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technical schools or colleges such as are now called for, but was derived from ordinary school education and the practice of his profession, combined with reading, study, and experiment, or in other words chiefly by self-education, for which he enjoyed facilities which fortune denied to his father. As to George Stephenson's general want of education, it was inevitable that he should feel it keenly. As a child he had never been taught either to read or to write, and could do neither until he was eighteen, and then only imperfectly. No evening classes, no free libraries, no cheap educational literature were available to him, and until he rose to distinction he moved in a circle of people as little educated as himself. Hence, therefore, when his fame introduced him to the society of men of science and letters, he necessarily felt the disadvantage of his ignorance and want of culture. He was probably unaware that his unaffected simplicity gave an attractiveness to his society which quite outweighed his deficiency in book-learning and conventional manners. It is easy, therefore, to understand his desire that his son should have such an education as would fit him for social intercourse with those with whom he would have to associate.
In Blackwood's Magazine for March last there is an article by Professor Ramsay, who is one of the governors of the new Glasgow Technical College, which I had not seen at the time that I wrote my paper. Had I seen it I should probably have referred to it, as it takes a much more limited, and in my opinion more rational view, of the need of education applicable to productive industry than is held by Professor Playfair. I have pleasure in referring to that article now, not only because it is to a considerable extent in harmony with my opinions, but because it enables me to point out the wide divergence of view which exists amongst the distinguished advocates of technical education. Professor Ramsay altogether ignores Professor Playfair's contention that either technical or scientific education is needed for the multitude, and he takes the much more reasonable ground that it is only required for specialists and experts. The first portion of his paper is devoted to the inquiry as to the extent of the alleged superiority of foreign manufacturers, and after adducing a great number of examples of our indisputable supremacy, he arrives at the conclusion, in which he is supported by weighty authority, that, so far from its being true that our foreign rivals are gaining upon us, we are on the whole gaining upon them. In fact, he narrows down the number of the industries in which, he says, we are beaten by foreign nations into (1) those connected with processes which require scientific knowledge of chemistry of the highest kind, and (2) those in which success depends essentially upon taste and the faculty of design. He says that perhaps the most prominent example of our inferiority is in the manufacture of the coal-tar dyes. He states that the products of the distillation of coal-tar, the raw material from
which Germany makes the beautiful dyes of which our manufacturers are the chief purchasers, are supplied by us as refuse to Germany to be employed in a highly profitable manufacture, simply because we have not the brains or the skill to conduct the manufacture in our own country. He goes on to inquire what is the reason why Germany has carried off from us the manufacture of this article, and he declares that the one and sufficient reason is to be found in the superiority of the Germans in pure scientific chemistry. Professor Ramsay as a champion of scientific education clearly wants to make out that the want of scientific resource applicable to this particular manufacture is traceable to the want of scientific colleges in this country for obtaining a high-class chemical education. I prefer to attribute our inferiority to the apathy and want of enterprise exhibited by our own manufacturers of dyes, who do not take the necessary steps for procuring the requisite scientific assistance in the prosecution of their trade. The following extract from Professor Ramsay's article shows how he conceives this foreign success is attained :
One of the great colour works of the Continent is that of Messrs. Bindschedler and Busch at Basle. The whole work is under the direction of a highly educated chemist, cognisant of and able to make use of the discoveries emanating from the various scientific laboratories of the world; under him are three trained chemists, each over a department ; each of these has several assistant chemists under him. The men who work under this staff have no scientific knowledge whatever. Fitted up inside of the works are no less than ten thoroughly equipped laboratories, in which the above staff of chemists carry on new investigations. They have a complete scientific library, they take in all scientific journals, and experimentalise at once upon every new idea. Now when this passage is boiled down to its essence it amounts to this--that in this particular business the foreign manufacturer has the sense to see that success requires the aid of talented specialists, and has the enterprise to get them, and to give them every possible facility for pursuing their investigations. Why cannot the Englishman do the same? Does Professor Ramsay mean to say that the specialists are not to be had in England ? But if so what is to prevent the English manufacturer getting them from Germany? But they are to be had in England in cases where there is the demand for them, and in this case it is the fault of the English manufacturer that he does not make the demand. It is for him to make the first move, and then the supply would follow the demand. The simple truth is that the English dye manufacturer has less pluck and enterprise than his Swiss or German rival, and therefore he is beaten, and no amount of chemical colleges would save him from being beaten. But Professor Ramsay cannot say that our manufacturers are always behind the foreigners where high chemical science is required. Take, for example, the smelting of iron, in which we are admittedly pre-eminent. There are few processes that involve more recondite knowledge of chemistry than the economical working of the blast furnace,
upon which volumes have been written in England. Every ironmaster in the kingdom will acknowledge the necessity of either making himself an expert in the branches of chemistry concerned in the process of smelting or of employing qualified specialists to supply his own deficiencies. Those specialists are to be got in England, for the simple reason that there is a demand for them, and nobody pretends to say that the foreign specialist is in this case superior to the English one. But the number of industries that do require or involve high chemical knowledge or high scientific knowledge of any kind are extremely few in proportion to the whole, and the demand for chemical experts must in the aggregate be a narrow one.
Nor can it be shown that any special steps are necessary for their creation, because any man with a turn for chemistry who has acquired, by means already available, a good general chemical education up to a certain level easily attainable, is quite able to take up any particular branch of the subject, and pursue it to its utmost known limits, and even, if he be a man of talent, to prosecute researches beyond. The lack of talent is not asserted, but only the want of imparted knowledge. It must not, however, be supposed that I am adverse to high college education in chemistry or other physical sciences any more than I am adverse to the teaching of high mathematics in universities, for it is obvious that the literature of all these subjects would be much impoverished by the absence of such high education. All I mean to say is that its economic value is very much overrated, and that important practical results are most generally attained by men who, by facilities open to all men of ability, master scientific information to whatever extent is necessary to the prosecution of their researches or the attainment of their ends.
With respect to agriculture, Professor Ramsay says that there is no branch of our trade that lies in so hopeless a state of prostration as that of agriculture,' and this he attributes to absolute disregard of science. It is unjust to brand British agriculture with contempt for science, because in no country bas attention been more directed to the combination of science with practice in agriculture than in England. In proof of this I may especially refer to the researches of Sir John Lawes at Rothamstead, which are of European reputation. The results of those researches, extending over a period of twenty years, are now compiled in a popular form available to every farmer, and it is surely better that farmers should be guided by established scientific results than by theorising for themselves. I know of no branch of industry in which the truth of the adage that a ' little knowledge is a dangerous thing' is more strongly exemplified than in that of agriculture, for it is notorious that theoretical farmers are much more liable to come to grief than those who follow the beaten tracks of practice. Men like Sir John Lawes who combine the highest theoretical knowledge with a wide practical experience may accom
plish great results by such a combination; but it is absurd to suppose that ordinary farmers can be educated up to that standard, or can have an experience sufficient to warrant their departing with safety from established practice. I admit that it would be very desirable if persons who are destined to have the superintendence of estates were to be well educated, not only in the practice, but also in the science of agriculture, because they would have opportunities of exercising a wholesome controlling and directing influence; but there are already sufficient agricultural colleges in existence to meet this or any other reasonable need. As to educating farm-labourers in science, as Professor Playfair would do, no possible good could be anticipated from so doing. In fact we should only render them too fastidious for common farmwork, whilst they would be unable to find employment in higher situations, which are already overstocked. Professor Ramsay does not venture to say that our agriculture is on the whole inferior to that which is practised abroad, although he insinuates as much by referring to the German success in the growth of beetroot for the manufacture of sugar. But he ignores the question how much of this success is due to sugar bounties and how much to science; at any rate, as our farmers do not grow beetroot for sugar and cannot do so profitably in this climate, the example he quotes has no bearing on British agriculture. He is more to the point when he alludes to what he calls the literal and shameful fact' that British butter and British cheese are being driven out of our markets by foreign producers for no other reason than that the British farmer does not know how to make either one or the other. But if foreign cheese is competing with ours, it is not because it is better, but because it is cheaper. As to butter, it must be admitted that the majority of our farmers are exceedingly careless about making it properly, but the making of good butter and cheese involves no high scientific knowledge, and the foreign makers who are said to be beating our farmers have no more scientific knowledge than they have. As a matter of fact dairy-schools are now much on the increase, and may be expected to afford all the practical information that is needed for improvement.
I now come to the second division of industries in which Professor Ramsay considers we are distanced by foreign nations, i.e. those in which success depends essentially upon taste and upon the faculty of design. There is no question that half a century ago, or we may even say prior to the Great International Exhibition of 1851, the English people were lamentably behind their French neighbours in taste for decorative art; but it is equally certain that very rapid improvement has since been made, so much so that, instead of being far behind the French, we are now pushing them very hard, and are in some respects ahead of them. This is not owing to a few schools of design being dotted about, as Professor Ramsay would fain believe,
but to the truer realisation by the English public of what constitutes good taste. Our manufacturers merely follow the lead of the public, and find themselves compelled to supply what the public demand. In fact, in matters of taste as well as everything else, supply will always follow demand.
As to what Professor Ramsay says on the expediency of making drawing a prominent object of education, I quite agree with him.
The aphorism that knowledge is power' is so constantly used by educational enthusiasts that it may almost be regarded as the motto of the party. But the first essential of a motto is that it be true, and it is certainly not true that knowledge is essentially the same as power, seeing that it is only an aid to power. The power of a surgeon to amputate a limb no more lies in his knowledge than in his knife. In fact, the knife has the better claim to potency of the two, for a man may hack off a limb with his knife alone, but not with his knowledge alone. Knowledge is not even an aid to power in all cases, seeing that useless knowledge, which is no uncommon article in our popular schools, has no relation to power. The true source of power is the originative action of the mind which we see exhibited in the daily incidents of life as well as in matters of the greatest importance. The man who is said to have extricated a little dog from the jaws of a big one by dexterously placing a pinch of snuff on the nose of the larger animal exercised an act of power by his mental resource, aided only by his courage and dexterity. Had he been a mere receptacle of knowledge, he would have been powerless to act; but when he exclaimed to the admiring spectators, "You see that “knowledge is power,” ' he said what was neither true nor appropriate. And here I am brought back to the keynote of my former article, which was tható a man's success in life depends incomparably more upon his capacities for useful action than upon his acquirements in knowledge, and the education of the young should therefore be directed to the development of faculties and valuable qualities rather than to the acquisition of knowledge.' None of my critics have touched upon this cardinal point, and I suspect they fear to do so, being aware, as everybody is, that men of capacity, and possessing qualities for useful action, are at a premium all over the world, while men of mere education are at a deplorable discount. It is melancholy to know, as I do from experience, how eagerly educational attainments are put forward by applicants for employment, and how little weight such claims carry in the select ion. I can affirm with confidence that, had I acted upon the principle of choosing men for their knowledge rather than their ability, I should have been surrounded by an incomparably less efficient staff than that which now governs the Elswick Works.
Nevertheless I do not disparage knowledge ; but, on the contrary, I respect and value as highly as any one the vast store of human