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to avoid controversy by leaving out what gives tone and savour to the whole. It will be remembered that De Tocqueville feared that one result of democracy might be 'respectable materialism.'
All through the century, though people have gone on ranging themselves in the main under one or the other banner, the points of view have been slowly changing, revolving almost, so that in some regards the one group has come to stand where the other stood before. And, all the time, the two sides have been carried down stream together in the suck of the current on which both are borne.
For the creation of a national system of education in any true sense of the words there seems to be required either a stable order of society on which to build, or such a moment of ardent spiritual unity as sometimes, though not always, follows a collapse of the outer fabric of national life. Neither of these conditions has been fulfilled at any point in English history during the present century. One struggle has followed another on the most fundamental issue of national life-the struggle between the doctrine of laissez faire and the rival theory (so ill represented in modern English thought) of the highly organised, carefully balanced, strongly governed modern State. The victory, such as it was, which laissez faire won in England was over the stupidity of ill-deserved and ill-used privileges, not over any serious attempt to organise English society on a scientific basis. It is not improbable that the next and most serious struggle will be between some kind of laissez faire on the one hand, and, on the other, the conception of national life which showed itself in one form in the thunder and lightning of Carlyle, and later, in another form, in the too romantic prophesyings of Mr Ruskin, but which is not unlikely to come nearest to success when put forward under the guise of a scientifically organised, firmly controlled commercial State, resting (though under carefully preserved democratic forms) on an oligarchic basis of capitalism, commanding great military and
naval force, buttressed by a system of commercial and technical education appropriate to itself, and kept buoyant by sharing a fraction of its financial interests with large numbers of small shareholders or insurers. In such a struggle, educational reform in a most sweeping and comprehensive sense would be the fundamental issue at stake.
But, though there have been times when that struggle has seemed very near-it was near in 1848 and near again between 1882 and 1885-other controversies have had more direct effect in producing instability of educational aims during the last half century. Among these has been the struggle (which produced the Tractarian movement) between two, or rather three conceptions of the relation of authority to private judgment. This has been accompanied and followed by very serious controversy between the scientific and traditional ideals of life. Commerce, again, one of the most disintegrating of all factors in its influence on social organization, has struggled with the traditional order of English society. Later still there has been the conflict between the forces concerned in Imperial development and those behind English political democracy. Again, partly as a result of missionary and colonial experience, partly as an outcome of the historical and comparative methods applied to social and psychological studies, there has been a noteworthy faltering of conviction as to the principles which really underlay (so far as theorising had anything to do with it) the ideas of democratic suffrage, popular control, majority voting, largely decentralised local government, etc. Child study and man study have emphasised a great many differences and difficulties which were not wholly unperceived by experienced and far-seeing persons at an earlier stage. But it is easy to overrate the part played by conscious theorising in English social developments. So far as the masses of the people have been concerned, practical dissatisfaction (after long patience) with an existing régime has been the chief cause of changes, which were desired and approved rather because
they promised hope of relief from practical inconvenience, than because of their conformity with philosophical theories about the citizen and the State.
It would appear therefore that, at any point throughout the century, the idea of setting up a unified and effectively unifying system of national education, though constantly renewed and though put forward by three of the greatest English writers of the century-Coleridge, Carlyle and Ruskin-has never been anything but a chimera. But it by no means necessarily follows that a chimera it will always remain. Nor would it, I think, be possible to defend the position that, on the whole, English education has fared as well during the century as we have any reason to desire. It is true that unnumbered individuals have given up their best years of labour in its service. And we have had Dr Arnold, to speak of perhaps the greatest of our schoolmasters during the present century. The cause of education has called forth an extraordinary amount of personal self-sacrifice. In certain ways it has made remarkable progress. Much has been done for the education of girls and women: the preparatory stages of secondary education have never been so well cared for as they are to-day : wonderful strides, especially during the last ten years, have been made in primary education. And other departments have made great advance. In some parts of the teaching profession there has been a striking growth of interest in such questions as methods of teaching and choice of studies. Institutions no less than individuals have shown that they can adapt themselves to new conditions and anticipate new needs. We have indeed much to be thankful for, and have been mercifully delivered from many imminent dangers. Things are not as bad as they well might have been. To adapt some words of Prof. Huxley's: "If Ormuzd has not had his way with England, neither has Ahriman." At the worst, a very free system has a fairly good side. On the other hand, what an unhappy thing it is that we, the pioneers of the Industrial Revolution, we who therefore, at that
critical time, most needed the bond and discipline and guidance which a national system of education really gives, have had, of all western nations, the least of what such a system could have furnished-and that in many ways we have so wastefully blundered and muddled through this long and critical century, wasting much that we had not foresight or self-control properly to use. And, again, who will not feel the justice of these remarks of Mrs Austin's written so long ago as 1834? "It seems to me," she says, "that we are guilty of great inconsistency as to the ends and objects of education. How industriously have not its most able and zealous champions been continually instilling into the mind of the people that 'education is the way to advancement,' that 'knowledge is power,' that 'a man cannot better himself without some learning.' And then we complain or we fear that education will set them above their station, disgust them with labour, make them ambitious, envious, dissatisfied. We must reap as we sow....The same motives, wearing different forms, are presented to all classes. 'Learn that you may get on,' is the motto of English education.” "The result," she concludes by saying, "the result is answerable."
But in saying that I do not believe that at any point in the century England was really ready for, or would have been improved by, the kind of concentrating and unifying system of National Education to which I referred at the beginning of this lecture, I am far from meaning to deny that such a system has not in itself great advantages as well as great drawbacks. There is, of course, no country in which the extreme type of educational unity has been seriously attempted, but there are approximations to such a system, which is indeed, in itself, an economical arrangement and permits effective use of a minimum expenditure of money, knowledge and effort. It slowly but certainly produces a really learned profession of
teachers. Its organization holds up and holds together a great deal of literary and intellectual interest which would otherwise tend to lose itself in other pursuits, and thus, under certain conditions of thought, the system consolidates a sort of intellectual barrier against various kinds of eruptive disorder from above and below. And in its general operation it tends to be an equalising movement, to lessen the gap between extremes, to do more for the average, than for the exceptional, individual. Perhaps in the process it squeezes out minor originalities, but it is doubtful whether, in association with other related forms of national discipline, such as compulsory military service, it does not produce other compensatory virtues.
On the other hand, if I may venture to express a tentative opinion, is not this, like all big machines, liable to produce too much of a given commodity and to be in danger of flooding Europe with people whose education has been in too literary a groove, and who without being specially fitted for intellectual pursuits have been a little spoiled for other things? By means of an elaborately organised system of higher education, it seems possible to overstimulate the intellectual susceptibility of large numbers of people of mediocre talent, without adding much to the sound stock of critical or practical judgment possessed by the nation. Granted to the full that in all callings there is a growing need for intellectual efficiency and alertness, it nevertheless remains true that there is also more need than ever for sturdiness and independence of individual judgment, and for power to resist whatever be the extravagant intellectual fashion of the hour, especially during a period of momentous change in our knowledge of nature and in our conceptions of the significance and possibilities of human life. A system of education is hurtful if it makes people intellectually impressionable without increasing at the same time their reserve of moral strength. Furthermore rules which shut out from professional careers all who have not passed through a prescribed course of secondary education