time of Bacon specu-
lative philosophy dominated the world. Progress dates
from the beginning of the seventeenth century, but it
was very slow until within a hundred years. Philosophy
has now, however, found a scientific basis. Instead of
speculating about the " theory of vitality," it concerns
itself with "the natural phenomena of living bodies, so

lips of man could ever teach him." "Time and Tide," p. 145. By
John Ruskin, LL.D. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1883.


far as they are appreciable by the human senses and in-

But the schools have not moved forward with events.
Their methods are unscientific ; they are still dominated
by the mediaeval ideas of speculative philosophy. One
of the ablest educators in this country has well observed
that "there has been very little change in the ideas
which have controlled our methods of education, and
these ideas were formed something like fonr hundred
years ago. Like nearly all the great agencies of modern
civilization, the established system of education dates
from the Renaissance, and the direction given to the
schools at that time has been followed with but slight
modification ever since."*

The justice of this arraignment of the schools for ex-
treme conservatism is shown by the remark of a promi-
nent educator who opposes the incorporation of manual
training in the curriculum of the public schools. He
says, " Some even go so far as to regard the fingers as a
new avenue to the brain, and think that great pedagogic
advantages will be given by the new method, so that
boys may make equal attainments in arithmetic, read-
ing, and grammar in less time. . . . They [teachers] will
still find the eye and ear nearer to the brain than the
hand." No assumption could be more false than this,
that the eye and the ear are more important organs than
the hand because they are located, physically, nearer the
brain. The attribute of mobility with which the hand is
endowed confers upon it not only the potency of the

* Mr. James MacAlister, Superintendent of Schools of the City of
Philadelphia, before the American Institute of Instruction at Sarato-
ga, July 13, 1882.


closest possible proximity, but each of the countless po-
sitions it may assume, together with its flexibility and
adaptability, multiplies its powers in the order of a geo-
metrical ratio.

This disposition to undervalue the hand is an inheri-
tance from the speculative philosophy of the Middle
Ages, which was based on contempt of the body and all
its members. The effect of this false doctrine has been
vicious in the extreme. Contempt for the body has gen-
erated a feeling of contempt for manual labor, and repug-
nance to manual labor has multiplied dishonest practices
in the course of the struggle to acquire wealth by any
other means than manual labor, and so corrupted society.

That man should feel contempt for the most efficient
member of his own body is, indeed, incomprehensible,
since contempt for the hand leads logically to contempt
for its works, and its works comprise all the visible
results of civilization. To enumerate the works of the
hand would be to describe the world as it at present ex-
ists in contradistinction to the world in a state of nature.
Everywhere we behold with admiration and wonder the
marvellous triumphs of the hand, from the iron bridge
that spans the torrent of Niagara to the steel microm-
eter that measures the millionth part of an inch. It
matters not whether the hand is nearer or farther from
the brain than the eye and the ear, it is able to afford
powerful aid to .them.

Man would explore the planetary system ; he lifts his
longing eyes to the starry vault, but in vain ; it is a
sealed book ! The hand fashions the telescope, adjusts
it, places it at a convenient angle, and the milky way is
resolved into millions of stars, " scattered like glittering
dust on the black ground of the general heavens," the



lunar mountains are measured, and the spots on the sun
revealed. Man would study the anatomy and habits of the
myriads of insects in which the teeming earth abounds.
Impossible ! The mechanism of the eye is not adapted
to such a delicate operation. But the hand presents the
microscope, and a world of hitherto unknown minute ex-
istences is revealed with a distinctness which permits the
most exhaustive investigation. Thus, through the aid of
the hand, the eye now contemplates with philosophic
interest the ever-changing aspect of the spots on the sun
at a distance of ninety million miles, and now imprisons
the red ant, measuring only y^-g- of an inch in length, and
studies its physiology, counting its pulsations, classifying
its nerves and muscles, and weighing its brain. Man
would speak with his friend or business correspondent
miles away. Neither the voice nor the ear is adapted to
the task. But the hand fashions and presents the tele-
phone, and the conversation proceeds even in a whisper.
It will be said that the mind devises the telescope, the mi-
croscope, and the telephone. True, but their construction
would be impossible without the hand. And is it at all
probable that the mind would have devised these admira-
ble instruments if man had been made without hands ?*

* "The hand is the most marvellous instrument in the world; it is
the necessary complement of the mind in dealing with matter in all
its varied forms. It is the hand that 'rounded Peter's dome;' it is
the hand that carved those statues in marble and bronze, that painted
those pictures in palace and church, which we travel into distant
lands to admire; it is the hand that builds the ships which sail the
sea, laden with the commerce of the world ; it is the hand that con-
structs the machinery which moves the busy industries of this age of
steam; it is the hand that enables the mind to realize in a thousand
ways its highest imaginings, its profoundest reasonings, and its most
practical inventions." Mr. James MacAlister, Superintendent of
Schools of the City of Philadelphia, before the American Institute of
Instruction at Saratoga, July 13, 1882.



The Legend of Adam and the Stick with which he subdued the Ani-
mals. The Stick is the Symbol of Power, and only the Hand can
wield it. The Hand imprisons Steam and Electricity, and keeps
them at hard Labor. The Destitution of England Two Hundred
and Fifty Years ago : a Pen Picture. -^The Transformation wrought
by the Hand : a Pen Picture. It is due, not to Men who make
Laws, but to Men who make Things. The Scientist and the In-
ventor are the World's Benefactors. A Parallel between the Right
Honorable William E. Gladstone and Sir Henry Bessemer. Mr.
Gladstone a Man of Ideas, Mr. Bessemer a Man of Deeds. The
Value of the latter's Inventions. Mr. Gladstone represents the Old
Education, Mr. Bessemer the New.

IT has been remarked that man is the wisest of animals
because he has hands. It is equally true that he is the
most powerful of animals because he has hands. It is
with the hand that man has subdued all the animals.
There is a legend to the effect that on the day when
Adam revolted against his Maker, the animals, in their
turn, revolted against him, and ceased to obey him.
"Adam called on the Lord for help, and the Lord com-
manded him to take a branch from the nearest tree and
make of it a weapon, and strike with it the first animal
that should refuse to obey him. Adam seized the branch,
the leaves fell from it of their own accord, and he found
himself furnished with a stick proportioned to hi&
height. When the animals saw this weapon in the hands
of the man they were seized with an instinctive fear
mingled with wonder, and they did not dare to attack


him. A lion alone, bolder than the rest, leaped upon
him to devour him, but Adam, who stood upon his
guard, swift as lightning whirled his stick and felled him
to the earth with a single blow ! At this sight the terror
of the other animals was so great that they approached
him trembling, and in token of their submission licked
the stick that he held in his hand."*

Throughout all the early ages the stick was both the
symbol and the instrument of power ; and it is only the
hand that can grasp and wield the stick. The early
kings reigned by virtue of the strong arm and the supple
hand. They claimed to be descended from Hercules,
and their emblem of power was a knotty stick. Nor
does empire depend less upon the hand now than it did
in the morning of time.

The hand no longer grasps the knotty stick; it no
longer menaces mankind. It wields the mechanical pow-
ers. It imprisons steam and electricity, and keeps them
at hard labor. It makes ploughs, planters, harvesters,
sewing-machines, locomotives, and steamships. It digs
canals, opens mines, builds bridges, makes roads, erects
mills and factories, constructs harbors and docks, reclaims
waste lands, and covers the globe with tracks of steel
over which the commerce of the world is borne.

Two hundred and fifty years ago England was desti-
tute of most of these things. It had then no good dirt
roads even, no good bridges, no canals, no public works
worth mentioning, and scarcely any manufactories of
importance. The post-bags were carried on horseback

* "The Story of the Stick," p. 2. Translated and Adapted from
the French of Antony Real [Pernand Michel]. New York: J. "W.
Bouton, 1875.


once a week. The highways were besieged by robbers.
One-fifth of the community were paupers. Mechanics
worked for from sixpence to a shilling a day. The chief
food of the poor was rye, barley, or oats. The people
were ignorant and brutal " masters beat their servants,
and husbands beat their wives. Teachers used the lash as
the principal means of imparting knowledge. The mob
rejoiced in fights of all kinds, and shouted with glee
when an eye was torn out or a finger chopped off in
these savage encounters. Executions were favorite pub-
lic amusements. The prisons were full, and proved to be
fruitful nurseries of crime."

From little better than a wilderness, and almost a
state of savagery, England has been transformed into a
fruitful field, and its people raised in the scale of civ-
ilization. Its public works are the admiration of the
world ; its coffers are full of gold ; its strong boxes are
piled high with evidences of the indebtedness of other
nations ; its ships plough the billows of every sea, and
bear the commerce of every land ; and its manufactories
of vast extent are monuments of inventive genius, in-
dustry, perseverance, and skill, more imposing far than
the pyramids of Egypt or the temples of Greece and

To whom do the people of England and of the world
owe this national progress, this progress in the useful
arts .on a scale so colossal as, by comparison, to dwarf
the achievements of all the earlier epochs of history?
Not to statesmen or legislators. They neither dig ca-
nals, open mines, build railways, lay ocean cables, nor
erect factories. The pen in their hands may be mightier
than the sword ; but it is no match for the plough and
the reaper, the electric battery and imprisoned steam.


Legislators make laws but mechanics make things. On
this subject, after an exhaustive investigation, Buckle
says, " Seeing, therefore, that the efforts of government
in favor of civilization are, when most successful, alto-
gether negative, and seeing, too, that when these efforts
are more than negative they become injurious, it clear-
ly follows that all speculations must be erroneous which
ascribe the progress of Europe to the wisdom of its
rulers. This is an inference which rests not only on the
arguments already adduced^ but on facts which might be
multiplied from every page of history. . . . We have
seen that their laws in favor of industry have injured
industry, that their laws in favor of religion have in-
creased hypocrisy, and that their laws to secure truth
have encouraged perjury. . . . But it is a mere matter
of history that our legislators, even to the last moment,
were so terrified by the idea of innovation that they re-
fused every reform until the voice of the people rose
high enough to awe them into submission, and forced
them to grant what, without much pressure, they would
by no means have conceded."*

It is, then, clearly not to the men who make laws that
we are indebted for progress in civilization, but to the
men who make things. The scientist who discovers a
new principle in physics is a public benefactor. The
inventor who devises a new machine helps forward the
cause of progress. Whitney's cotton-gin trebled the
value of the cotton-fields of the South. The mechanic
who constructs a machine that will make ten or a hun-
dred things in the time before required to make one

* "History of Civilization in England," Vol. I., pp. 204, 205, 361
By Henry Thomas Buckle. New York : D. Applet on & Co.


thing is in the front rank of the civilizers of the human

Inventors, not statesmen, rule the world through their
machines, which augment man's powers and sharpen his
senses. Steam has made all civilized countries prosper-
ous and great by vastly increasing man's powers by
making him hundred-handed. f

In 1809 there was born to a distinguished baronet of
Liverpool, England, a son. The boy was educated at
Eton and Christ Church College, Oxford, graduating in
1831. In 1832 the young man entered Parliament. In
1834 he took office under Sir Robert Peel. The name
of the young man who commenced life under such
auspicious circumstances is William Ewart Gladstone.
For nearly half a century Mr. Gladstone has been a prom-
inent figure in English politics and administration. Dur-
ing this long period of time he has been in the eye of the
world, so to speak. He has moulded the laws of an em-
pire, repealed old statutes and made new statutes, largely
influenced both the domestic and the foreign policy of a
great nation, and exerted a considerable degree of con-

* "Your wealth, your amusement, your pride, would all be alike
impossible, but for those whom you scorn or forget. . . . The sailor
wrestling with the sea's rage ; the quiet student poring over his book
or his vial ; the common worker, without praise, and nearly without
bread, fulfilling his task as your horses drag your carts, hopeless,
and spurned of all : these are the men by whom England lives."
" Sesame and Lilies," p. 68. By John Ruskin, LL.D. New York :
John Wiley & Sons, 1884.

f ' ' The causes which most disturbed or accelerated the normal
progress of society in antiquity were the appearance of great men ;
in modern times they have been the appearance of great inventions."
"History of European Morals," Vol. I., p. 126. By William Ed-
ward Hartpole Lecky, M. A. New York : D. Appleton & Co.


trol over the international affairs of the continent of

In 1813, four years after the birth of Mr. Gladstone,
at Charlton, in Hertfordshire, England, Henry Bessemer
was born. His father, Anthony Bessemer, had fled to
England in 1792, a refugee from France. Henry Besse-
mer's early training consisted of the rudiments of an
ordinary education received in the parish school of the
neighboring town of Hitchin. His father was a skilled
mechanic and inventor, and Henry inherited the invent-
ive faculty. He studied and practised the art of wood-
turnery, producing, before arriving at the age of man-
hood, the most difficult patterns known to the art.

At the age of eighteen, in the year 1831 the year in
which Mr. Gladstone completed his education young
Bessemer appeared in London, an obscure, unknown
stranger. He, however, secured employment as a mod-
eller and designer. His attention was soon directed to
the imperfections of government stamps, in which there
had been no improvement since the time of Queen Anne.
He was informed by Sir Charles Persley, of the Stamp-
office, that the frauds in stamps probably aggregated
one hundred thousand pounds per annum. In the even-
ings of a few months he invented and made an im-
proved stamp which obviated the objections to the one
then in use. The invention was at once adopted by the
Stamp-office, and in lieu of a stipulated sum in payment
therefor, young Bessemer was asked " whether he would
be satisfied with the position of superintendent of stamps,
with five hundred or six hundred pounds per annum ?"
The suggested appointment he agreed to accept. Mean-
time, before the contemplated change occurred in the
Stamp-office, the young inventor devised a further im-


provement in the new stamp, which not only made it much
more perfect, but rendered it unnecessary for the govern-
ment to employ a superintendent of stamps. In perfect
good faith young Bessemer exhibited to the chief of the
Stamp-office his new stamp, which was so palpably an im-
provement on the other that it was at once preferred and
promptly adopted. What is more, the government not
only declined to appoint the inventor to a place, but de-
clined to give him a penny for his invention. This was in
1834, the year in which Mr. Gladstone entered upon his
long career as a representative of the British Crown. As
young Mr. Gladstone was entering the Treasury, its "jun-
ior lord," young Mr. Bessemer was retiring from it an
unsuccessful suitor for the just reward of genius and toil.
He says, " Thus sad and dispirited, and with a burning
sense of injustice overpowering all other feelings, I went
my way from the Stamp-office, too proud to ask as a fa-
vor that which was indubitably my right."*

From this point, both of time and event, there is a
very wide divergence in the lives of these great men.
The one is a man of ideas, the other a man of deeds.
Mr. Gladstone thinks, talks, makes treaties and laws. He
is constantly in the public eye, and his name ever on the
public tongue. -He is regarded as a great financier; he
is certainly a great orator. He sways the multitude with
his eloquence. He takes distinguished part in the wordy
contests which occur every now and then in Parliament.
These debates are much talked of. At the conclusion
of one of them there is a vote of want of confidence,
and Mr. Gladstone goes out of office and Mr. Dis-

* "The Creators of the Age of Steel," p. 20. By W. T. Jeans.
New York : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1884.


raeli comes in. At the conclusion of another of them
there is a vote of want of confidence, and Mr. Disraeli
goes out of office and Mr. Gladstone comes in. But
whether Mr. Gladstone goes out and Mr. Disraeli comes
in, or Mr. Disraeli goes out and Mr. Gladstone comes in,
makes very little difference with the trade and commerce
of the kingdom. The railway traffic continues in the
one event or the other ; the steamers continue to cross
and recross the ocean ; the " post " comes and goes ; the
electric current continues to act as messenger-boy; the
telephone brings us face to face with our business corre-
spondent or friend. There is, indeed, no reason why a vote
of want of confidence in Mr. Gladstone or Mr. Disraeli
should imply a want of confidence in steam or electricity,
because neither Mr. Gladstone nor Mr. Disraeli ever have
anything to do with the application of these great forces
to the uses of man. They are entirely absorbed, the
one in promoting the advancement of Liberalism, and
the other in promoting the advancement of Toryism.
And it is a curious fact, as showing the mutability of
political opinion, that Mr. Disraeli entered public life as
a Liberal, and subsequently became a great Tory leader ;
and Mr. Gladstone entered public life as a Tory, and sub-
sequently became a great Liberal leader.

For twenty -two years after he had retired empty-
handed from the government Stamp-office Mr. Bessemer
continued his career as an inventor and manufacturer,
without, however, attracting any great share of public
attention. But in 1856 he announced that he had made
a discovery of vast importance in the process of steel
making.* For a hundred years previously the Huntsman

* " The first patent of Sir H. Bessemer in which air is mentioned


process had held the field. It yielded excellent steel but
was very expensive. Mr. Bessemer announced that he

Online LibraryCharles Henry HamManual training : the solution of social and industrial problems → online text (page 11 of 30)