were necessary for poor children, reading
vi NATIONAL EDUCATION 97
and writing for the details of business, and
arithmetic in order to keep accounts.
This view was extended to all departments
of business. Lord Eldon is reported to have
selected his bankers (who must have been very
different from the present members of the
firm) because, he said, they were the stupidest
bankers in London, and that if he could find
any stupider he would move his account.
Hazlitt maintained that boys who were in-
tended for business should not be taught any-
thing else. Any one, he said, "will make
money if he has no other idea in his head."
That is the second stage.
Now we advocate Education, not merely to
make the man the better workman, but the
workman the better man. Victor Hugo well
said that "he who opens a school, closes a
" Most of our children," said a Swiss states-
man, " are born to poverty, but we take care
that they shall not grow up to ignorance."
We also, in England, are now beginning to
appreciate the importance of education. Gray
could not now say of our rural population that
98 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
"... Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Bich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll ;
Chill penury repressed their noble rage
And froze the genial current of the soul."
Matthew Arnold tells us in his Culture and
Anarchy that there are still many who think
that culture and sweetness and light are all
moonshine. But this was written in 1869.
The year 1870, the year of the passing of
the Education Act, was a most important
epoch in the social history of our country.
At that time the number of children in our
elementary schools was 1,400,000. It is now
over 5,000,000. And what has been the re-
sult ? First let me take the criminal statis-
tics. Up to 1887 the number of persons in
prison showed a tendency to increase. In
that year the average number was 20,800.
Since then it has steadily decreased, and now
is only 13,000. It has, therefore, diminished
in round numbers by one-third. But we
must remember that the population has been
steadily increasing. Since 1870 it has in-
creased by one-third. If our criminals had
increased in the same proportion, they would
vi NATIONAL EDUCATION 99
have been 28,000 instead of 13,000, or more
than double. In that case then, our expendi-
ture on police and prisons would have been at
least 8,000,000 instead of 4,000,000. In
juvenile crime the decrease is even more satis-
factory. In 1856 the number of young per-
sons committed for indictable offences was
14,000. In 1866 it had fallen to 10,000 ; in
1876 to 7000 ; in 1881 to 6000 ; and, according
to the last figures I have been able to obtain,
to 5100. Turning to poor-rate statistics we
find that in 1870 the number of paupers to
every thousand of the population was over
47. It had been as high as 52. Since then
it has fallen to 22, and in a parenthesis I
may say I am proud to find that in the
metropolis we are substantially below the
average. The proportion, therefore, is less
than one-half of what it used to be. Our
annual expenditure on the poor from rates is
8,000,000, and, supposing it had remained
at the former rate, it would have been over
16,000,000, or 8,000,000 more than the
present amount. If, then, we were now pay-
ing at the same rate as twenty years ago,
100 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
the cost of our criminals would have been
4,000,000 more than it is, and our poor-rate
I may add that the statistics of the worst
crimes are even more remarkable and satis-
factory. The yearly average of persons sen-
tenced to penal servitude in the five years
ending in 1864 was 2800, and that number
has steadily fallen, being for last year only
729, or but one quarter, notwithstanding the
increase of population. In fact eight of our
convict prisons have become unnecessary, and
have been applied to other purposes.
As showing the close connection of crime
and ignorance, I may also observe that ac-
cording to the last returns which I have been
able to obtain, out of 157,000 persons com-
mitted to prison there were only 5000 who
could read and write well, and only 250 who
were what could be called educated persons.
The following table 1 illustrates in a strik-
ing manner the great and progressive decrease
in the number of sentences for serious crime,
and it will be seen that the figures are all the
1 Rep. of the Dir. of Convict Prisons, 1893.
more striking because,. while $he
criminals has been falling, the population, on
the other hand, has been rapidly rising :
Yearly average number of persons sentenced on
indictment to penal servitude in England and
During 5 years ending
31st December 1859
Do 1884 . ...
Do 1889 . .
It will not, however, I hope, be supposed
that I should look at the question as a mere
matter of s. d. I have only referred to
this consideration as a reply to them who
object on the score of expense.
Of course, I am aware that various allow-
ances would have to be made, that other
circumstances have to be taken into consider-
ation, and that these figures cannot claim any
102 . W T?BL.UTSJE OF LIFE CHAP.
Scientific-; accuracy ; at fche same time they
are interesting and very satisfactory.
The fact is that only a fraction of the crime
of the country arises from deliberate wicked-
ness or irresistible temptation ; the great
sources of crime are drink and ignorance.
The happy results which have been obtained
are due, not only to the good which the chil-
dren learn in school, the habits of cleanliness
and order which they acquire, but to the fact
that they are not learning the evil lessons of
the streets, but are protected from the fatal
teaching and example of the criminal and
We are beginning then to feel the advan-
tage of Education in the diminution of the
poor-rate 1 and the emptying of our prisons,
showing the diminution of paupers and crim-
inals, and especially, I may add, of juvenile
It may, however, well be doubted whether
we have yet devised the best system of educa-
tion. There are three great questions which
1 Of course I am here speaking of the rate for the mainte-
nance of the poor. Many other expenses are included in what
is technically called the "poor-rate."
vi NATIONAL EDUCATION 103
in life we have over and over again to answer.
Is it right or wrong ? Is it true or false ? Is
it beautiful or ugly ? Our education ought
to help us to answer these questions.
Nearly two centuries ago Bacon spoke of
those who " call upon men to sell their books
and buy furnaces, forsaking Minerva and the
Muses as barren virgins, and relying upon
Vulcan." We must not forsake Minerva and
the Muses, but yet we have never sufficiently
based our education on the Bible of Nature.
Reading and Writing, Arithmetic and Gram-
mar do not constitute Education, any more
than a knife, fork, and spoon constitute a din-
ner. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could neither
read nor write, and probably were quite igno-
rant of the rule of three.
I have been often accused of attacking clas-
sical education. This, however, I have never
done. The Classics are a most important
part of education, which it would be absurd
to undervalue or neglect, but they are not
the whole, and our Education, as Charles
Buxton observed, " too often consists in merely
learning the words which dead gentlemen of
104 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
2000 years ago would have used." To neg-
lect other subjects is, to use Cicero's meta-
phor, as if a man took care of his right side
only, and neglected the left. Much of our
so-called classical education is, however, not
even classical. So much attention and time
are devoted to the grammar, that the sense
of the Classical writers is lost. It is, in fact,
a branch of Science, viz. Grammar, not,
however, always taught scientifically, or in
the most interesting manner. Moreover, in
our present system our boys are not taught
to speak Latin or Greek ; and as a climax of
absurdity, as a last precaution to render the
instruction as useless as possible, they are
trained to pronounce the words very differ-
ently from the Romans or Greeks themselves,
or indeed for the people of any other country,
and even from the Scotch.
The system fails to give any love of Classi-
cal literature. Thackeray, in his notes of a
journey from Cornhill to Cairo, imagines the
Greek Muse coming to him and asking if he
were not charmed to find himself at Athens,
to which he replies with more truth than
vi NATIONAL EDUCATION 105
politeness, " Madam, your company in youth
was made so laboriously disagreeable to me
that I cannot at present reconcile myself to
you in age."
But important as they are, the Classics are
only one side of Education. The very ex-
pression " Literae humaniores " shows how
much in the old view Education should be
allied to human sympathy to the wider kins-
manship which unites man to man. Shake-
speare, we are told, had " small Latin and less
Greek." Books, even with all the help they
can receive from meditation and discourse,
can supply only part of education. The boy
who has studied books only, who knows noth-
ing of Nature, nothing of the world in which
we live, cannot grow into a whole man ; he
can never be more than a mere fraction.
It has, moreover, been justly observed that
much of our so-called education is " like read-
ing a treatise on Botany to a flower-bed, to
make the plants grow." l
We have not only much to learn, but much
1 Guesses at Truth.
106 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
While making these remarks I am far in-
deed from being ungrateful to schoolmasters.
Theirs is a most laborious, exhausting, and
responsible profession. Nothing is more de-
lightful than playing with children. To teach
them is a different matter.
To give instruction in grammar and arith-
metic is perhaps fairly easy. " Yes, this is
easy ; but to help the young soul, add energy,
inspire hope, and blow the coals into a useful
flame ; to redeem defeat by new thought, by
firm action, that is not easy, that is the work
of divine men." 1
Education is not intended to make Lawyers
or Clergymen, Soldiers or Schoolmasters,
Farmers or Artisans, but Men.. "I call a
complete and generous education," said Mil-
ton, "that which fits a man to perform
justly, skilfully, and magnanimously all the
offices, both private and public, of peace and
Philosophers have always been too ready
to suppose that questions of fact can be
settled by verbal considerations. Plutarch
vi NATIONAL EDUCATION 107
has an amusing discussion on the question,
Which came first ? the Hen or the. Egg ?
and one consideration brought forward is
that the hen came first, because every one
speaks of a hen's egg and no one says an
It cannot be right to let our children grow
up, so that
" Unknown to them the subtle skill
With which the artist eye can trace
In rock and tree, and lake and hill,
The outlines of divinest grace." l
" If any imagine," says Jefferies, " that
they will find thought in many books, they
will be disappointed. Thought dwells by
the stream and sea, by the hill and in the
woodland, in the sunlight and free wind."
Unfortunately, however, the streams and
sea, the forests and sunlight and fresh air,
are less accessible to us than we could wish.
Moreover, thought no doubt dwells in books
too. But they must be used with judgment.
Language is a very imperfect instrument of
expression. It is not every boy that grows
108 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
into a man. Even the truths of Arithmetic
must be used with caution.
It is probably from the defects in our
system, which I have just alluded to, that
so many fail to carry on any systematic self-
education after leaving school. No doubt
we go on learning as long as we live : " Live
and learn," says the old proverb ; but the
question is whether we learn in a haphazard
manner scraps of information which we light
on in a newspaper or in a novel ; or whether
we carry on anything which can fairly be
called self -training and education.
I have elsewhere 1 given the views of one
high authority as to what might reasonably
be expected, and will here quote the very
similar opinion given by Professor Huxley :
" Such education should enable an average
boy of fifteen or sixteen to read and write
his own language with ease and accuracy,
and with a sense of literary excellence de-
rived from the study of our classic writers :
to have a general acquaintance with the his-
tory of his own country and with the great
1 The Pleasures of Life.
vi NATIONAL EDUCATION 109
laws of social existence, to have acquired the
rudiments of the physical and psychological
sciences, and a fair knowledge of elementary
arithmetic and geometry. He should have
obtained an acquaintance with logic rather
by example than by precept; while the ac-
quirements of the elements of music and
drawing should have been pleasure rather
Such information is most interesting.
Many of us have felt with John Hunter, the
great anatomist, and could say that " As a
boy, I wanted to know about the clouds and
the grasses, and why the leaves changed
colour in the Autumn. I watched the Ants,
Bees, Birds, Tadpoles, and Caddis Worms ;
I pestered people with questions about what
nobody knew or cared anything about."
" I will only," observes Locke in his treatise
on Education, " say this one thing concern-
ing books, that however it has got the name,
yet converse with books is not, in my opinion,
the principal part of study ; there are two
others which ought to be joined with it, each
whereof contributes their share to our im-
110 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP, vi
provement in knowledge ; and those are
meditation and discourse. Reading, me-
thinks, is but collecting the rough materials,
amongst which a great deal must be laid
aside as useless. Meditation is, as it were,
choosing and fitting the materials, framing
the timbers, squaring and laying the stones,
and raising the buildings ; and discourse with
a friend (for wrangling in a dispute is of little
use) is, as it were, surveying the structure,
walking in the rooms, and observing the
symmetry and agreement of the parts, tak-
ing notice of the solidity or defects of the
works, and the best way to find out and
correct what is amiss ; besides that it helps
often to discover truths, and fix them in our
minds as much as either of the other two."
EDUCATION is the harmonious development
of all our faculties. It begins in the nursery,
and goes on at school, but does not end there.
It continues through life, whether we will or
not. The only question is whether what we
learn in after life is wisely chosen or picked
up haphazard. " Every person," says Gibbon,
" has two educations, one which he receives
from others, and one more important, which
he gives himself."
What we teach ourselves must indeed
always be more useful than what we learn of
others. " Nobody," said Locke, " ever went
far in knowledge, or became eminent in any
of the Sciences, by the discipline and restraint
of a Master."
You cannot, even if you would, keep your
112 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
heart empty swept and garnished ; the only
question is whether you will prepare it for
good or evil.
Those who have not distinguished them-
selves at school need not on that account be
discouraged. The greatest minds do not
necessarily ripen the quickest. If, indeed,
you have not taken pains, then, though I will
not say that you should be discouraged, still
you should be ashamed ; but if you have done
your best, you have only to persevere ; and
many of those who have never been able to
distinguish themselves at school, have been
very successful in after life. We are told
that Wellington and Napoleon were both dull
boys, and the same is said to have been the
case with Sir Isaac Newton, Dean Swift,
Clive, Sir Walter Scott, Sheridan, Burns, and
many other eminent men.
Evidently then it does not follow that those
who have distinguished themselves least at
school have benefited least.
Genius has been described as "an infinite
capacity for taking pains," which is not very
far from the truth. As Lilly quaintly says,
" If Nature plays not her part, in vain is
Labour ; yet if Studie be not employed, in
vain is Nature."
On the other hand, many brilliant and
clever boys, for want of health, industry, or
character, have unfortunately been failures in
after life, as Goethe said, " like plants which
bear double flowers, but no fruit ; " and have
sunk to driving a cab, shearing sheep in Aus-
tralia, or writing for a bare subsistence ; while
the comparatively slow but industrious and
high-principled boys have steadily risen and
filled honourable positions with credit to them-
selves and advantage to their country.
Doubts as to the value of education have
in some cases arisen, as Dr. Arnold says, from
"that strange confusion between ignorance
and innocence with which many people seem
to solace themselves. Whereas, if you take
away a man's knowledge, you do not bring
him to the state of an infant, but to that of
a brute ; and of one of the most mischievous
and malignant of the brute creation," l for,
as he points out elsewhere, if men neglect
1 Arnold's Christian Life.
114 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
that which should be the guide of their lives,
they become the slaves of their passions, and
are left with the evils of both ages the igno-
rance of the Child, and the vices of the Man.
No one whose Education was well started
at school would let it stop. It is a very low
view of Education to suppose that we should
study merely to serve a paltry convenience,
that we should confine it to what the Germans
call "bread and butter" studies.
The object of a wise education is in the
words of Solomon
" To know wisdom and instruction ;
To perceive the words of understanding ;
To receive the instruction of wisdom,
Justice, and judgment, and equity ;
To give subtlety to the simple,
To the young man knowledge and discretion." l
A man, says Thoreau, " will go considerably
out of his way to pick up a silver dollar; but
here are golden words, which the wisest Men
of Antiquity have uttered, and whose worth
the wise of every succeeding age have assured
vii SELF-EDUCATION 115
A sad French proverb says, " Si jeunesse
savait, si viellesse pouvait ; " and a wise edu-
cation will tend to provide us with both requi-
sites, with knowledge in youth and strength
in age. Experience, said Franklin, " is a dear
school, but fools will learn in no other."
It is half the battle to make a good start
" Train up a child in the way he should go ;
And when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Begin well, and it will be easier and easier
as you go on. On the other hand, if you
make a false start it is far from easy to re-
trieve your position. It is difficult to learn,
but still more difficult to unlearn.
Try to fix in your mind what is best in
books, in men, in ideas, and in institutions.
We need not be ashamed if others know more
than we do ; but we ought to be ashamed if
we have not learnt all we can.
Education does not consist merely in study-
ing languages and learning a number of facts.
It is something very different from, and
higher than, mere instruction. Instruction
116 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
stores up for future use, but education sows
seed which will bear fruit, some thirty, some
sixty, some one hundred fold.
" Wisdom is the principal thing ; therefore get wis-
And with all thy getting get understanding." l
Knowledge is admittedly very inferior to
wisdom, but yet I must say that she has some-
times received very scant justice. We are
told, for instance, that
" Knowledge is proud that she has learnt so much ;
Wisdom is humble that she knows no more." 2
But this is not so. Those who have learnt
most, are best able to realise how little they
Even Bishop Butler tells us that " Men of
deep research and curious inquiry should just
be put in mind, not to mistake what they are
doing. If their discoveries serve the cause
of virtue and religion, in the way of proof,
motive to practice, or assistance in it ; or if
they tend to render life less unhappy, and
promote its satisfactions ; then they are most
1 Proverbs. 2 Cowper.
vii SELF-EDUCATION 117
usefully employed : but bringing things to
light, alone and of itself, is of no manner of
use, any otherwise than as an entertainment
It has again been unjustly said that knowl-
" A rude unprofitable mass,
The mere materials with which wisdom builds."
He would be a poor architect, however, who
was careless in the choice of materials, and
no one can say what the effect of " bringing
things to light " may be. Many steps in
knowledge, which at the time seemed practi-
cally useless, have proved most valuable.
Knowledge is power. " Knowledge of the
electric telegraph saves time; knowledge of
writing saves human speech and locomotion ;
knowledge of domestic economy saves income ;
knowledge of sanitary laws saves health and
life ; knowledge of the laws of the intellect
saves wear and tear of brain ; and knowledge
of the laws of the Spirit what does it not
" For direct self-preservation," says Herbert
118 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
Spencer, "or the maintenance of life and
health, the all-important knowledge is
Science ; for that indirect self-preservation
which we call gaining a livelihood, the knowl-
edge of greatest value is Science. For the
due discharge of parental functions, the proper
guidance is to be found only in Science.
For that interpretation of national life, past
and present, without which the citizen cannot
rightly regulate his conduct, the indispensable
key is Science. Alike for the most perfect
production and highest enjoyment of Art in
all its forms, the needful preparation is still
Science. And for purposes of discipline
intellectual, moral, religious the most effi-
cient study is, once more Science."
" When I look back," says Dr. Fitch, " on
my own life, and think on the long past
school and college days, I know well that
there is not a fact in history, not a formula in
mathematics, not a rule in grammar, not a
sweet and pleasant verse of poetry, not a
truth in science which I ever learned, which
has not come to me over and over again in
the most unexpected ways, and proved to be
vii SELF-EDUCATION 119
of greater use than I could ever have believed.
It has helped me to understand better the
books I read, the history of events which are
occurring round me, and to make the, whole
outlook of life larger and more interesting."
Lastly, I will quote Dean Stanley. " Pure
love of truth," he says, " how very rare and
yet how very beneficent ! We do not see its
merits at once : we do not perceive, perhaps,
in this or the next generation, how widely
happiness is increased in the world by the
discoveries of men of science, who have pur-
sued them simply and solely because they
were attracted towards them by their single-
minded love of what was true." 1 Well then
may Solomon say that
" A wise man will hear, and will increase learning." 2
There is hardly any piece of information
which will not corne in useful, hardly any-
thing which is not worth seeing at least
once. There are in reality no little things,
only little minds.
"Knowledge is like the mystic ladder in
1 Stanley's Life. 2 Proverbs.
120 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.
the Patriarch's dream. Its base rests on the
primeval earth its crest is lost in the
shadowy splendour of the empyrean ; while
the great authors who for traditionary ages
have held the chain of science and philosophy,
of poesy and erudition, are the angels ascend-
ing and descending the sacred scale, and
maintaining, as it were, the communication
between earth and heaven." l
It is sad, however, to remember in how
many cases the authors of great discoveries
are unknown ; sad, not on their account, but
because we should wish to remember them
with gratitude. Great discoverers have sel-