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COLLATERAL READINGS SUGGESTED.
Carpenter's Principles of Mental Physiology; Grant Allen's Physiological Esthetics; Becquerel's Traité Elémentaire Privée et Publique: Labor as a Means of Human Improvement (Popular Science Monthly, 1891, p. 571); Carlyle's Critical and Miscellaneous Essays; Hamerton's Intellectual Life; Fothergill's Diseases of Sedentary and Advanced Life; Galton's Hereditary Genius, and English Men of Science: Their Nature and Nurture; Froebel's Education of Man; Kindergarten and Manual Training Literature; Gladden's Man and his Tools; MacArthur's Education in its Relation to Manual Industry.
LABOR AS A FACTOR IN EVOLUTION.
BY DAVID ALLYN GORTON, M. D.
EVOLUTION has won a place in the literature of every language. Even those who, from pride of lineage or fear of heterodoxy, decline to accept the doctrine of man's descent from the ape, will admit that he is being evolved from darkness to light,-from barbarism to civilization.
Evolution is stamped on every page of history and on every leaflet that flutters in the breezes of heaven! Even the rocks attest its truth. Not only is it observed in the awakening faculties of the child, in the unfolding of childhood into manhood or womanhood, but it is apparent in his subsequent career. In him are treasured the experiences of the past, which he enlarges upon and sends, ever augmenting, down the line of posterity.
The subject is strikingly illustrated in the growth of language and literature, science and art, industry and invention. It is illustrated in a manner equally striking in the mechanical arts. Every schoolboy knows the humble origin of the plow, mower, reaper and other implements of the farm and garden, and can trace back, step by step, the modern harvester or threshing machine to the humble flail and the horses' tread. The steam-engine has been perfected by countless inventions superposed upon Watt's original idea. The simple canoe has become a palatial steamship; and the common wheelbarrow has grown into a com. modious express wagon; the gig has become a stately brougham, and this, again, a palace car, with all the luxuries and conveniences of the modern drawing room.
Nothing is created or was ever created, but everything is evolved. The organic forces are evolved from the physical; the psychic or spiritual forces are
evolved from the organic; the celestial forces are evolved from the spiritual. Evolution is as true of man and the earth as it is of the humblest invention, or the tiniest flower. It is equally true of nations and peoples, institutions, religions, art, science and philosophy. What is called education is but the process of evolution. Teachers, preachers, books, schools, colleges, universities and the manual arts and industries are means, to which evolution is the end. And when we speak of education, we imply the application of means and methods by which to unfold dormant faculties, or of evolving the mind from a nascent state to that of intellectual and moral supremacy. Let us note briefly, at the outset, the failure of education, in the popular sense, to effect this purpose.
One has been wont to look upon the common school as the hope of the race. Every parent, ambitious for his son's advancement, and in these days, that of his daughters, too, turns to the school as a means to that end. Education is supposed to begin and end with the school. The reformer and philanthropist have regarded the school as a nursery of morality. Statesmen and politicians have likewise based their hopes on the same institution for bettering the condition of the masses and the prevention of pauperism and crime. To this end, the public school has been instituted in the enlightened centers of christendom, and attendance upon it made compulsory. It is a wiser policy, it is said, to tax for the support of schools than for the poorhouse and penitentiary. This sentiment, which was advanced by Horace Mann, one of America's most prominent educators of the last generation, assumes that if we are not taxed for schools, we shall of necessity be taxed to support paupers and criminals. But it is an assumption resting upon a questionable basis, for pauperism and crime keep even pace with the extension of the common school system, and the increase of thieving and over-reaching, with the number of college graduates, showing that vice and ignorance do not sustain the relation of cause and effect, no more than do knowledge and virtue. Nay, it shows more than that: it shows that education, in the popular sense, is not a specific for the evil of
crime and pauperism. We must awaken to the fact, therefore, that intellectual culture is no shield against corruptions of the moral nature, which find expression in the evils of the times. The most atrocious murder in the annals of Massachusetts was committed by a Harvard graduate, while the most wise and virtuous statesman, since Washington, had scarcely the rudiments of a common school education.
The great crimes of the day are not committed by the working classes. The man who lives by the sweat of his brow scorns to live by the sweat of another's brow. He has no disposition to despoil his fellow. He does not steal railroads nor wreck corporations. He does not embezzle, hypothecate, nor run away with trust funds. He knows nothing of the tricks of trade, or methods by which profits may be trebled without increase of costs. He does not sell his opinions or influence by which to rope in the unwary into schemes nefarious. Nor is he a candidate for bribery. He is neither a "bull" nor a "bear;" nor does he form "combines" nor make "corners" to fleece the public. The strongest search-light would fail to find in the "American Colony" on the other side of the St. Lawrence, a hardy son of toil-a working man. The men who prey on society, who reap where they have not sown, who rob and cheat their neighbors, and do all the other wrongs, not to say crimes, which we have enumerated, under forms of law and otherwise, are mostly men of education, many of them college. bred. And, be it observed, it is not the wrongs done against law, that Society has most to fear. A thousand-fold more dangerous to society are the wrongs committed in the name and under the sanction of law.
It may appear strange to you that I should stand in this place, consecrated as it is to the service of education and morality, before an audience that owes so much to letters, and speak in terms not altogether laudatory of the influence of books and schools. Do not misunderstand me. The school has its place, and a very large one, among the agencies of evolution. It is as dear to me as it is to any man. But it has its limitations in this direction, as at present constituted, and we insist its influence is as a means and not as
an end. A little French, a little music, a little drawing and painting, and a smattering of Latin and Greek, boxing and fencing, are empty accomplishments. Of what avail is it if one be master of the learning of the world and can do nothing? Such an one is as a leech on the body politic. But for the labor of others he would starve. Development of character is of vastly more importance than the possession of the learning of the schools. Genuine education begins where the learning of the schools leaves. off, and the pupil is brought in contact with men and things, and takes an active part in the world's work. Mere knowledge does not make character, nor does it afford any adequate discipline of our faculties; nor does it civilize us, or affect our moral status. Knowledge is as likely to sharpen the wits of the vicious and wayward, making them more successful in schemes to outwit or despoil their fellows, as it is to sharpen the wits of the virtuous and well-intentioned. It is to the conflict of mind with mind that we must look for an education worthy of the name, which means active participation in the affairs of life-in the world's work.
Let us now speak of the place of Labor as a factor in evolution. The subject is so large that we shall have to confine it to the individual.
Do we sufficiently appreciate the intrinsic beneficence of labor in the evolution of character? There exists a tendency to degrade labor, especially if it be manual, and to put a small value on the man or woman who is compelled to do it. Public opinion has made it odious. The aim is, therefore, to gain a living by other means-to seek to live by the sweat of other men's brows instead of one's own brow, -to secure the rewards of labor without incurring its opprobrium. The spirit of Mammonism which despotically rules the age, has put a money valuation upon a man's time and sense alike. Character and success it estimates by the same unequal standard.. The youth who depend upon their wit, or the work of their hands for a subsistence, are impelled by the force of circumstances and the influence of the time-spirit to do that which they must, and only so long as they must,