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2. The board for conferring licenses should be constituted of as able and upright men as those who make up the License Court now sitting in Philadelphia under the provisions of the new Pennsylvania license law. More than this it would be impossible to ask. Four of the best judges of the county, men of the very highest personal and judicial character, are intrusted with this momentous business, and are giving to it their faithful, untiring attention, to the dismay of the horde of criminals that haunt the court, and of all those who have vested interests in the promotion of crime.
3. But while there are no persons so well qualified for this task as experienced judges, their very experience will be a disqualification, if it results in their bringing into the license court too much of the procedure of a court of justice. Before the license court there is no question of justice whatever, whether distributive or vindictive. It is unfortunate that it should be called a court, and that its members should be called judges. It is partly as a result of this misnomer, favored, of course, to the utmost by the attorneys for the applicants, that the assumption is tacitly made and conceded that these applicants are on trial, and entitled to a favorable verdict unless some disqualification is proved against them. On the contrary, it ought to be understood and felt on all hands that the applicant is not demanding justice; that he is petitioning to be invested with a privilege that shall distinguish him from the mass of his fellow citizens as a person of such exceptional discretion and fidelity that he may safely be trusted with a necessary but dangerous business, which is not to be committed to ordinary hands. The first question to be raised is not to other citizens, Have you anything against this man? but to the applicant himself, What are the qualifications which you consider yourself to possess for this trust for which you apply? Give an account of yourself. What are your antecedents? Have you had experience in this business before? If so, who were your neighbors, and who were your customers? Can you bring a recommendation from the policemen and from the local magistrate to the effect that a license issued to you would be a blessing to the neighborhood? This is the line of inquiry that should be taken up, and, adequately prosecuted by
an intelligent and upright judge, it would rarely leave any necessity for calling other witnesses. But so long as the procedure of a so-called license court is founded on the assumption that a liquor license is the inalienable right of every man that can pay the fee unless something is proved against him, the practice of the court will be affected thereby, to the public detriment. It ought to be conclusive against an applicant that the court knows nothing about him.
4. It ought to be understood that it is not the business of the licensing board to find suitable candidates; that it is only to pronounce on the suitableness of the candidates who present themselves. If it should so happen that all the applicants at a certain time were demonstrably unfit, or that they were not demonstrably fit, the licensing board would not be to blame for recognizing that fact, and waiting for further applications before issuing any license. In fact, this course would be its obvious duty.
We must be prepared here for the objection always raised at this point by that sagacious friend of humanity, the prohibitionist: "Do you expect that respectable and honorable men are going to apply for liquor licenses? That will never be." The answer is obvious enough. Under a good law, righteously administered, if no suitable men apply, there will be no licenses granted. The last man to make this objection should be the prohibitionist. But it is part of the unwritten league which unites him with the saloon keeper, that they shall work together to keep the whole trade in liquors in the hands of the criminal classes.
LEONARD WOOLSEY BACON.
WHAT SHALL THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS TEACH?
MASSACHUSETTS is the birthplace of the public school. "As an innovation upon all pre-existing policy and usages," says Horace Mann, "the establishment of free schools was the boldest ever promulgated since the commencement of the Christian era." Time, which tests all things, has left no occasion for the vindication or eulogy of this institution.
But in these latter days, when doctrinaires assume to limit the teaching of the common school to elementary branches, it is interesting to observe how comprehensive was the thought of our fathers at a time when the wolf was at their doors, and poverty was the companion of their firesides. In one of the earlier colonial statutes it was ordained that, while every town of fifty householders should teach every child to read and write, every town of one hundred should establish a grammar school where youth might be "fitted for the university, to the end that learning may not be buried in the graves of our forefathers in church and commonwealth." To these wise builders of the state the highest education of some meant the highest service to all. And this is forever true. Scholarship is a diffusible blessing. The high-priests of science and of literature are, consciously or unconsciously, ministering to the lowliest. And, as a matter of history, the great movements of philanthropy to elevate the lower and dependent classes, either materially or spiritually, have been led by scholars.
Even if we adopt that curious theory that the state exists only for itself, then we say that the best education makes the best citizens. Nor is there any logical line of exclusion to be drawn above reading and writing, or anywhere else on the ascending scale. Brushing aside restrictive theories, there remains the practical question, how far the state shall educate. And the answer to this may vary according to circumstances. The
general judgment of the American people has wisely fixed the limit, for the present at least, at the time when the pupil nat urally leaves his home for further training.
Within the limits the state sets for itself everybody's school should be better than anybody's. This not only because the state has ampler means, but also because of the breadth of culture and the healthiness of influence which comes from the mingling of all classes of children together. A boy may be as manly a boy brought up under the glass of "a select school," but the chances are against him. Of course, when I say that everybody's school should be better than anybody's, I mean better for the average pupil. There may be special cases that can be better provided for in private schools. Nor should the greatest good of the greatest number be subordinated to any other consideration. While, therefore, I believe that ordinarily it is better for the boy and better for the school that our highschools should afford a suitable preparation for college, yet careful attention should be paid to the proportion of time and teaching strength devoted to this purpose. And, as one of the greatest perils attending our modern education is the over-strain of college fitting, to wise parents it would be a recommendation if the public school should deliberately elect to keep behind private tuition in the race of preparation.
The study of Latin, however (with very little attention to its grammar), I would introduce into the grammar school at an early age, and as a part of the general curriculum. Viewed merely from the practical side, I think a knowledge of ordinary Latin words of more use to the average citizen than much of the English grammar and geography now taught. It unlocks the meaning of many common legal and scientific terms, it familiarizes one with the classical mythology which has to be understood to enjoy almost any branch of imaginative literature, and it is the only means by which to get an impressive sense of the precise force of a large part of the English language itself. Besides all this, the study of classical literature, to even a very moderate extent, tends to refine the taste and train the critical faculties, and constitutes the true complement to scientific studies in mental development.
It is not necessary to say anything of the common course of study which makes the staple of public-school instruction. Thoroughness in these elementary branches is essential, but needs no advocacy.
"Encourage the beautiful," says Goethe, "for the useful will take care of itself." It is a pregnant saying, but still a halftruth; for the beautiful is, in so many ways, itself the useful, whether the end sought is happiness or culture. The "common school" should be common in nothing but its openness to every one; like the common air and the world itself, it should be no less beautiful because its ownership is universal. Those whose homes supply scanty means of refinement or sources of beauty, should have those tastes awakened and trained at school which will make life sweeter and happier wherever it may be passed. Without overburdening the curriculum of studies, such arts as music, drawing, and floriculture might take their place as diversions.
"Character building" must be assumed as summing up, as well as a phrase can, the ultimate object of education. On the intellectual side such building requires both tools and materials; the mind must have something to work with and something to work on. But it is a grave error to mistake methods or facts for education. If we had to choose between attainments and the vigor of mind which has the power to attain what it wills, we should certainly choose the latter. All else comes when needed. But the head will do but little unless spurred on by the heart, and I would have over every school-room these golden sentences of Sir John Lubbock: "The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should wish to learn. A boy who leaves school knowing much, but hating his lessons, will soon have forgotten almost all he ever learned; while another who had acquired a thirst for knowledge, even if he had learned little, would soon teach himself more than the first ever knew.”
I am not, then, departing from a strictly practical answer to the question, "What shall the public schools teach?" when I say, above all things, the love of truth itself. The teacher who cannot inspire his pupils with this must confess himself to be a