Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

are given in detail. The urgent demand for a Roman Catholic university for Ireland led to the appointment of a royal commission to deal with the whole problem of university education in that division of the Kingdom. The report of this commission has just been issued, and on account both of its scope and judicial tone the hope is expressed that its recommendations will lead to a satisfactory settlement of the problem which has engaged its attention. The chapter closes with the citation from an article in Nature which discusses certain phases of university life in Great Britain as compared with Germany and the United States. The author admits that the conditions are too dissimilar in the different countries for exact comparisons; they are valuable rather for the facts they disclose than for relations which they establish. On the basis implied it appears that the United Kingdom bas 4,', university students for every 10,000 of the population, as against 7186 in the German Empire and 12v in the United States.

The educational problem in England.- Properly to conceive the situation in England one must think all the social elements as existing in a state of tension, namely, each popular interest in Great Britain as existing in a constant struggle with all the other elements for its due consideration in the aggregate of all national interests. The manufacturing population, its capitalists and its laborers, the agricultural population, its landowners, and its gentlemen farmers who lease the lands, and the masses of people who perform the common labor, added to those who manage its commerce, capitalists, supervisors, and laborers in the shops and markets, and engaged in transportation, and besides these, the titled classes of gentlemen who live upon their incomes from the land-and count with these the ecclesiastics, those engaged in governmental service, the civil list, and the army and the navy, and add whatever other classes there may be--each pushes according to its strength and according to its particular interest, and the resultant is a balance of forces, an aggregate result, not the choice of any one party, nor the victory of any person or party, because the result is a compromise made which represents all the forces, each force limited through all the other forces. The aristocracy strives to retain its power and to get all that it can from the other classes. The mercantile population, the transportation population, the church, the farm laborers, and the manufacturing population all strive each to get its own, and to get the highest amount of well-being for its expenditure of strength and material means. This struggle reminds one of the principle in evolution known as the survival of the fittest. It seems to be a seltish struggle for the possession of means and power, each class against all the other classes, the strongest getting the lion's share and the weakest getting a pitiful morsel only, not suflicient for the food, clothing, and shelter demanded for a rational life. But this

cruel and unfeeling struggle for survival is supplemented by the national philanthropy which ekes out the stipend of the lower and lowest ranks of society by the poor rates collected for the support of the paupers and for occasional aid for those members of the ranks above the paupers who fall into circumstances of special need.

It is said in behalf of the existence of the grand struggle that it develops individual strength as nothing else can do, and as regards the people who get underneath in the struggle it is said that the church and the state look after their actual needs of subsistence; and on the whole there is a development of individuality such as could not be expected under a different organization of society. “Every people will have weaklings, who must be in a measure supervised and cared for by the rest of society, just as the children in the family must be more or less guided and provided for by their parents and the older members of the family.”

To some persons this explanation seems a forced one, designed specially to justify what is called the competitive organization of society. To others, and especially those engaged in the social philanthropies, it seems inadequate.

This competitive struggle exasperates the student who is a partisan (for he takes sides with one party and does not feel a tolerant spirit toward the others), and it seems to him tyrannical that his favorites should get no show.

But English fair play means just this thing—the free contest of all and the aggregate result in which is represented at its full force, each force reduced to its true value as measured by its ratio in the strength of the whole.

There are castes founded on conquest long ago and on wealth inherited from remote ancestors; but there are new conquests in war and new heroes, and layers of new castes, and especially new strong people, continually arising through acquired wealth, through inventions, through new industries, new conquests in distant border lands. The captains of industry, the organizers of capital, all those who make combinations in transportation and invest in distant lands capital for public improvements, form a large class in the ranks of the new higher caste.

But an estimate that counts only the total process of the struggle of each might against the whole gets only a half of the elements of the problem.

There is besides this struggle the philanthropy that comes to the help of the weaklings of society, with hygiene at public expense, with alms distributed for the paupers, asylums for orphans, feeble-minded, and defectives, and with juvenile reformatories for reprobate children.

It is this curious make-up from two contradictory elements—the cruel collision of brute force and the tender-hearted philanthropy

that puzzles students from other nationalities. It is difficult to see both sides at once. At one view it is a heartless struggle for control, cach one for itself and no consideration for the others. Then, at another view, Great Britain is the nation of all in the world for the benevolent consideration of the “under dog."

The caste feeling as affecting English education.-In no particular perhaps is the English ideal more different from the American than in the fact that the caste system demands an habitual feeling of the necessity of restraint within one's sphere of life. It demands content and a cheerful acceptance of one's lot in life-the determination to do faithfully the duties involved in one's sphere. The American life and education go toward the creation of enterprise and a heart hunger for adventure. This, too, is the spirit of English literature, from Defoe's Robinson Crusoe or even Spenser's Fäerie Queene down to Kipling's latest poems and stories.

In this we see, in some of its phases, what it is to have an estal)lished church. Such a church belongs to a caste system in which the orders of the population are fixed by the constitution, whether written or traditional. All Europe, in fact, separates its orders by hard and fast lines as compared with the United States and Anglo-Saxon colonies. The established church teaches this acceptance of one's lot in life as predetermined by heredity and accident. A settled conviction arises in the mind of the English citizen that it is for him to know his duty and perform it as prescribed by the functions of his caste. He has duties to those above him in the social rank and to those below him. Ile performs these duties and exacts, as far as he is able, a similar performance from others. His superiors should behave toward him with paternal condescension and humanity and his inferiors should perform their duties toward him with some trace of filial consideration.

It is diflicult for people in the United States to conceive the true inward attitude of mind on the part of the inbabitant of Great Britain. It is somewhat difficult even for a Canadian or Australian to conceive the state of mind of English peasantry in the rural districts of England. Large opportunities wait on all individuals in the colonies, and limitation comes only from within, not from without in the form of social caste. But the grandfathers now living in the United States can remember hearing their grandfathers tell of the deference paid in the town to the squire and his family and to petty dignitaries of the kind. In colonial times it was in many places customary for the congregation to rise and remain standing while the squire with his family moved down the aisle and took his front seat in the church. The view of the world of the person who recognizes caste and feels it as an ordinance founded in the nature of things, compared with the view of the world of the person who is brought up to believe all social distinctions acci

dents not affecting the fundamental rights of freedom and equality before the law of each individual, explains for us the radical difference which the Declaration of Independence has in the course of three generations produced in public and private opinion in this country. The continual readjustment of public opinion, rendered necessary by the Declaration of Independence and its doctrine of freedom and equality of all men in the substance of their humanity, has progressed so far in this time that the old view of fixed orders of rank in society, as defined by the written or unwritten constitution of the nation and as justified by the religion of the established church, seems impossible to a rational being. It looks to us as though it were possible only to a people with some moral obliquity in their view of the world. The equality of all has become a political axiom with us. And yet the thoughtful person will readily admit that the world at large outside of the United States has not arrived at this conviction. The citizen of the United States, however, is in the habit of supposing that his view of freedom must be the internal or private opinion of every human being on the planet, however different may be the practice. It is only, he says to himself, the practice that has not yet come up to the theory. But those who have made a careful study of the philosophy of history and of the comparative psychology of nations have come to see that the difference lies deeply in the political conviction of peoples and not merely in their practice.

I have dwelt on this point because the people of Great Britain come so near taking our political point of view that we are unable to explain their difference in practice.

We are just coming by means of animal psychology to understand in the case of bees and ants the rise of separate social orders and a fundamental instinct that determines the vocation of the life of the individual, limiting it to special functions, as in the case of laborers, drones, queens, etc. We are on the way to understand tribal life and the substantiality which caste based on heredity attains. By and by, perhaps, we shall see and understand all the degrees of emancipation from caste which the nations of farther Asia, the Chinese, and the East Indian civilizations bave made on the way from savagery. These nations of farther Asia seem on a superficial view to have reached the acme of the caste idea. But they have achieved a great emancipation as compared with savage life, wherein nature rules with absolute sway. It is a great step when human nature gets reflected in literature and also in codes of customs and laws like those of Confucius and Mencius in China, or in the East Indian “code of Manu," for mere use and wont without reflection is mechanical as compared with a use and wont which is contrasted step by step with its ideal in literature, because the individual employs in this operation of comparing his deeds with its ideal a vast amount of self-activity.

Assuming the point of view of our declaration of independence, the establishment of a caste system and of divine rights founded on hereditary descent or the accident of history, seems like a struggle of selfishness to obtain unwarranted power.

On the other hand, setting aside this American view and approaching the study of the institutions of Great Britain from the standpoint of comparative history, we are filled with admiration for the devices invented by the unconscious spirit of the people to make the higher ranks, the hereditary nobility, and the possession of wealth founded on monopolies serve the lower ranks of the people. From this it looks as if the higher ranks had for their chief function the creation of opportunity for the lower ranks. The uneducated peasantry are more or less in the condition of “the man with the hoe,” and contented with a lot in life which demands only a minimum of directive power. But the British East India Company creates opportunities for wealth and competence for hundreds of thousands of this stratum of the home population. It elevates them and their families into castes many degrees higher than those filled at home. And so the governing caste of Great Britain take possession of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada, with no end of expenditure of wealth and of military power, all for the creation of opportunity for the average common citizen. When it is asked what the highest classes of people in England do, history answers with the details of British colonization by which the ranks of the poor and scantily educated castes of its people under the leadership of members of the aristocracy have planted civilization and nurtured it in all quarters of the world --and one may say the record of the growth of the United States and of its prosperity belongs to this part of British history.

But the possession and colonization of territory is not the only exhibit which history makes of the united force of the British Empire; there is another sphere which belongs to what may be called promotion or the capitalizing of foreign industrial enterprises, such as the building of reservoirs for cities, transcontinental railways, naval vessels, steamboats for river navigation, the improvement of harbors, the building of sewers, and all that class of operations which invests capital in internal improvements in advance of the power of the borderland nation to provide the capital for building them out of its own income. The borderland nation can not spare the capital to provide what is necessary for its own hygiene and good government, namely, pure water, electricity or gas for its illumination, and street railways for the cheap transportation of its population, but it can afford to pay a good rate of interest on capital thus invested. The small sum that is necessary to furnish a hundred gallons of pure water a day for each inhabitant can be afforded by the poorest of populations when paid in the form of water rates, which in the aggregate pay the interest on

« AnteriorContinuar »