enter into actual practice of his craft, the more important is it that he should devote the precious hours of preliminary education to things of the mind, which have no direct and immediate bearing on his branch of industry, though they lie at the foundation of all realities.
Now let me apply the lessons I have learned from my handicraft to yours. If any of you were obliged to take an apprentice, I suppose you would like to get a good, healthy lad, ready and willing to learn, handy, and with his fingers not all thumbs, as the saying goes. You would like that he should read, write, and cipher well; and, if you were an intelligent master, and your trade involved the application of scientific principles, as so many trades do, you would like him to know enough of the elementary principles of science to understand what was going on. I suppose that in nine trades out of ten it would be useful if he could draw; and many of you must have lamented your inability to find out for yourselves what foreigners are doing or have done. So that some knowledge of French and German might, in many cases, be very desirable.
So it appears to me that what you want is pretty much what I want; and the practical question is, How you are to get what you need, under the actual limitations and conditions of life of handicraftsmen in this country?
I think I shall have the assent both of the employers of labor and of the employed as to one of these limitations; which is, that no scheme of technical education is likely to be seriously entertained which will delay the entrance of boys into working-life, or prevent them from contributing toward their own support, as early as they do at present. Not only do I believe that any such scheme could not be carried out, but I doubt its desirableness, even if it were practicable.
The period between childhood and manhood is full of difficulties and dangers, under the most favorable circumstances; and even among the well-to-do, who can afford to surround their children with the most favorable conditions, examples of a career ruined, before it has well begun, are but too frequent. Moreover, those who have to live by labor must be shaped to labor early. The colt that is left at grass too long makes but a sorry draught-horse, though his way of life does not bring him within the reach of artificial temptations. Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and, however early a man's training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.
There is another reason to which I have already adverted, and which I would reiterate, why any extension of the time devoted to ordinary school-work is undesirable. In the newly-awakened zeal for education, we run some risk of forgetting the truth that, while un-