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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/751

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quoting a passage from a play, "All men, even shopkeepers and cobblers, aim at becoming officers, and the man who has passed his whole life without official rank seems to be not a human being."[1]

These various influences, working from above downward, meet with an increasing response of expectations and solicitations proceeding from below upward. The hard-worked and overburdened who form the great majority, and still more the incapables perpetually helped, who are ever led to look for more help, are ready supporters of schemes which promise them this or the other benefit by state agency, and ready believers of those who tell them that such benefits can be given and ought to be given. They listen with eager faith to all builders of political air-castles, from Oxford graduates down to Irish irreconcilables, and every additional tax-supported appliance for their welfare raises hopes of further ones. Indeed, the more numerous public instrumentalities become, the more is there generated in citizens the notion that everything is to be done for them, and nothing by them. Each generation is made less familiar with the attainment of desired ends by individual actions or private combinations, and more familiar with the attainment of them by governmental agencies; until, eventually, governmental agencies come to be thought of as the only available agencies. This result was well shown in the recent Trades-Unions Congress at Paris. The English delegates, reporting to their constituents, said that, between themselves and their foreign colleagues, "the point of difference was the extent to which the state should be asked to protect labor": reference being thus made to the fact, conspicuous in the reports of the proceedings, that the French delegates always invoked governmental power as the only means of satisfying their wishes.

The diffusion of education has worked, and will work still more, in the same direction. "We must educate our masters," is the well-known saying of a Liberal who opposed the last extension of the franchise. Yes, if the education were worthy to be so called, and were relevant to the political enlightenment needed, much might be hoped from it. But knowing rules of syntax, being able to add up correctly, having geographical information, and a memory stocked with the dates of kings' accessions and generals' victories, no more imply fitness to form political conclusions than acquirement of skill in drawing implies expertness in telegraphing, or than ability to play cricket implies proficiency on the violin. "Surely," rejoins some one, "facility in reading opens the way to political knowledge." Doubtless; but will the way be followed? Table-talk proves that nine out of ten people read what amuses them or interests them rather than what instructs them, and that the last thing they read is something which tells them disagreeable truths or dispels groundless hopes. That popular education

  1. "Russia," i, 422.